The Surprising Story Behind The Watches You See on TV and in Movies

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Despite the public’s immense interest in Rolex and Patek Philips seen onscreen in ‘Succession’ or ‘Don’t Look Up’, watches can sometimes be counterfeit

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Mr. Wind primarily sells rare Rolex and Patek Philippe watches to private collectors, but in recent years, they have made a major feature appearance for films and TV shows including “Crazy Rich Asian” and FX’s “The Premise”. . A subculture that bridges the intersection between horology and pop-culture and has ripple effects for watch marketing, blog viewing, and watch collectors.

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The role of Mr. Wind is an unusual one in Hollywood—many shows and movies use replica watches, not actual watches. Tight film budgets typically prevent $50,000 from buying Chopard outright, while borrowing, say, a genuine Rolex or Audemars Piguet requires producers to take out a hefty insurance policy and sometimes hire a security guard. Take-all for an item that occupies a sliver of screen for a few seconds. (To secure genuine watches, productions sometimes enter into direct deals with brands, making them the official timepiece provider for a film—the most famous example being the James Bond franchise’s association with Omega.)

Less valuable prop watches are often easier to use. For example, in Adam McKay’s recent apocalyptic comedy “Don’t Look Up,” actor Jonah Hill wears a Prop Richard Mille RM52-01 Skull Tourbillon watch. A real model costs around $600,000, and as told by the film’s costume designer, Susan Matheson. gq.com, there were concerns that such an expensive watch might get swiped off the set. Hence the decision to use a fake instead (one that prompted fans of the viewing to write blog posts about how bizarre and outright fake it appeared).

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“Don’t Look Up” is hardly the only production to cut horological corners. A box-fresh, circa-$15,000 Patek Philippe watch that is believed to have been featured in the pilot of HBO’s “Succession” was actually a duplicate. In a more recent episode of that series, when corporate power usurper Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) received a different watch as a birthday gift, the showrunners used an even more economical trick: they put the watch face on the screen. Didn’t show at all. (For other times, the show’s prop team sources genuine luxury timepieces from Manhattan watch showrooms.)

According to Mr. Wind, however, some showrunners, directors and even the actors themselves are watch hoarders, who will go to great lengths to ensure that the watches filmed are both distinctive and accurate. For the 2018 film adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s book “Crazy Rich Asians,” the author (a client of Mr. Wind) asked him to locate a clock for an important scene where the audience would clearly see the clock. In an email to Mr Wind, Mr Kwan wrote that he needed a model “that would really impress watch collectors.” Mr Wind tracked down a collector in Singapore with a “Paul Newman” Rolex Daytona (a similar model sold for $17.8 million) ready to part with the watch for a few days. Production paid for the watch to be taken from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur for shooting and the details of the insurance policy were handled.

Recently, actor Daniel Dae Kim, who appears on the FX anthology show “The Premise” (and is another client), asked Mr. Wind to provide some of the watches he wore in the series. (Mr. Kim had the blessing of reaching production.) At his own expense, Mr. Wind flew to New Orleans to distribute to the lenders, where the show was being shot. Mr. Wind’s side gig is far from lucrative: he doesn’t get paid for the time he invests in a watch loan arrangement. He sometimes loses money to facilitate them and sometimes has to assume responsibility for the watches himself. But, as Mr. Wind observed, getting accurate watches in movies “helps promote watches and viewing culture.” It is also good for networking and its professional profile. While coordinating the loans for “The Premise”, she had the chance to meet showrunner BJ Novak.

To aid in “The Wonder Years,” Mr. Wind factored in the potential 1960-era salaries of the show’s college-professor father and accountant mother, and typed up a dossier detailing a list of seemingly inexpensive, period-accurate watches. The recommendation was made which he could source and credit for the show. The depth of the idea impressed Mr. Wind in consultation with executive producer Mr. Savage, who asked the series’ showrunner, Saladin K. Patterson and together with stars Dual Hill and Saxon Sengblo selected the final watch. If you pay close attention to your screen, you can spot Jaeger-LeCoultre and Cartier watches on the actors’ wrists. “When you’re putting together a show, a lot of care and energy goes into these little details that help tell the story of who the character is,” Mr. Savage said. “Every time I catch a glimpse [the watches] On camera, I get excited.”

Fans also get excited for the on-screen watches. In a cottage industry dedicated to “see spotting”, such as horizontally focused websites hodinkie And time + tide Often round up timepieces from shows and movies. Craig Karhar, a lawyer in New York, runs the blog WristEnthusiast.com In his spare time, writing one of the most read things on the site about watches worn in shows and movies like “Entourage,” “The Office” and “Fast & Furious” franchises. His writings on the clock of “succession” have proved a particular draw. Every Sunday night when the series was airing, Mr. Kargar would see “a huge boost of traffic” to the site from people searching for “succession watches”.

For brands, wearing their watches on screen could be a marketing win. When a watch is attached to a movie or show, “it” [gets] A story and people want to have a story with the product,” said Vivian Stauffer, CEO of the Swiss watchmaker hamilton, whose watches have been worn on screen in hundreds of films related to the 1932 “Shanghai Express”. If you’re watch-agnostic, you probably won’t notice that Elvis Presley wore Hamilton’s “Ventura” design in “Blue Hawaii” or that Matt Damon had a “Zero Below” watch in “The Martian.” But Mr Stauffer notes that fans of the brand often buy a watch, at least partly because they saw it in a cherished movie.

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