Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Rolex and its Perpetual Links to Cinematic Masterpieces

Rolex has had a long history with film, from its appearance on the wrists of iconic actors, to its current relationship with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

May 05, 2021 | By Abram Yum

What do the skilled watchmakers at Rolex and the Academy Awards (also known as the Oscars) have in common? According to the watch manufacture, it’s the celebration of innovations and creation of masterpieces. Rolex recently released a film for the Oscars which highlighted the similarities between the craft of watchmaking and filmmaking. Given their historical pursuits of excellence, it is little surprise that the two entities have entered a partnership to promote their respective arts.

A Spontaneous Ignition

The watch manufacture’s relationship with film had a spontaneous start, beginning with their appearance on the wrists of some of modern cinema’s first stars. Soon, these watches began to appear on-screen as well. To quote a few notable examples, Marlon Brando wore a Rolex when he played Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now,Bill Paxton had one when playing Treasure Hunter, Brock Lovett, in Titanic, and so did Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson in The Colour of Money.

These watches appeared long before Rolex entered any film partnership or sponsorship deals. Yet, actors and directors recognised the ideals that Rolex stood for and the qualities they exuded. Actors chose to wear their timepieces because they symbolised power and success. Directors and producers chose to have their characters wear them to depict a subtle sense of ruggedness, combined with an impeccable sense of style.

Formally Supporting the Arts

Rolex is arguably one of the finest names in watchmaking, with a celebrated history of innovations and excellence established by their founder, Hans Wilsdorf. This ethos which drove the manufacture in its creation of superior timepieces also led to their formal recognition and support of those who pursuing excelling in the cinematic arts.

In 2017, Rolex began its journey with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as its exclusive timepiece. It also became the sponsor of the Oscars and the annual Governors Awards organised by the Academy. The partnership continues to push individuals to strive for excellence in the film industry and helps to promote the art and heritage of filmmaking in different ways.

Apart from being a sponsor of the Oscars and the exclusive watch of the Academy, Rolex has also hosted the Oscars Greenroom annually since 2016. This year, the Oscars were held at the Union Station in Los Angeles. This historically significant American train station was also the location for the 93rd Oscars Greenroom, which hosted guests and presenters prior to going on-stage. The Greenroom’s intimate settings were designed by Rolex and featured walls decorated with fabrics inspired by the motif of Union Station combined, with a verdant “green wall” made of a real foliage. Rounding off the décor was a collection of specially curated photographs, serving as an homage to the crafting of masterpieces in film and horology.

Rolex, in its partnership with the Academy, is also deeply committed to ensuring that the legacy of filmmaking is not just advanced but immortalised for future generations. This led to the Swiss watch manufacture becoming a Founding Supporter of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Designed by award-winning architect Renzo Piano, the new museum aims to provide them with a look at how movies are created, showcasing the science behind the art. Rolex will also host a gallery tracing the brand’s role in the history of film. By supporting the museum, Rolex aims to preserve and pass on the historic art of filmmaking to future generations.

Additionally, through the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, the watch manufacture hopes to do more than inspire young minds to pursue the arts, and provide them with actual instruction and guidance. The Initiative, established in 2002, has seen gifted young artists from a variety of disciplines being mentored by masters in these fields. Notable professionals include James Cameron, the person behind such masterpieces as The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), and Avatar (2009), and Martin Scorsese, with more than 50 years in the industry and creations like Mean Streets (1973), Taxi Driver (1976), and Raging Bull (1980). The two have also had a long history with Rolex, featuring the iconic timepieces in their films and even wearing them as they go about their lives. Again, this highlights the mutual respect that the watch manufacture and filmmakers have for one another.

A word that has long been associated with Rolex is “perpetual”, specifically with the Rolex Oyster. However, it goes far beyond a single watch model. It embodies Wilsdorf’s vision for the manufacture, fuelling it to pursue and uphold traditions of excellence, immortalising them for future generations. Rolex’s partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a shining example of the brand’s commitment to this cause.

To find out more about Rolex and its relationship to film, head over to their website.

All images courtesy of Rolex.

Back to top