It’s no new thing. In 1927 British cross channel swimmer Mercedes Gleitze emerged from the drink not only smeared in lard, but also sporting a new fangled Oyster wristwatch given to her by Rolex. The most potent association to date is arguably James Bond’s Rolex Submariner, which managed to grace his wrist in all pictures from 1962-1977. Fleming equipped his spy with what he thought worked best for the character and Rolex have never officially endorsed the relationship. The other well known compelling watch placement is Steve McQueen wearing a Tag Heuer Monaco Chronograph in the 1971 film Le Mans. Jack Heuer gave him the watch in return for a signed picture. Hooking the right character or face to a watch can be pivotal to success. We now witness a stellar cast of supporting wrists in the equation. Brad, Uma, George (Clooney, not Michael), John (Travolta, not Inman), have all put theirs to use. So have Orlando Bloom, Kevin Spacey, and John Malkovich. Pretty much everyone’s involved. Faced with such a smorgasbord of reps, here at Finch’s Quarterly, we’ve been musing and compiling our dream ambassadors list.
Bless the current standard bearers; they pale somewhat in the presence of our gang. Steven McQueen in TAG and Connery’s Bond make it in. Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing conquered Everest wearing Rolex, and had the Explorer model named after them for their endeavours. They’re also on the list for sheer grit and originality of the names.
Who other to appoint as a viceroy of suave than Cary Grant in Hitchcock’s To Catch A Thief? Grant’s portrayal of retired jewel heister along side Grace Kelly set against the French Riviera, surely affords the pinnacle of product placement for an item of haute horology. The film’s tag line, ‘Wanted by the police in all the luxury spots of Europe!’ even adds to the distinction. Cary’s time in the film is spent in both black tie and the black garb of the cat burglar. Sophistication teamed with daring is surely the blue print for Milk Tray man, never mind Bond. I never ceased to be seduced by the grace and chic of Cartier. Their refinement melded with a pioneering spirit captures something truly covetable. The Tortue 8 day power reserve in pink gold, from the collection Privee is just the select for Robie the thief turned uber smoothy.
Paul Newman managed to lend his name to the Rolex Daytona without ever wearing one in a film; such was the impact of a portrait shot of him wearing that model. Perusing Newman’s most notable films, his characters in The Hustler or The Sting could certainly deliver exciting watch deployment. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof might be dramatic and impactful, but not entirely aspirational. I’m very tempted to suggest Paul’s portrayal of Doug Roberts in the The Towering Inferno would work well in the line up. Something direct and robust for this scenario. A no-nonsense piece of kit such as the Panerai Radiomir. Rose gold with a black dial perhaps as we’re talking mid seventies.
In the 1968 version of The Thomas Crown Affair with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, Crown times his robberies using a handsome fob watch. His squared off waistcoats on his three piece suits accommodate a pocket watch effectively. A vintage Hunter from the 19th century would administer a suitably high dose of connoisseur credentials to satiate a chap like Tommy Crown. IWC’s yellow gold hand wound fob would deliver that frisson of history to his thirst for action.
Our last fantastic envoy is Marcello Mastroianni playing the mohair suited, Persol toting gossip journo’ in La Dolce Vita. Our emissary of savvy and Italian verve is an original modernist. Marcello would be immersed in the latest ideas and moods in horology, and would be decked out with an Instrument UNO from the luxury modernists Grisogono. The two time zone watch sits perfectly with his slim suit stance and allows him to keep track of time in the US as well as elsewhere in Europe, reflecting the multi national flavour of LDV.
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