It’s not surprising that watches appear in a lot of films. They are accessories that we use in everyday life and so in films they sometimes play a significant role. Just think, for example, of Apollo 13, and the Omega Speedmaster used by the astronauts during their journey home. Or Drive, in which Ryan Gosling times the five minutes that he gives to the criminals to do what they have to do before driving off, with or without them.
In some films, watches just appear anonymously, like the Patek Philippe in Drive, the Speedmaster in Apollo 13, and the Lancet by Langendorf, an antique watch, in Pulp Fiction. Today, they are part of product placement, a new form of advertising representing huge investments for watch companies. We don’t know how much Omega paid to induce James Bond to change his preference in watches from a Rolex Submariner to an Omega Seamaster, but you can get an idea from the price paid by Heineken to persuade Daniel Craig to drink their beer (Casino Royale) instead of his vodka martina: $45 million.
With Hamilton, the story is a bit different, because they are the classic American watch brand and so they have long had links to Hollywood, starting from a watch worn by Richard Widmark 60 years ago in The Frogmen, 1951. Often the brand receives requests for a unique watch, a timepiece that does something special, as in Men in Black, when they made their triangular Ventura with a luminous dial.
One of the big releases this autumn is Interstellar, a film directed by Christopher Nolan, for which Hamilton created a watch for Murph, played by Jessica Chastain. The starring role Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) also wears a Hamilton, the Hamilton Pilot Khaki Pilot Day Date, reference H 64615135. This watch is an attractive combination of the classic pilot’s watch, with a 42 mm dial, large chunky hands with loads of SuperLuminova, an hour scale cleverly positioned so that the skeleton tip of the hour hand corresponds exactly to the hours, a minute hand with its own scale at the edge of the watch, and then day and date windows. The Calibre 2834-2 movement can be seen through the sapphire caseback. It is a classic ETA movement providing 38-40 hours power reserve, and it also provides the hacking seconds function for the central seconds hand. The watch is a 2013 piece, and its price is around €980.
The other watch that appears, worn by Murph, is a one-off, with a number of classic Hamilton features as shown in the design drawings. This is a very attractive piece, with a case with circular sanding contrasting with a ring of bright steel, a black dial, pilot’s hands, and numerals whose design recalls Panerai’s stencil type numbers. The slim seconds hand has an arrow-shaped counterweight, and marks time on a scale with 1/5th second divisions. Very attractive.
Below, the design drawings for Murph’s watch in Interstellar:
Below, a still from the film Interstellar: