The Top 10 Coolest, Best & Most Memorable Watches Ever Seen in Movies, EVER!!!
Updated: Apr 18, 2022
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In this day and age of mass produced smart phones and gadgetry, many would argue that the wristwatch is a thing of the past. But those that think watches are just for telling the time are missing the point. For the distinguished gentleman, a wristwatch is something much greater than the sum of its tiny parts. In the same way people are willing to invest more in real wood furniture, Italian automobiles, hand made goods and tailor made bespoke suits, so are we interested in hand made fine timepieces. There’s something special knowing that you have on your wrist something that may have taken, in some cases, years to assemble by a master watchmaker who has spent as much time studying and perfecting his craft as a medical doctor. They are works of art, mechanical marvels and an outward of expression of who we are. Even as a kid I remember being drawn to watches, browsing the catalogues for my next Casio. A watch can be a very personal thing for a man, a token to ourselves as recognition and reward for hard work and achievement, a rite of passage, an identity. A post of passion, this is a post I’ve been thinking about writing for quite some time. The rate limiting factor has always been deciding which watches make it on to the list and which don’t, but I think I’ve finally reached an equilibrium, so here it is, my list of the top 10 coolest, best and most memorable watches ever seen in movies, EVER!!! Hell yeah!!!
10. Commando – Seiko H558 Hybrid Sport Diver
Possibly the first time I saw a watch in a movie and instantly thought ‘Wow’! I think I was only 8 or 9 years old when I first saw Commando (BBFC Certificate rating 18 years and above haha), an impressionable age I guess. I was in awe seeing Arnie jump out of a plane, land on his feet completely unscathed, take a look at his cool tough guy watch and then go on to release all kinds of hell on the bad guys in true one-man-army style! I actually believed he could do all that stuff! Haha! Awesome!!
An Arnie favourite before he went the way of Audemars Piguet and Panerai, he wore the same model Seiko in quite a few films including Predator, Raw Deal, Running Man and Twins. 9. Back to The Future - Casio CA50 & CA53
At the time, any watch that did anything other than tell the time was kind of cool. So despite it’s ugly façade, this went on to become something of a success. Seeing Marty wear it in Back to the Future only served to make it even more popular and something of an ‘80s icon.
Funny thing is that they can still be picked up on eBay and Amazon pretty cheap! So if you want some affordable movie memorabilia or perhaps just for the sake of nostalgia, go pick one up! But forget any notion of actually using the calculator feature – the damn thing is so small and fiddly to use that this is one instance you’d be forgiven for getting your phone out.
8. Men in Black – Hamilton Ventura
Not really a favourite of mine but I can’t deny that the Hamilton Ventura is a unique, extremely eye catching and highly memorable watch. The current models also feature Swiss ETA automatic (wrist action powered) movements making this the first mechanical watch on the list.
For those of you that are interested, ETA is a company under Swatch that provides the mechanical (non digital / non quartz) mechanism, or movement as we like to call them, that goes inside watches and sells them to other companies. Hence the Ventura is an example of a mechanical watch featuring a Swiss movement which is not manufactured ‘in-house’ by themselves. Many brands do this, Panerai, Bell & Ross, Breitling, IWC and in the past Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet just to name a few. This is not really a problem but some watch companies go to great lengths to rename these ETA movements and make small modifications, sometimes to give the impression that the movement was made ‘in-house’. The original base ETA movements are quite affordable, in the region of several hundred US dollars. So when you see a watch with an ETA movement selling for thousands, it does make you wonder if it’s really worth it. Make sure you do your research before you invest so you really know what you’re getting.
The Ventura is worth a look as an entry into the world of mechanical timepieces especially if you feel a connection to its unique outlook. The Ventura range was originally released in 1957 even before the days of quartz, a time when its design and technology was considered something futuristic and sci-fi. The Ventura has become something of an icon not only for Hamilton but also for American watch history.
