10 Blockbuster Watches Featured in Movies & The Story Behind Them! (2023)

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Iconic watches, iconic movies or both? Check out these 10 blockbusters and the stories behind them!

There is little doubt that going to the movies is an immersive experience, and it is ultimately fulfilling, especially when had in a big, dark theater with an immense screen to look at.

We find ourselves strangely attracted to the characters of the screen, so much that they become, willingly or not, role-models for our life and trendsetters for our habits.

During the years, movies have launched trends, and through movies, many brands - portrayed there - have found a sometimes unexpected (but very well welcomed!) surge of popularity after being worn by this or that cool guy or gorgeous gal that we may admire on the big screen.

So much that “product placement” during the years has become a very active, and sometimes, a bit overbearing, activity, where every aspect of an event is methodologically studied as to obtain the best results - and promote the products featured inside the movie or the show.

And we should not ignore this aspect, especially when dealing with our beloved watches. Watches in movies are worn by characters, and as such, they become - sometimes - an instant role-model and a huge hit as the charisma of the actor goes over its character and spills an all-around coolness in real life.

Some of these watches rate among the best-known worldwide - and going outside of the strict boundaries of the movie, have become elements of style and a reference aside their strict horological value: so, we at Luxury Bazaar have compiled a list of the ten among the most important movies of the recent and not so recent past, together with the watches of reference used inside these movies.

Some of the films listed below are universally known, some others a bit less - but all of them feature an extraordinary character - be it the actor, the movie or… the watch!

1 - “My name is Bond. James Bond”- 1963

If there is a famous quote from a movie, it is this one. The charismatic secret agent created by Ian Fleming has seen many actors playing the role, and also, many watches featured in its long list of over 25 movies featuring his exploits.

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The themes, as you know, are always similar: the charming Mr. Bond fights evil whenever and wherever he finds it, which generally happens in the most beautiful places of the Earth, and in company of the most gorgeous women of the said planet, while using, apart from his skills, the most unbelievable gizmos created by Her Majesty’s Secret Service R&D department, headed by the resourceful “Q”.

But at his wrist, though he has worn many - there has been one watch for his public: the Rolex Submariner.

We all can remember Sean Connery - the quintessential James Bond for a lot of Bond freaks - when he checks the time wearing a perfect white tuxedo.

And the watch at his wrist was an iconic Rolex Submariner Ref. 6538.

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The ref. 6538, which was among the first Submariners produced, would accompany him in several editions of the Bond saga, namely, apart from the first movie of the franchise, Dr. No, in other classics such as From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, and Thunderball.

Apart from the wow factor on the public, James Bond rendered the Submariner an icon of horology, effectively making it a cult object worldwide. So much that still today, the Bond-bound reference of this timepiece was in such demand that a good Ref. 6538 Submariner was sold in 2018 at a public auction for over a million dollars. And no: it was just a regular one, not the Q-modded ones Bond used to wear in the movies.

2 - Monaco 1133 and the need for speed - 1971

If you think that movies based on car races are a recent craze, then think again.

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One of the legends of movie stardom, Steve McQueen, is the actor playing in possibly the most iconic movie of this kind ever made. And TAG Heuer, which in 1971 was just Heuer, got from “Speed”, a movie dedicated to the Le Mans car race, a passport for stardom with the presence of an iconic timepiece at Mr. McQueen’s right wrist.

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It is said that Steve McQueen (who in his private life was instead a Rolex wearer) chose personally the model from a selection of watches delivered to the set by Jack Heuer himself. And well, we must congratulate the actor’s choice: not only the Monaco oozes character from every part you look at it, but it is also a great timepiece, horologicaly speaking.

The Monaco was designed personally by Jack Heuer, and the original model, the 1133, featured a definitely unconventional setup: the pair of pushbuttons are, as in most chronographs, at the 2 and 4 o’clock position while the crown is located at the 9 o'clock position on a square casing.

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The dials for the minute and hour counters are at 9 and 3 o'clock respectively. There is a hand-applied date window at 6 o’clock. The watch also featured chamfered square and oblong hours markers. The shape was revolutionary at the time for a chronograph watch, and the 1133 was also one of the first water-resistant chronographs.

3 - The Paul Newman’s Paul Newman - 1969

The story of the costliest Rolex ever, recently auctioned for over $17 million, coincides with the private life of Mr. Newman, who received it as a gift from his wife, Joanne Woodward.

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And gets it into the most famous watches in movies, ever.

The actress paid about $300 for that Rolex Daytona steel chronograph Ref, 6239, with a cream dial and black contrasting counters, in 1968: the only accent, the red Daytona writing above the hour dial.

