From time to time we get asked by clients to identify watches that they’ve seen on the tv or in movies and then to source them one just like it.
Unless the watch has a very famous movie role then this is the start of a very enjoyable investigative process which can take on almost James Bond style proportions – see what I did there? No? Ok, let me explain.
Among watch lovers, probably the most famous movie role for a watch is the Rolex 6538 Submariner worn by Sean Connery in the 1964 movie ‘Goldfinger’. This appearance was so popular that the 6538 is now known as the ‘James Bond Submariner’. It’s not a particularly beautiful watch by vintage Rolex standards and while it’s scarce, it’s certainly not the rarest of things – is it costly? Of course it is! James Bond wore one and above all else that makes it desirable.
Probably the other really well known movie role for a watch is the Heuer Monaco worn by Steve McQueen in the 1971 motor racing film ‘Le Mans’ – this movie did no harm at all for the profile of the pre TAG brand and helped to cement forever the public perception of Heuer as the ultimate motorsport watch.
In another turn up though, Steve McQueen is connected to the biggest misnomer in the world of movie watches as his name is forever linked to the rare and highly desirable Rolex 1655 Explorer II – ‘The Rolex Steve McQueen’. So far so humdrum. Except the thing is that as far as we can tell, McQueen never wore a 1655 – he certainly didn’t wear one regularly and was generally photographed wearing a 5512 Submariner…Which is NEVER called the Steve McQueen incidentally..
The other major Rolex misnomer is of course the ‘Paul Newman Daytona’ which is not in fact one model of watch at all but a name that refers to several vintage ‘exotic dial’ Daytonas with certain characteristics. While Newman was undoubtedly the Daytona’s biggest ambassador, he was known to wear at least five different vintage exotic dialed models over the years, all of which have become known as ‘The Paul Newman’. These now command more than double the price of similar watches from the same period with regular dials – are they rare? Not really. More beautiful than a standard dialed model? Maybe, maybe not. But Paul Newman wore one and that’s enough to open a lot of deep pockets.
More recent watch appearances that have caused a stir are Liam Neeson’s Rolex Deep Sea Sea Dweller in ‘Unknown’, one of which I later sourced for a client and Christian Bale’s JLC Reverso from ‘Batman – The Dark Knight Rises’. This actually spawned a signature model from the often under appreciated godfather of Swiss watch brands – one that’s now extremely difficult to get hold of.
And Butch’s Rolex from ‘Pulp Fiction’?
I’m afraid that there I’m going to have to ask to be excused…