7. James Bond / Skyfall – Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean
Omega have spent a hell of a lot of money to convince everyone that Bond wears Omega and for the most part they have succeeded. Ardent Bond fans, however, will be quick to remind you that Bond always wore Rolex in the novels. I, for one, am quite happy the movies have departed in some ways from the novels. Movie Bond and written Bond have become two separate entities. If the movies had remained completely faithful to the books then we probably wouldn’t have ever had Connery play the super spy at all. It’s no secret that author Ian Fleming was never fully sold on casting Connery in the role. I would argue, for once, this deviation from the source material was necessary and is what has made Bond popular. Connery will always be the definition of Bond for most movie fans.
In the latest movie, Daniel Craig sports a nice Omega Seamaster, with Omega’s much flaunted Co-axial movement, a modified ETA base movement.
The Seamaster range has been going strong since 1947 and, in my books, is second only to the Omega Speedmaster Professional in Omega’s portfolio of watches. The Speedmaster Professional is one of the best chronograph watches available, it even fought off competition from Rolex to be selected as the watch of choice for NASA and the astronauts of the Apollo. It’s also the watch of choice for Detective Kate Beckett from everyone’s favourite American crime drama, Castle.
6. Double Team – Omega Tracker
I have no idea what this watch is?? Haha! All I know is that this movie kicks ass! Yeah it’s corny and the acting is bad, but it’s full of action, it’s fun and it goes really well with friends, pizza and booze! I always remember seeing this Omega watch and thinking it was cool.
Functions include a special alert for the residents of the colony to inform them when they must return to their apartments and also a special tracking feature to help you hunt down anyone that’s managed to escape (of course only Jack Quinn has ever been able to do that). I’m pretty sure the watch doesn’t really exist, but it looks damn cool so there you go.
5. Minority Report – Bulgari (Omega Speedmaster X-33 modified to be a Bulgari)
Here’s a controversial watch. A very eye catching piece from Minority Report and, actually, probably the only thing that’s really memorable about that film.
Branded as a Bulgari, there was a lot of interest in the piece and a lot of people were searching to find out what it was. The shock came when people learned that it was in-fact an Omega Speedmaster X-33 with some fake CGI adornments. No one was more shocked than the people at Omega. Who knows why Bulgari did it but suffice to say, Omega sued Bugari and won.
4. Bangkok Dangerous – Ventura V-Tec Sigma
As worn by Nicolas Cage, a beautiful watch from a brand that specializes in high quality digital timepieces.
The brand closed its doors for a few years but is now once again back in the game. A very attractive watch with multiple functions all controlled by the unique scroll wheel.
This is quite a rare and sought after timepiece, though mechanical watch purists may frown on spending so much for a digital watch. Once again, an example of a memorable watch in a forgettable movie. Good choice Mr. Cage, good choice!
3. Transporter – Panerai Daylight
This is probably the watch that re-ignited my interest in timepieces in my adulthood. A badass movie with a badass watch. The movie basically starts with a great wrist shot of the Panerai and for those of you with the DVD, you can hear Jason Statham’s passion for it on the movies audio commentary.
As soon as my friend and I saw it, we were googling to find out what the watch was. I craved for it and around 2006 I was finally able to make it mine. The Panerai Daylight PAM 196.
The unique crown guard at the side has become really iconic. It’s just a small extra piece of metal, but it’s become a much sought after extra piece of metal affording the wearer instant recognition, if that’s what you want. The Daylight featured an ETA movement but in recent years Panerai have started to make their own in-house movements. Below is my PAM 305 in titanium featuring one of Panerai’s first in-house movements.
It has a unique shape as can be seen through the sapphire crystal case back which, as of writing, still hasn’t been faked. Most fakes and replica watches will also use the very same affordable ETA movements that are often used by the real brands, and that’s why the fakes can be so hard to distinguish from the real thing. The movement in the 305, however, has a unique disc shape and affords a unique functionality to how the hour hand is changed on this watch.
