Brawn and brain are the makings of the quintessential celluloid action figures. Then, of course, come their uber cool accessories. Be it James Bond chasing villains in his Aston Martin—while not busy with flings and sipping martini—or the vigilante Bruce Wayne keeping a watch over Gotham City as Batman.
Though these characters are fictional, their penchant for finer things in life, such as luxury watches, enhances their desirability quotient. After all, timekeeping is imperative for on-screen heroes, especially while tracking down villains or defusing a bomb or saving that damsel in distress.
Flashback to 1954, when author Ian Fleming’s second novel, Live and Let Die, makes a reference to Bond wearing a Rolex. And, as Agent 007 made his silver screen debut in 1962, the role was essayed by the enigmatic Sean Connery, and he wore a Rolex Submariner.
Rolex saw a long partnership with the Bond production company, Eon, till 1995, when actor Pierce Brosnan took over as the new Bond in Golden Eye. He wore an Omega Seamaster Quartz Professional. This replacement was viewed as one of the biggest promotional exercises by a watch brand.
In 2006, when actor Daniel Craig replaced Brosnan in Casino Royale, he sported a Seamaster Professional 300M as well as a Seamaster Professional Planet Ocean. In Quantum of Solace, he used the same watches, and the third installment, Skyfall, saw Craig flaunting an Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean limited edition watch.
Launched along with the film’s release in 2012, this was the first time Omega produced a 42mm Seamaster. Like every Planet Ocean, the new Bond watch is geared up for underwater adventure. It is water-resistant to 600m, and has a unidirectional rotating diving bezel and a helium escape valve, which helps during deep dives.
The polished stainless-steel case, with a matching, patented screw-and-pin bracelet, has a divers’ clasp that has a “007” engraving. The rotating bezel is distinguished by its matte-black ceramic ring with a chromium nitride diving scale. The applied indices on the black dial are coated with white Super-LumiNova, which emits a blue glow.
Produced in a limited edition of 5,007 pieces, the Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Skyfall Limited Edition is equipped with Omega’s new Co-Axial Calibre 8507, which is visible through the sapphire crystal caseback.
Another espionage film that showcases luxury timekeeping is the 2012 hit The Bourne Legacy, starring Jeremy Renner as CIA agent Aaron Cross. This was the fourth part of the Bourne series launched in 2002.
Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen secured a partnership with Universal Pictures to adorn Renner’s wrist with an IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition TOP GUN. Powered by the 79230-calibre chronograph movement, the watch measures 46mm and comes in a black high-tech ceramic case. The crown, push-buttons and caseback are made of matte grey titanium. This watch is no longer in production, but served as the predecessor to the current IWC Pilot’s Watch collection.
Probably the first actor to strike your mind while discussing action films is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Audemars Piguet, a brand known for their robust timepieces, has had a close association with the robust actor. In 1984, Arnold struck gold with the epic sci-fi film, The Terminator. Along with the soaring popularity of this cult movie and its sequels in 1991 and 2003, he ushered in an era in which chunky watches became a rage on the silver screen.
An avid watch collector, Arnold decided to use Audemars Piguet watches for his subsequent movies—as long as he was allowed to contribute to the design element. This was evident in the Royal Oak Offshore End of Days Chronograph, which made its debut in the 1999 release End of Days, in which Arnold plays a secret agent.
Also called ‘Austrian Oak’, this limited series model was the first total black Royal Oak Offshore with yellow hands and a Kevlar strap. In 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, he wore a 52.5mm Royal Oak Offshore T3 Chronograph, the largest Offshore produced so far.
Talking of Arnie, how can one not think of Sylvester Stallone? Established in Florence in 1860, Officine Panerai was the official supplier of timepieces to the Italian navy in the late 19th century. It became popular on the big screen with Sylvester Stallone’s 1996 hit, Daylight.
Stallone was impressed by a big, black model with a 42mm case in one of the shops in Florence, and he decided to not only wear it in the film but also present it to his friends. He ordered 200 watches with his signature engraved on the caseback. Thereon, the bond between the Stallone and Officine Panerai strengthened, as the brand appeared on his wrist in several films, The Expendables being a notable example.
Superheroes, too, have been associated with luxury timekeeping. Who else but the billionaire industrialist and philanthropist, Bruce Wayne, better known as Batman, to establish the fact? Jaeger-LeCoultre partnered with the Batman franchise about 17 years ago to equip his wrist with the brand’s iconic timepiece—The Reverso—which is capable of bearing hard knocks without shattering, thanks to the flip case.
Actor Val Kilmer was the first one to wear a limited-edition Reverso Grande Taille watch in the 1995 blockbuster, Batman Forever. And in 2012, the watch was seen again in the third installment of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. Actor Christian Bale, who stepped into the shoes of the caped crusader almost nine years ago in the first part, Batman Begins, wore a customised Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra Thin Tribute to 1931. Composed of over 50 mechanical components, this watch is characterised by the Bat-Shield logo, visible only when reversed.
Actor Robert Downey Jr is synonymous with the witty Tony Stark, as he played the character to perfection in the 2008 Marvel Comics adaptation of Iron Man. The character—an American millionaire, playboy and technical genius— relied on his Bulgari Diagono Chronograph timepiece, especially when activating the various features of his ingenious armoured suit.