Right on time

2013-07-25 11:08

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

On the silver screen minutes are captured in the form of desirable timepieces on the wrists of secret agents, detectives and fiendish thieves.

Small detail, big meaning

It may only be watch collectors and fanatics who notice what actors are wearing on their wrists in the movies, but these watches – often from luxury brands – are carefully selected to convey the right nuances.

Take a look at what it says about a character’s personality – is he a calculated spy or a methodical detective?

Now that people use their smartphones to tell time, manufacturers are focusing on marketing watches as luxury accessories.

And this seems to be working: 2012 was a record year for the Swiss watch industry, with an export value of $22.6 billion (about R227 billion), 11% higher than in 2011.

The bad guys

‘Please, not when he’s killing’

When luxury goods companies hear about a new blockbuster in the making, the competition gets fierce. There is, however, more than money at stake – the association has to be right.

Serial killers don’t quite match up to James Bond, and Rolex and company didn’t queue up to get their most covetable goods into American Psycho (2000). The contracts that were signed were brimming with clauses.

Cerruti allowed psychopath Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) to wear their clothes ‘at certain times’, but for heaven’s sake just not while he’s murdering. Rolex said no thanks and that’s why this sentence from Bret Easton Ellis’s book didn’t make it into the movie: ‘Don’t touch the Rolex.’

IWC Vintage Ingenieur Automatic IW3233

But if the main character is a villain that doesn’t get his hands too dirty, it’s fine. That’s how assassin Vincent (Tom Cruise, below) shows off an IWC Vintage Ingenieur Automatic IW3233 in Collateral (2004), which will set you back a cool £4 500 (about R70 000).

Rolex vs Omega in 50 years of 007

Vesper Lynd: ‘Rolex?’

James Bond: ‘Omega.’

This conversation is from Casino Royale (2006), and there’s probably no one more famous for his glamourous lifestyle than James Bond.

Bond and Rolex were synonymous for more than 20 years, and in Ian Fleming’s novels our charming agent wears a Rolex Oyster Perpetual. The conversation above had Bond purists pursing their lips.


In the first film, Dr No (1962), Bond wears a Rolex – and up until The Living Daylights (1987) it was mostly Rolex all the way. The Rolex Submariner appeared in 11 Bond films! In GoldenEye (1995) Pierce Brosnan sports an Omega Seamaster Quartz Professional.

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona that Robert de Niro wore as a New York detective in 15 Minutes (2001) costs between £7 000 and £14 000 (about R107 000 to R215 000). Rolex’s original Daytona designs have a Paul Newman dial, so called because the actor wore one until his death. Today it’s considered the most coveted Rolex.

Watch this

• In Apollo 13 (1995) Tom Hanks wears an Omega Speedmaster Professional – the very one that Nasa chose in 1965 as its official timepiece.

Omega Speedmaster Professional

• After Men in Black 3 (2012) Swatch, who owns the Hamilton brand, took Stuhrling Original to court after they marketed a copy of the Hamilton Ventura with ‘as seen in the movie’.

• The Omega Planet Ocean that Daniel Craig wore during the filming of Skyfall was sold at a Christie’s auction in 2012 for $254 273

(about R2.56 million).

• In 2008 Charlize Theron had to pay millions of dollars for breaking her contract by wearing a Christian Dior watch while acting as ambassador for the Swiss brand Raymond Weil.

Alpha Males

From rugged sportsmanship to sexual thriller

Watch-spotters would’ve noticed A-list actor Brad Pitt, above, sporting a ‘period correct’

TAG Heuer Kirium in the 2011 baseball hit Moneyball. Word has it Brad chose to wear this super-reliable piece because its sporty looks enhanced his portrayal of Billy Bean, the inspirational manager of a baseball team.

TAG Heuer Kirium

On a different playing field altogether, in Disclosure (1993) Michael Douglas flashes a TAG Heuer Professional quartz. The timepiece is the perfect blend of style, sophistication and elegance – just what his character tries to channel in the boardroom.

Beauty and the thief

Outside the testosterone box

You’ll find big names such as IWC, Rolex and Omega mostly on men’s wrists on the big screen, but in the 1960s the Cartier group was already thinking outside the testosterone box as one of the brand sponsors of How to Steal a Million (1966).

In this romantic comedy about a beautiful liar and a thief, the Cartier Tank Louis on actress Audrey Hepburn’s wrist, right, is as elegant and romantic as her character.

Cartier Tank Louis

In The Town (2010), the hero (Ben Affleck) is also a thief, but the sought-after watch – appropriately a Rolex GMT Master II – sits on the wrist of the detective (Jon Hamm) who investigates the bank robbery in his calculated, controlled manner.

Action heroes

From time travellers to Elvis the Pelvis

How do the protagonists in Men in Black (1997-2012) know the time if they’re travelling back in time? Simple: they wear triangular Hamilton Ventura watches from 1957 with black rubber straps and a steel casing – the perfect design for a secret agent.

And while Agent J (played by Will Smith, left) is travelling through time, the different Ventura models reflect the eras he finds himself in.

Hamilton Ventura

Elvis Presley wore the exact same Hamilton Ventura in Blue Hawaii (1961) – and didn’t take it off when the cameras stopped rolling. In typical Elvis style he replaced the original black and gold strap with a chic metal design.

» Get your copy of iMag in City Press on Sundays

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.