The reason why she bought it - and he wore it - was that when shooting the movie “Winning”, in 1969, where the couple appeared together, Newman interpreted one of his real-life passions, that was race driving. So, Joanne wanted to engrave a loving recommendation for him on the back, namely "Drive Carefully Me" - which, as it was worded, we are not sure it refers to his car driving only.

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Also, because Rolex was the sponsor of the Daytona 24 Hours, Joanne felt this model was the perfect choice for him and his character as well. Newman wore that watch for about fifteen years, only to give it to the fiancé of his daughter Nell, James Cox, who sold it in 2016 for the astronomical result we have noted above. As a small note, Cox got only a small part of the said amount: the watch was sold with the consent of Nell Newman, and the majority of the sum was given to the Nell Newman Foundation of humanitarian aid.

Well, if you ask us, this is the best spent $300 that we can think of.

4 - Seiko Ripley: Aliens and the sci-fi of the Eighties - 1983

If there is a film that struck a vibe in the public by showing a less glam version of space travel, it was the dark, brooding, claustrophobic world of “Aliens”. Noteworthy was also the amazing acting of its main character - apart from the Alien, that is: Sigourney Weaver playing as Cdr. Ellen Ripley.

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In what was an essentially a solo performance, Ms. Weaver held her audience glued to their seats for around two hours, and with no signs of the tension ever relenting.

The watch that she wore in the movie, apart from its futuristic looks, was also a marvel of technique back then. We are talking about the famous Seiko 7a28-7000, the very first quartz chronograph of all time.

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Designed by the famous industrial designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, the “Ripley”, as it became to be known after the huge success of the movie, was a prodigy of technology. The case was in steel, and the movement was also made in steel and fully jeweled (15). A separate motor was provided for each indicating function, and the button at 10 o’clock temporarily stopped the chronograph hands’ motion as actual timing continued, so you could check it with ease, providing a sort of a “split-second” function. And also, while the main hands moved at the typical quartz pace, the one within the sub-dial at 3 o’clock moved at 20 steps per second.

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In short, a unique timepiece that has become an instant hit for all the Aliens fan, and also, the horology freaks. The watch has been re-edited by Seiko in 2015, featuring a different movement, but with an aesthetic that is very similar to the original, so today it is fairly easy to find one at a very affordable price.

5 - Seiko 6105, the watch of the Apocalypse - 1979

We do not know what you remember most of the “Apocalypse Now” movie: the oppressive jungle settings where Capt. Willard - Martin Sheen’s character - operates in search of Marlon Brando, playing as Col. Kurtz, or the hypnotic soundtrack performed by the Doors.

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Well, the choice of timepiece was perfect. In this case, extensive historical research found that this particular reference of a watch was very diffused among the Vietnam US soldiers. So, it was the most logical choice for the wrist of Capt. Willard.

It was customary for troops to buy their own watch at the Post Exchanges of South East Asia to complement, and more often than not, replace the failing timepieces of military issue. And the Seiko 6105 automatic watch, which was available in a couple of models, was cheap, rugged, water-resistant to 150 meters and extremely dependable, making it extremely popular between enlisted personnel.

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This fascinating timepiece was produced from 1968 to 1977, but today the watch has been re-edited by Seiko, so you could find plenty around - though the vintage charm of the original with its cushion case and recessed crown at four is still one of its strongest appeals, and makes it a compelling object to get, especially since it is not difficult to find some original ones in good condition in the $1,000 range.

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6 - Omega Speedmaster Professional, to the Moon and (luckily) back - 1995

There is little to say about how important a watch has been in some circumstances, and “Apollo 13” is the case - as the movie featuring Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon illustrates quite accurately a true story.

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The Apollo 13 team wore (as the standard equipment of NASA was supplied by Omega) the very famous Omega Speedmaster Professional as a timepiece. The watch was used as a backup device to complement the ship on-board computer, and we have seen that in the peculiar case depicted in the story, the use of a watch to precisely calculate the time for the 14-seconds engine burst was the difference between success and disaster.

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So, in this case, it wasn’t the movie that made the success of a watch, but still, we feel that the inclusion in our list of famous watches in movies is truly deserved.

The Speedmaster featured in the movie was the original Moonwatch, mounting the Omega Cal. 321. This movement was later replaced, in following editions by another, Albert Piguet-designed movement, the 861 - but the original Moonwatch mounts the 321.

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On occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, Omega has released a limited edition Moonwatch series in platinum, mounting a new release of the original 321 caliber. However, we think that the price of this gorgeous timepiece, which is over $50,000, might discourage a few of the would-be buyers.

7 - Porsche Design Orfina 7176s, the pilot’s watch you do not expect - 1986

Everybody has seen at least once the dazzling enterprises of “Maverick” and “Iceman” as fighter pilots in “Top Gun”, from the Eighties to today, and while everyone thought that the trusted wingman at Tom Cruise’s wrist was an IWC, quite surprisingly it turns out that it was instead a Porsche Design Orfina.

