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Rolex and cinema through the years

Masters in the art of watchmaking, Rolex is also inextricably linked to the world of cinema. With the nominees of the 91st Academy Awards® recently announced, Creative Feel takes a deeper look at this relationship.

Rolex film Oscars Academy Awards Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese. He is wearing the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40

To compare watchmaking and filmmaking may seem like a stretch at first, but they have a surprising amount in common. Both employ intricate technology – which they are constantly striving to advance – and human creativity, talent and innovation to transport the imagination and to foster delight. This link became even more evident when in 2017 Rolex forged a partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and signed on as a sponsor of the Oscars – cementing a decades-long relationship with cinema, on both sides of the camera, in Hollywood and beyond.

Rolex film Oscars Academy Awards Kathryn Bigelow
Kathryn Bigelow. She is wearing the Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 40

     A short video encompassing the spirit of Rolex and cinema was broadcast widely during the 2017 Academy Awards® (Oscars). It showed memorable scenes in films with Rolex watches on the wrists of legendary characters. Dating back to 1960 and including clips from 19 films, the video features prodigious faces like Paul Newman, Harrison Ford and Marlon Brando. The Rolex watches were often specifically chosen by the filmmakers and, in some cases, even belonged to the actors themselves. In The Fugitive Kind (1960), Brando’s character Valentine Xavier references his Rolex chronometer in dialogue. As a result, the watch became part of the storytelling and an element of the film’s plot.

Rolex film Oscars Academy Awards James Cameron
James Cameron. He is wearing the Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea

     At the 90th Academy Awards® in 2018, another Rolex film was unveiled, this time featuring an impressive line-up of four distinguished filmmakers: Kathryn Bigelow, James Cameron, Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Martin Scorsese. These Rolex Testimonees represent the pinnacle of achievement in film – all are Academy Award winners, with their films boasting 57 Oscar wins and nominations between them.
     An acclaimed director, writer, producer and explorer, Cameron is responsible for some of the most memorable films of the past three decades: The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), The Abyss (1989), Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), True Lies (1994), Titanic (1997), and Avatar (2009). His films have blazed new trails in visual effects and set numerous performance records both domestically and abroad; Avatar is the highest grossing film in history, and Titanic held that same record for twelve years. Cameron’s films have also earned numerous nominations and awards.

Rolex film Oscars Academy Awards Alejandro Inarritu
Alejandro G. Iñárritu. He is wearing the Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller

     Cameron has worn a Rolex for several decades. Rolex watches appear organically in his films; he gave the late actor Bill Paxton a Submariner to wear during the filming of Titanic. ‘Great movies are made in details, and not just a few details – every detail. Every character, every prop and every sequence,’ Cameron says. ‘A Rolex is not only a beautiful watch and a masterpiece of engineering, it’s very tough. It’s a watch that you can take into any environment and which can stand up to the pressure. So, what you’re saying subliminally to the audience is: that character can take the pressure, too; he or she has what it takes.’

To read more about the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative and the watches each cinematic legend wears wears, purchase the March 2019 issue of Creative Feelor to continue supporting our role in the South African arts and culture sector, subscribe to our monthly magazine in print or digital format from only R180.00 per year!

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