Purists are often not fans of Panerai watches, they are large (44mm diameter cases and above), blingy, and previously sold for quite a lot despite containing relatively cheap ETA movements. Despite this, Panerai have created a rock hard action man identity for themselves with a very loyal following that couldn’t care less for the naysayers. And who doesn’t, once in a while, enjoy someone recognizing and asking them about the watch they’re wearing. Let’s just say, from my experiences wearing them, they do go down well with the ladies.
2. Trading Places – Rouche Foucauld World Complication
A strong contender for the number one spot is the Rouche Foucauld World Complication.
Beautiful isn’t it? I’ll let you in on a secret – this watch doesn’t exist! Watch super blog Hodinkee did a great April fools hoax some time back, which even included this mockup image of the watch. I will let Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) tell you all you need to know about this beauty: “This is a Rouche Foucauld. The thinnest water resistant watch in the world. Singularly unique, sculptured in design, handcrafted in Switzerland and water resistant to three atmospheres. This is THE sports watch of the 80s. Six thousand, nine hundred and fifty five dollars retail, it tells time simultaneously in Monte Carlo, Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Rome and Gstaad!” I love how pompous all the features are, fits Aykroyd’s character perfectly and embodies everything we imagine snobbish watch collectors to be. If there's one thing we can be grateful to Panerai for, it's that they changed the spectrum of personalities associated with watch collecting to include tough guys! Hell Yeah!
Trading Places is an excellent movie back from when Eddie Murphy was still a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you should definitely do yourself a favour and check it out!
1. Iron Man – Bulgari Diagono Complication Moonphase
So here we are, my number one movie watch of all time!!! Iron Man! Bulgari Diagono Complication Moonphase!
Just look at it, it’s beautiful and yes, this is a real watch!
A 42mm diameter rose gold case, an in-house automatic movement consisting of 347 parts, 44 hours power reserve and really cool looking retrograde (hands that jump back to the start when they reach the end) moonphase indicator (in case you need to plan the timing of your covert black-ops mission to be done in the darkness of zero moonlight and when the tide is low) as well as retrograde day and date indicators. Limited to 300 pieces, this bad boy will set you back a cool $42,900.
Wait a minute!!! What does Tony Stark’s DC rival Bruce Wayne, AKA Batman, have to say in this comic book billionaires watch faceoff? Well, Christian Bale can be seen clearly wearing a Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso Grande Date.
A fine timepiece which I am fortunate to have myself, it makes for a very good, reliable, smart and functional work watch but in this faceoff it just can’t rival the awesomeness of the Bulgari.
The JLC is just too safe and I guess, perhaps, that fits with the persona of the mostly dull Bruce Wayne. If I remember correctly, in the scene pictured above, Bruce is even given fashion advice from his butler for wearing a really lame 3-button suit more befitting of the 90s. Nope, I’m sorry, Stark and his Bulgari are the easy winners of this movie watches special.
It’s not the biggest watch in the world, it’s not the most expensive by a long shot (there are watches that cost millions), nor does it have the fanciest complications. What it does do is look amazing, fit the persona of our charismatic hero perfectly and gives us viewers something to aspire towards. I think this watch rocks!!!
And clearly I am not alone as Ariel Adams states on his watch super blog, ablogtowatch.com, his article on the watches of the first Iron Man movie was his most viewed article for over six months! Impressive.
For us mere mortals, there are alternatives, such as my Bulgari Diagono Chrono 303 Sincere edition. With only 20 pieces commissioned, it's pretty rare, features the famour Frédéric Piguet 1185 automatic column wheel chronograph movement, looks cool and is ultimately the favourite within my collection.
So that I think about wraps it up, the top 10 coolest, best and most memorable watches ever seen in movies, EVER!!! Hell yeah!!!
Let me know what you think and if there are any watches you think I should have included in the list.
Signing out, Dr. Bobby Stryker