Be­yond the art of watch­mak­ing, Rolex is im­mersed in the dy­namic world of film, Melissa Twigg writes

Hong Kong Tatler - - Style | Watches -

he worlds of horol­ogy and cin­ema have a sur­pris­ing amount in com­mon. Both em­ploy in­tri­cate tech­nol­ogy and hu­man cre­ativ­ity, tal­ent and as­pi­ra­tion to trans­port the imag­i­na­tion and gen­er­ate plea­sure. And more than any other watch brand, Rolex has been linked to the im­mer­sive pow­ers of moviemak­ing. Not only have Rolex timepieces ap­peared in iconic films over many decades, but the brand’s sup­port of the Academy Awards—and of young film­mak­ers through its phil­an­thropic work—is leg­endary.

For the past 50 years of cin­ema, house­hold names in­clud­ing Paul New­man, Har­ri­son Ford and Mar­lon Brando have strut­ted across the sil­ver screen bran­dish­ing a Rolex—every­thing from Bub­ble­backs and Sub­mariners to Gmt­mas­ters. But what is in­ter­est­ing to dis­cover is that, in many in­stances, the ap­pear­ance of these Rolex watches on the sil­ver screen was purely or­ganic. No clever PR stunts or big buy­outs for Rolex; it was sim­ply the ac­tors and ac­tresses in­sist­ing on wear­ing their watches, or the wardrobe depart­ment de­cid­ing it was an es­sen­tial way of por­tray­ing the char­ac­ter.

Some­times the script de­manded it—for ex­am­ple, in the case of the 1960 film The Fugi­tive Kind, whose char­ac­ter Valen­tine Xavier, played by Mar­lon Brando, ref­er­ences his Rolex chronome­ter in di­a­logue. As a re­sult, the watch be­came part of the sto­ry­telling and an el­e­ment of the film’s plot. Ul­ti­mately, each watch sym­bol­ises a char­ac­ter’s per­son­al­ity, bring­ing to life their jour­ney on screen.

More re­cently, the roles have been re­versed, with four dis­tin­guished film­mak­ers be­com­ing Rolex Tes­ti­monees—kathryn Bigelow, James Cameron, Ale­jan­dro González Iñár­ritu and Martin Scors­ese. All Academy Award win­ners, with their films boast­ing 57 Os­car wins and nominations be­tween them, their works have served as an artis­tic in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the world. These four film­mak­ers have the abil­ity to con­nect with peo­ple across gen­er­a­tions, cul­tures and bound­aries—an open­ness Rolex has also tried to fos­ter.

To honour this decades-old con­nec­tion with Hol­ly­wood, Rolex last year be­came the ex­clu­sive watch brand of the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences, which


or­gan­ises the Academy Awards. Rolex and the academy have sim­i­lar mis­sions—to recog­nise and up­hold ex­cel­lence, in­spire imag­i­na­tion, and con­nect the world through sto­ry­telling—mak­ing them nat­u­ral bed­fel­lows.

For two years now, Rolex has also hosted and de­signed the green room, the back­stage area where ac­tors, ac­tresses, di­rec­tors and pro­duc­ers en­joy a much­needed glass of cham­pagne be­fore they ap­pear on stage dur­ing the Os­cars cer­e­mony. The 2018 green room fea­tured a new de­sign, in­spired by Rolex, with in­flu­ences from the Swiss Alps and ar­chi­tec­tural com­po­nents sim­i­lar to those found on the brand’s watches.

A short film that en­cap­su­lated the spirit of Rolex and its long and var­ied his­tory with cin­ema was broad­cast widely dur­ing the 2017 Os­cars, in­clud­ing the mem­o­rable mo­ments when Rolex watches ap­peared on the wrists of Hol­ly­wood’s most-loved stars.

Rolex’s con­nec­tion with the academy reaches into the essence of film­mak­ing, as the brand is also sup­port­ing the build­ing of the Academy Mu­seum of Mo­tion Pic­tures. Un­der con­struc­tion in Los An­ge­les and due to open in 2019, this fas­ci­nat­ing mu­seum will en­cap­su­late the long and var­ied his­tory of cin­ema. It is ap­pro­pri­ately lo­cated in the his­tor­i­cal heart­land of the movie in­dus­try and will be the na­tion’s first large-scale mu­seum en­tirely ded­i­cated to the art, science, craft, busi­ness and his­tory of movies. De­signed by Pritzker Prize-win­ning ar­chi­tect Renzo Pi­ano, the mu­seum will in­clude a 1,000-seat the­atre, 50,000 square feet of im­mer­sive ex­hi­bi­tion

galleries and a state-of-the-art ed­u­ca­tion stu­dio.

But ar­guably even more im­por­tant than the mu­seum is Rolex’s pi­o­neer­ing work with the next gen­er­a­tion of film­mak­ers. Proud of its role in shap­ing fu­ture Academy Award win­ners and in­spir­ing ex­ist­ing ones, the brand has launched the Rolex Men­tor and Pro­tégé Arts Ini­tia­tive, which has been mak­ing a con­tri­bu­tion to global cul­ture since 2002. The pro­gramme seeks out gifted young artists from all over the world and brings them to­gether with a full teach­ing pro­gramme of artis­tic mas­ters, in­clud­ing a year’s cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tion in a one-on-one men­tor­ing re­la­tion­ship.

And these aren’t your ev­ery­day men­tors— past vol­un­teers in­clude Os­car-win­ning di­rec­tors Iñár­ritu, Scors­ese and Al­fonso Cuarón and edi­tor Wal­ter Murch. They also in­clude Os­car-nom­i­nated di­rec­tors Stephen Frears and Mira Nair, as well as renowned Chi­nese film­maker Zhang Yi­mou.

From museums chart­ing the his­tory of film­mak­ing to in­spir­ing pro­grammes for young di­rec­tors, not to men­tion glit­ter­ing watches sit­ting right there on Har­ri­son Ford’s wrist, Rolex has had a pro­found im­pact on the world of cin­ema. So stay tuned for what the cre­ative brand does next.

FILM LEG­ENDS Cana­dian film­maker and deep-sea ex­plorer James Cameron wears a Rolex Deepsea, while Amer­i­can di­rec­tor Martin Scors­ese (op­po­site page) wears a Rolex Day-date 40

MOVIE MAGIC From top: The 2018 Academy Awards green room was spon­sored and de­signed by Rolex to re­flect the brand’s Swiss her­itage; Kathryn Bigelow wears a Rolex Yacht-mas­ter 40 Op­po­site page: The Academy Mu­seum of Mo­tion Pic­tures is due to open in Los An­ge­les next year

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