TG watches

Richard Holt on the movie in­dus­try’s love of watches

Top Gear (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Sylvester Stal­lone may be in his seven­ties but he is still tough as gran­ite and punt­ing out ac­tion movies all over the place. As a film star, he is a le­gend, and his com­mit­ment as a car fan is well known – a Bu­gatti Vey­ron, and a whole load of Fer­raris, As­ton Martins and AMGs – but some­thing un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated about Stal­lone is the ex­tent of his in­flu­ence on style, and in par­tic­u­lar watches.

Stal­lone spent time in Switzer­land as a teenager, and press­ing his nose up against the posh Geneva watch shops, he dreamed of a day when he could buy him­self some­thing fancy. When the first Rocky money came in, he bought the first of many gold Rolex Sub­mariners, but it was with a com­pany from his fa­ther’s home­land that Stal­lone made his mark.

In the Nineties he was in Rome shoot­ing the dis­as­ter film Day­light. On the look­out for some­thing ma­cho to wear on­screen, he spot­ted an un­usu­ally large watch from a lit­tle-known Ital­ian brand called Pan­erai, which sup­plied navy divers in the For­ties and Fifties. He liked it so much he bought sev­eral for friends – in­clud­ing a fel­low ac­tor called Arnold. They both wore the watches in films, and with the com­bined mus­cle of Stal­lone and Sch­warzeneg­ger, Pan­erai be­came huge.

The ef­fect went far be­yond one com­pany, spear­head­ing an on­go­ing trend for big mil­i­tary watches that go just as well with a well-cut suit. Pan­erai also changed the game for prod­uct place­ment. There used to be the odd watch here and there, then sud­denly com­pa­nies like Hamil­ton were get­ting masses of screen time, even de­sign­ing spe­cial one-off movie watches.

Pan­erai may have led the way, but its in­flu­ence hasn’t waned. In the Ex­pend­ables fran­chise, half the stars wear Pan­erais – the watches are even seen front and cen­tre on promo posters. Watches once had cameo roles; now they are stars in their own right.

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