The silver screen is the world’s best billboard. Not only do you have the visual aspect, you also have time to explain a product, associate it with a desirable movie star, and even (in some cases) give it a character of its own.
I’ve often fantasized about being Hollywood’s go-to guy for wrist props. So much can be said about a character through their choice (or anti-choice) of wrist wear. Throughout the ages of cinema, many characters have sported watches and fashions that have gone on to experience unprecedented success or longevity as a result. Astute product placement can make a brand a lot of money, but more emotively affect our cultural backdrop in a real and tangible way.
For this list, in order to dodge some of the more common choices and open the door for newcomers, I limited myself to watches from the last decade. As it turns out, the oldest member of this list hit the big time in 2013, so it’s a pretty fresh line-up. Please let me know your all-time favorites, and which recent debutants you’d have chosen instead.
Rolex Datejust worn by Matthew McConaughey as Mark Hanna in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
The Rolex Datejust is easily one of the most recognizable movie watches of all time.
McConaughey plays the uproarious Mark Hanna in this 2013 classic. Hanna is a perfectly played paradigm of the era. A genius of sorts, his methods, and practices are…unconventional to say the least. These men were wolves in many senses of the word. You kind of needed to be a bit wild to survive in that dog-eat-dog environment. The Rolex is a flawless badge of power, but doubles as a disguise to the rest of the world – a luxury watch and a smart suit can go a long way towards earning somebody’s trust. One of the smartest investments he ever made…
Check out our trading platform to find an era-appropriate model. Most bi-color Datejust models of this era can be picked up around $5,000.
Hamilton Field Khaki worn by Mackenzie Foy/Jessica Chastain/Ellen Burstyn as Murph in Interstellar (2014)
Not just a member of the movie watches club, the ‘Murph’ was exclusively a prop before it was turned into a production model due to an overwhelming demand (Image: Hamilton).
A firm personal favorite, the Hamilton Field Khaki Murph is a bargain slice of movie history, Swiss know-how, and American style. Coming in for just under $1,000, the ‘Murph’ boasts an 80-hour power reserve and a sapphire display caseback showing off a nicely decorated rotor weight. The first 2,555 will be delivered in a tesseract-inspired box. One for the safe or the wrist, this watch is affordable enough to be worn and enjoyed, but has multifaceted collector potential if you want to sit on it for a while.
Bremont Kingsman worn by Taryn Egerton in Kingsman (2015)
Not just another member of our best movie watches list, the Bremont Kingsman was actually created specifically to accompany the film’s release (Image: Bremont).
The ‘indie-Bond’, Kingsman flung Taryn Egerton into the public consciousness. He’s since gone on to star in a slew of blockbusters, with his new Elton John biopic, Rocketman just around the corner. The Bremont Kingsman watch collection was released to accompany the film’s roll out. Three versions were available in real life: rose gold, stainless steel, and a DLC variant.
I was actually working as a watchmaker for Bremont when the film debuted. I got to see a few of these pass over my bench. They are all really cool models, with the stainless version my personal favorite. With retail prices around $7,000-$15,000, all three models were limited.
Eagle-eyed movie buffs will have noticed the rose gold model featured in the film was worn with a steel buckle. Rest assured, the real life version comes with a matching rose gold buckle, although I’m sure Bremont would accommodate if you desperately wanted a screen-accurate recreation.
Omega Seamaster 300 worn by Daniel Craig as James Bond in Spectre (2014)
The James Bond film franchise has been the source of some of the most famous movie watches of all time, with this Omega being the most recent (Image: Omega).
Ever since Omega took over from Rolex back with 1995’s Goldeneye, James Bond has worn a Seamaster. Only recently, however, have these iconic watches really started to flourish. Although the Seamaster 300m on Brosnan’s wrist played a huge part in reinvigorating the industry en masse, it wasn’t really ‘all that’. In the last five years, Omega have really stepped up their game. The vintage-inspired Spectre Seamaster is limited, comes on a black and gray NATO as standard, and has bucketloads of cool. For under $10,000 you can still pick up one of these on the pre-loved market, and I doubt you’d be disappointed.
Jaeger-LeCoultre worn by Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange in Dr. Strange (2016)
A contender for one of the movie watches that received the most screen time, the Master Ultra Thin Perpetual was used to convey information about film’s protagonist (Image: Jaeger-LeCoultre).
The addition of Dr. Strange’s Jaeger-LeCoultre was a genuine, and very pleasant surprise for me. I loved the prominent presence it was given on screen. It was clearly used as a device to convey the character’s wealth, status, and meticulous nature. It was an interesting choice – all of the other watches featured on this list were very clearly direct sales drivers, whereas this Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual feels like more of an overarching brand ambassador given its $30,000 retail.
A classic piece in another rip-roaring film. If only Tony Stark gave his collection as much screen time as Dr. Strange, Marvel may well be regarded as the defining franchise for watch lovers the world over.