5 Luxury Automatic Mechanical Watches That Made History in Hollywood Action Films
Sean Connery introduced James Bond into the Hollywood film cannon when he appeared in the first installment of the iconic series in 1962’s Dr. No. Connery wore a Rolex Submariner ref. 6538 on the big screen while tracking down the mysterious Dr. No bent on destroying the U.S. space program. The ref. 6538, which was first produced sometime around 1953, would go on accompanying Connery as Bond on his missions in films such as From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, and Thunderball.
The films ultimately solidified the Rolex Submariner ref. 6538 as an icon in its own right, especially in watch-collecting circles. An example of the particular model sold for $1,068,500 at Christie’s on June 13, 2018; it is the most expensive Rolex Submariner ever sold to date.
Arguably one of the greatest flight films of all time, Top Gun firmly solidified Tom Cruise as one of the biggest film stars of his generation. Most people assume that Cruise wore an IWC to complete his training missions as the hotshot fighter-pilot-in-training, Maverick, because the Swiss watchmaker has issued several Top Gun–branded timepieces over the years, but it was actually a Porsche Design Orfina 7176s. Made by watch manufacturer Orfina for Porsche design in the ’80s, the timepiece featured a self-winding Lemania caliber 5100 and came in PVD-coated stainless steel with a day/date indicator, chronograph registers at 12 o’clock, six o’clock, and nine o’clock, and a tachyometer scale. A rerelease of the timepiece was issued in late 2010.
Fun fact: A sequel titled Top Gun: Maverick is slated for release in 2020 with Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer reprising their roles as Maverick and Iceman, respectively. Maverick’s 2020 timepiece is currently still classified information, but Porsche Design would be wise to get in on the action again.
Tom Hanks appropriately wore an Omega Speedmaster while re-creating astronaut Jim Lovell’s ill-fated journey aboard Apollo 13, when an oxygen-tank leak caused the crew to abort their lunar mission and return to Earth in a harrowing near-death experience. The Omega Speedmaster was the timepiece of choice by NASA for astronauts venturing into the new space frontier thanks to its ability to withstand intense sunlight, cold, and g-force shock. While it is most famous for having adorned the wrists and space suits of astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins for Apollo 11’s first lunar landing on July 20, 1969, it proved lifesaving for Apollo 13.
It was astronaut Jack Swigert’s Omega Speedmaster that saved the lives of everyone aboard Apollo 13. Once the spaceship lost power, the astronauts were only able to burn the engine for 14 seconds at a time to make navigational trajectory adjustments to return safely to Earth before turning it off. Lovell and his fellow astronauts used Swigert’s Omega Speedmaster chronograph to measure the short intervals of time. Houston, problem solved.
In 1970, Omega was awarded NASA’s Silver Snoopy Award—one of the greatest honors the space program can bestow on employees and contractors for outstanding achievements related to human flight safety and mission success—for safely bringing the astronauts of Apollo 13 back to Earth. In 2015, Omega unveiled a Snoopy edition of the Omega Speedmaster, featuring a rendering of the famous Peanuts character on a dial counter and on the caseback, to commemorate its historic role for the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission.