Rolex watches have made indelible impressions whenever they appear on the big screen, with memorable cameos in Glengarry Glen Ross, Marathon Man, Apocalypse Now, The Wolf of Wall Street, Get Carter, The Usual Suspects (below), LA Confidential, and of course, a slew of classic James Bond films.
These Rolex watches enrich the identity of the characters who wear them with their powerful symbolism. When a character wears a Rolex watch, it is an artistic choice made by the actors and directors. Thanks to these watches and their screen presence, Rolex is indissociable from the world of film. Its presence on their wrist adds information to the plot. The personal effect lends the character a possible history, past and destiny.
James Cameron put a gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date on the wrist of Bill Paxton’s character, Brock Lovett in Titanic (1997), indicating the character’s bold and adventurous nature, and hinting at his success as an undersea explorer.
Martin Scorsese had Paul Newman’s character, “Fast Eddie” Felson wear a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust in Oystersteel in The Color of Money (1986), instantly imparting to the viewer a sense of the character’s precision, timeless elegance and subtle approach, a performance that earned him the Oscar for Best Actor in 1987.
Both filmmakers and Rolex Testimonees believe the symbolism of the Rolex watch that lends something of the temperament, taste, values, aspirations and mindset to the character who wears it.
A Legendary Actor’s Watch
Paul Newman would come to be associated with another Rolex timepiece, the Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona, which he wore from 1969 until 1984.
Considered as one of the most iconic watches in history, indeed there is quite a remarkable story to the piece. The watch was originally given to Newman by his wife Joanne Woodward when the two starred together in the 1969 movie, Winning, set at the Indianapolis 500. Newman had learned to drive a racing car for the role, fell in love with motorsport, and subsequently embarked on a career as a racing driver.
To remind her husband to take care on the track, Woodward gave him a steel chronograph watch — great for clocking lap times — with the words “Drive carefully” and below that, “me”, engraved on the caseback.
Seen on the wrist of Newman both in his racing as well as personal life, the Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona would gain its status as a modern icon.
This iconic timepiece can now be found in the Rolex Gallery, on the third floor of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures which opened late last year with Rolex as a Founding Supporter. In total, the museum in Los Angeles features 4,500 square metres of gallery space for exhibitions, two theatres, an educational studio and event spaces.
Rolex’s presence in the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is part of its larger role in supporting the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) since 2017, as the Exclusive Watch of the Academy and Proud Sponsor of the Oscars ceremony and Exclusive Sponsor of the Governors Awards.
The partnership between the Swiss watch manufacture and the film industry’s highest authority underscores their shared values to promote excellence in film and preserve its legacy for future generations, and to celebrate cinema’s universal values.
Whether appearing in films or on the wrists of iconic individuals such as Paul Newman, Rolex watches possess undeniable star quality and an appeal that remains Perpetual.