The 5 watches that have made the history of cinema

July 3, 2021By Bonetto Cinturini


“Two things are aesthetically perfect in this world, cats and watches.” Cartier.

A quote that makes an impact, that can express at best the importance and beauty of a wristwatch: something that is not just useful, but also a synonym of class, elegance, and perfection.

A watch is a distinctive mark, it represents its wearer, it tells of who we are, what we love, it talks about our world, our passions.

There are an infinite number of models that range from sporty to classic to luxury, from underwater to more innovative and technologically advanced.

A passion for watches

A watch is an accessory whose details need to be cared for and whose materials must be high quality, so as to protect them from wear and preserve them over time. Watches are used by everyone, from professional athletes about to break their own record, to politicians, men of culture (who could forget the famous timepiece worn masterfully by Giovanni Agnelli), movie stars.

Watches have always united people from every walk of life, but when on the wrists of stars, they become particularly fascinating, with an extra oomph that makes them famous, immortal, almost a cult object.

Luxury watches in movies

When speaking about luxury watches, Rolex is usually the first name that comes to mind: it is the brand that James Bond wears on his wrist when he focuses on beating the bad guys and seduces women.

The movie world has always offered examples of elegance and style. Hollywood stars are often remembered and quoted also thanks to the precious jewels at their wrist.

Humphrey Bogart, the famous star of Casablanca and many other successes, usually wore a Longines Evidenza with a pink gold dial and yellow gold case, the same material also used for the strap and the numbers on the dial, among other things. It was an unmistakeable luxury that distinguished this mythical actor, who in 1999 was selected as the greatest male star of classic American cinema. His secret? The watch that made him special was not just a stage piece, it actually belonged to him. Bogart’s rough fascination has never faded, to the point that Longines launched an advertising campaign at the beginning of 2000 that stated: Elegance is an attitude.

Charlie Chaplin, the great star of silent movies and talkies, used to collect watches. His most precious model? A Rolex Oyster with the crown on the left, and a Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox.

This particular watch played a very important role in the actor’s life, because it was gifted to him by the authorities of the Swiss canton to which he transferred with his family after being forced to leave America. It is a precious jewel that was displayed, among other things, during Charlie’s World, the 2016 exhibition held in the villa that belonged to the actor.

A watch is a cult object, the quintessential symbol of time passing, a jewel that is always noticed, and if worn by women it becomes more valuable, iconic.

Liz Taylor, with her blue eyes, her indisputable acting talent and her fascination, was loved by everyone. She had an extraordinary collection of watches, with classic pieces with diamonds signed Cartier and Vacheron Constantin, but also more modern pieces.

Elizabeth Taylor has gone down in movie history thanks to her interpretation of Cleopatra, where she wore the most famous watch in her collection: the Bulgari Serpenti, called so because of its special form. Her interpretation and the success of the film contributed to spreading the name of the Italian brand, not well known up to that point. The watch is worn wrapped around the wrist like a bracelet, and the dial is covered by a snake’s head. It is not known how the actress came to own it: some believe it was given to her by her husband at the time, others believe it was a gift from Richard Burton, the male leading role and her future great love. What counts most is that the star with her Bulgari Serpenti represents a unique image.

In 2010 the company manager sent Elizabeth Taylor a modern version of the watch with an engraved message.

Hollywood is inconceivably Rolex, without underestimating the importance and beauty of Cartier or Bulgari watches. The brand worn most by the stars of this Mecca is Rolex, which can count Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Clint Eastwood among its fans. The models that Clint Eastwood prefers, like the GFT Master and the subsequent one, were renamed Root Beer by Rolex fans because of the brown dial and the brown/beige 24-hour bezel. The great actor often wore two-tone Rolex watches in his films, even when he became Inspector Callahan, one of his most famous roles. Paul Newman, like the great sports enthusiast he was, often wore a Rolex Daytona whose special dial had black minute markers. When the great star wore it for the first time, it was just an ordinary Rolex watch, but now it is one of the most sought-after timepieces and it comes at an extremely high price – about 200,000 euros.

The success of another iconic Rolex, the Monaco model, is due to Steve McQueen. The actor wore it during “Le Mans”, and even if the film was not very popular, the watch became one of the most loved models. The actor was truly passionate about Rolex watches, above all the Submarine model. It seems that he gifted one to his trusted stuntman as a sign of his gratitude.

There are many Hollywood stars who have chosen Rolex as their symbol – Michael Douglas, Leonardo di Caprio, Matt Damon and Adrien Brody to name but a few – in confirmation of how much the luxury brand is a synonym of timeless elegance.

Luxury watches: the novelties

Luxury needs to renew itself, needs to discover new cutting-edge techniques, needs to become more precious so as to reach excellence.

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer, presented at the yearly trade show in Geneva, was inspired by the original model from 1953 but has a movement that is in line with the highest levels of watchmaking technology. The new version has an 18 carat yellow gold crown, bezel and central strap elements, while the side elements of the strap are made of steel.

Rolex is not just a famous brand. It is more than a simple watch – it is a lifestyle. The new Cartier model is called Tank Must: the material used to make the strap does not come from animals and the movement is photovoltaic. The photovoltaic principle was used to produce the dial. How? The Roman numerals were perforated and the openings allow light to reach the hidden cells.

This special technology gives the watch a power reserve of approximately 16 years. Bulgari proposes the Octo Finissimo Perpetual calendar model, which has beaten all thin watch records – it is only 5.88 mm thick, in fact! The novelties do not finish here, though: it is available in two versions, one in classic titanium and one in platinum with an alligator strap. The proud owners of this fantastic watch can see the time without having to worry about checking it until 2100.