5 Iconic Movie Watches
With my first child on the way, me and my wife have been spending a lot more time at home watching movies. Admittedly, our tastes differ, but when we do decide on a movie, I’ve been paying close attention to what makes some of my favorite on-screen characters so unique and special. Aside from their dashingly good looks and impeccable style, what strikes me while watching, is their attention to detail, particularly the watches they wear.
Some believe that the purpose of a watch is to simply tell time, but I beg to differ. A man’s watch serves as an outward expression of his personality. Are you adventurous? Are you practical? Do you value tradition? Today, I want to spotlight five iconic movie watches that remind just how impactful a wristwatch is and how unforgettable they are even on the big screen.
1. Thunderball – Rolex Submariner Ref. 6538 “Big Crown”
Starting with one of the most famous movie franchises of all time, it seems only fitting that it starts with the one of the most famous watches of all time. James Bond and the Rolex Submariner have a storied history together. As writer Ian Fleming will tell you, he wrote the original novel with the protagonist confidently sporting a Rolex.
The legend of this watch has been spoken about in great length, but what I particularly admire is seeing the watch throughout different movies. The “only a dive watch” moniker was no longer valid. We see Connery wearing the watch throughout the film on both leather and nato straps, with a polo and a tuxedo, justifying that above all else, there’s never a bad situation to wear a great looking Rolex. That phrase still holds true today.
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2. The Predator – Seiko H558 “Arnie”
At first glance, the Seiko H558 isn’t a stunningly beautiful watch, but what it lacks in its conventional appearance, it makes up for in its toughness and authenticity. That and being named after one of the most well-known action stars in history. Known to watch enthusiasts as the ‘Arnie”, Arnold Schwazineger wore this Seiko H558 dive watch in a slew of 80’s hit action movies including the cult classic, “The Predator”.
A man known for his physique, the Seiko H558 was considered a large watch for its time. It was also one the first quartz dive watches to incorporate three time zones, a digital/analog display, backlight and alarm. This watch was the perfect contrast to the larger than life Schwazineger and so popular today, Seiko has reissued it, much to the anticipation of its loyal customer base. Now get to the choppa!
SHOP NOW: Seiko H558 (Reissue)
3. Thomas Crown Affair – Cartier Tank Cintrée
I’ll wholeheartedly admit upfront that I watched the 1999 remake of this movie with Pierce Brosnan before diving into the original Steve McQueen version. What’s not to love about a McQueen film, with his rakish good looks and witty charm. Even today, the movie still holds up well. While McQueen wore different watches throughout the film, the one that stuck with me the most was the Cartier Tank Cintrée.
For McQueen’s portrayal of Thomas Crown, it’s hard to find a more perfectly balanced and elegant dress watch that encapsulates the Thomas Crown character. The Cartier Tank Cintrée is the older cousin to today’s more modern Tank Américaine, and translated means “cinched”. Its beautiful curved case hugs the wrist, a dial with noticeable breguet hands and the famous Cartier blue cabochon crown. For a true watch collector it’s a grail watch that speaks of Cartier’s centuries old tradition to the beauty of form.
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4. Apollo 13 – Omega Speedmaster Professional
If we’re talking about iconic watches, it would be foolish not to mention the watch with the most historically significant accolades. Known widely as “The Moon Watch”, the Omega Speedmaster Professional was selected by NASA and successfully assisted in taking the US to the moon in 1969. In 1995, the movie Apollo 13 depicted the 1970’s mission by US astronauts who were left crippled by a malfunctioning spacecraft and miraculously were able to make it back home safely.
A star-studded film, starring Tom Hanks, it’s deserving of the many awards it was given, but the real star was in fact the Omega Speedmaster Professional featured throughout the film. Hundreds of miles from earth and stranded, these astronauts relied on the Omega Speedmaster to perform a critical 14-second maneuver in hopes of successfully returning to Earth. With the most advanced spacecraft of its time, a simple wristwatch was the deciding factor in their safe journey home. The Omega Speedmaster Professional was a vital tool in saving 3 men’s lives and to me, there is no bigger accomplishment than that, not even space.
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5. Ford v. Ferrari – Heuer Carrera 7753SN
As a kid, I remember dreaming of growing up to be a race car driver. If you were lucky enough to live out those dreams, you probably wore a Heuer watch. Heuer or TAG Heuer as they are known today, was founded in 1860 and regarded for their high-level accuracy and workmanship. The Swiss brand was the watch of choice by the world’s best motorsports drivers. Maybe you’ve heard of a guy by the name of Steve McQueen? Seems like he known around here.
Ford v. Ferrari, was a biopic on the 1966 LeMans battle between the two famed automakers, and debuted in 2019. While the film may not be considered a cult classic, the Heuer Carrera 7753SN featured in it has surely been lauded for decades. Yes, I’m aware that the watch worn by actor Matt Damon in the film was not period correct. Carroll Shelby did indeed order special edition Heuers for his racing team during that time period. The Heuer Carrera 7753SN boasted a stunningly pure design, clear legibility and a reliable Valjoux movement. Furthermore, they’re yet another example that a tool watch should be used. Praise them for their beauty but wear them for their practicality. Today, Heuer still pays respect to their past by reissuing limited edition runs of some of their most sought after classic chronographs.
SHOP NOW: Limited Edition TAG Heuer Carrera
Steven D. Elliott
He Spoke Style