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This should not be a surprise at all, as the Porsche Design watches were very much in fashion during the Eighties.

The peculiar reference that hot-blooded “Maverick” wore in the film, the 7176s, was an avant-garde chronograph featuring a Lemania 5100 caliber, clad inside a PVD-coated stainless steel case and featuring a day/date indicator, chronograph registers at 12 o’clock, six o’clock, and nine o’clock, and a tachymeter scale.

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If you cannot find an original in a good shape (and the PVD coating is the main culprit here), the company has released a reissue in 2010.

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8 - Rolex Deepsea Seadweller, the watch that should not have been there - 2012

Well, sometimes watches in movies are perfectly well-placed historically, but sometimes people make mistakes. And when you make a very famous movie, you are bound to attract a lot of attention by people looking at it and finding the inconsistencies. This has been the case of “Argo”, the 2012 Oscar-winning movie about the extraction mission of 66 American hostages held in the US Tehran Embassy in 1979.

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Ben Affleck, who played the mastermind of the operation, Tony Mendez, during the movie was portrayed wearing a Rolex Deepsea Seadweller, a watch that would only be manufactured some thirty years later, as it was launched in Baselworld 2008.

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But hey, he was a super-spy, you know?

Apart from jokes, it is not the one and only example of watches being where they should not have been. One of the most notorious happened in the movie “Ben Hur”, where a Roman chariot driver is wearing a watch in AD 26, so, Argo’s was just a small inaccuracy.

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Apart from this little glitch, the movie is very enjoyable, and the watch is as well. The Deepsea is one of Rolex’s latest improvements to the original Oyster Perpetual Seadweller and represents one of the most water-resistant mechanical watches in serial production of today.

The Deepsea is tested to a depth of 4,875 meters so to comply with the ISO 6425 divers' watches standard. The fact that your body could not survive to such depths is entirely secondary, though: but your Rolex will.

9 - Hamilton Khaki Pilot Day Date, time-traveling in a sci-fi movie - 2014

Lots of history plots in movies require good timekeeping, and some also time-traveling.

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This is the case of one of the best modern classics of the sci-fi genre, “Interstellar”.

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The film features the secretive attempts by a future humanity on the verge of extinction to find a new home planet through the discovery of a wormhole near Saturn, and while passing through it, fiddling with time and its paradoxes.

Well, the movie is quite good and the scenario depicted in it is plausible, having been created with the contribution of the professional theoretical physicist Kip Thorne. And the use of watches inside the film is fundamental.

While the timepiece Matthew McConaughey’s character gives to his daughter is a prop, the one he wears during the movie is instead a nice - and very affordable - Hamilton Khaki Pilot Day-Date.

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This timepiece is a lovely version of the classic pilot’s watch, featuring the usual ETA-derived caliber modded by Hamilton to reach 80 hours of power charge, all clad in a stylish case and dial which display quality features and a pleasant retro design.

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The perfect choice for a character like Joseph Cooper, a retired astronaut turned farmer who was described by the film’s director as an everyman with whom “the audience could experience the story.”

10 - Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Grande Taille, a double-faced watch for a superhero with a secret identity - 2005

If you want to picture the life of one of the richest men on Earth, who happens to has a secret identity as a superhero as well, you cannot but resort to a watch like this one.

The trilogy of the Dark Knight by Christopher Nolan, starting with “Batman Begins”, shows the adventures of Bruce Wayne and his super alter-ego, Batman.

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And it was just very fitting that the production chose a Jaeger-Lecoultre Reverso Grande Taille to accessorize the character in the movie and its sequels.

As you can readily see, the use of a Reverso is a subtle hint to the dual nature of the character - businessman by day, superhero by night - and plays masterfully the choice of an upscale gentleman with refined tastes.

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The choice was so good that the Reverso was present in every chapter of the Batman saga, so, equipping both Christian Bale in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and Val Kilmer in Batman Forever.

While the movies were not exactly a milestone in the Seventh Art, the Reverso is instead a real classic of horology. It was invented during the first years of 1900 to satisfy the needs of the British Polo players in India, who had problems with their watches being smashed during the games.

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So, the watch importer César de Trey described the problem to Jacques-David LeCoultre, who with the support of his partner Edmond Jaeger and the Parisian engineer René-Alfred Chauvot devised a solution: a watch that could rotate on its axis, so to hide the delicate glass in dangerous situations.

The idea was patented in 1931, and the first Reversos were manufactured shortly thereafter.

The version featured in the movie, the “Grande Taille”, is much bigger than the original, and was developed in 1991 to accommodate the recent taste for bigger watches.

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