The relationship between cinema and the art of horologie goes beyond just the James Bond series, as timepieces become icons by being tricky and stylish gadgets on the wrist of heroes and heroines, acting as details reflecting the timeperiod and themes of their respective movies or being plotpoints in itself. In this article, we take a deep dive into some of the biggest classics of the past decades as we immerse ourselves in worlds of sheer endless possibilities.
1. Pulp Fiction - Lancet Trench Watch
With its legendary dialogue, being able to transform mondane conversations about cheeseburgers and foot massages into gripping scenes remembered centuries after first glanzing across cinema screens, and hard-nosed but likeable criminals, Pulp Fiction catapulted Quentin Tarantino once and for all into the hearts of film enthusiasts across the globe.
It is therefore not surprising that our first pick for this list acts as the center piece in one of the films most memorable monologues, performed by the vietnam veteran Captain Koon, in which actor Christopher Walken descripes the watches journey from the trenches of France in the horrors of the first world war to a prisoner-of-war camp in Hanoi till it reached America. This flashback then ends with Koon handing over the timepiece to a young Butch Coolidge, revealing its significane to one of our protagonists and therefore acting as a catylist for the further plot developments.
Tarantino is nothing if not a sucker for details and as such he chose a watch that played an important role in horological history, as the trench warfare during world war one forced the soldiers to abandon the use of pocket watches, oftentimes straping the aforementioned onto leather straps and therefore popularising wristwatches as well as leading companies such as Lacet to design specific watch cases to be attached to a strap.
2. Back to the Future - Casio CA53W Twincept Databank
No movie theme is more fitting for an iconic timepiece than time travel. It is thereby no surprise that the Casio that adorned Marty McFly's wrist in the 1985 cult classic is still loved by movie and watch lovers alike as it has found its place in the heart of retro-enthusiasts with a nostalgic passion for the decade that fashion forgot, while combining looks with functions as it boasts a calender, alarm, stopwatch and even a calculator
3. American Psycho - Rolex Datejust
In a film featuring a protagonist obsessed with status and material possession, the watch of choice would always be a big deal. The combination of stainless steel and 18 carat gold culminating in a Rolex Datejust that is unrivalled in its elegance while perfectly capturing the exess of 80's New York, steals the show whenever it encircles Patrick Bateman's wrist.
However, the films shocking violence led to Rolex almost refusing to permit the watches inclusion. Thankfully, a compromise was reached as the watch was not featured while Bateman commited his violent acts, leading to the watch being cut from a large portion of this notoiously extreme movie and therefore drastically reducing its screentime, but not enough to prevent it from becoming one of cinema's most famous movie watches.
4. Apocalypse Now - Seiko 6105
In 1979, Francis Ford Capola offered us an unflinching insight into the evils of war and the harm caused during the vietnam conflict as the film is packed full with authentic details that ensured it resonated with those that experienced the horrors first hand. As a result, it is no surprise that Captain Willard wore a Seiko 6105.
Being released in 1968 and known for its renowned durability, the dive watch became widely popular amongst US soldiers in Vietnam, combining classic design with the needed resistance to withstand the harsh conditions of the southeast Asian jungles. The model was sold on American military bases, which led to a large proportion of servicemen wearing a Seiko when being shiped out.
5. Top Gun - Orfina Porsche Design Chronograph 1
Designed to be a "speedometer on the wrist" and chosen to match the need for speed of Maverick, this watch accompanies the reckless pilot on his adventures characterised by the allure of fast vehicles, on-the-edge action and life-or-death action.
The Orfina Porsche Design Chronograph 1 was created in collaboration with Swiss specialists Orfina, although Porsche Design has since brought design and manufacture in-house. Being originaly released in the early 70's, the model is still updated and re-released to this day, though none of the later designs were able to quite capture the Top Gun magic of the version sported by Tom Cruise in the cult classic.
6. Tenet - Hamilton Khaki Navy BeLOWZERO
With the central conflict revolving around a future war threatning to whipe out the past and a machine capable of inverting time acting as the motor of the plot moving forward in all possible scenarios, the stakes are elevated to a new level and there is no symbol encapsulating the essence of this film better than a watch. The timepiece that you should definitely have on your radar is the Hamilton adorning the wrist of our fittingly called protagonist. We of course refer to the the model featured in the film, which is unique and was custom-made exclusively by Hamilton, but in honour of the cooperation with Nolan, Hamilton released a special edition Hamilton BeLOWZERO including either a second hand with a blue or red tip, picking up the central colours of the movie with both versions being limited to only 888 pieces. This number, being a palindrome, is a nod to the film's title and can be read forwards as well as backwards. As a small tribute to this two and a half hour masterpiece we hid four palindromes in this text aswell. Can you find them all?