Since time immemorial, there has been a special bond between luxury timepieces and celebrities who wear them. While many famous personalities have been officially appointed as ambassadors for renowned watch brands, only a select few have had the experience of seeing their personal association with a watch turn into an iconic status, beyond the conventional realm of marketing.
From the silver screen to the racetrack, here are five iconic personalities who have had more than just a passing interest in horology. They have become inseparable from the very watches they wear or have worn in the past and have turned these timepieces into veritable symbols of style, prestige, and passion for generations to come.
Rolex ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona
Paul Newman, the legendary Hollywood star and a skilled race car driver with a passion for speed, found himself in the fast lane of watches when he was presented with the iconic Rolex ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona (Ref. 6239). This timepiece, specifically crafted for timing heart-pounding car races, was a thoughtful gift from his wife, Joanne Woodward. Adding a cautionary yet affectionate note, she engraved the words, "Drive Carefully, Me", on the back of the watch. Over the next 10 years, countless photographs captured Newman showing off the watch as he fearlessly competed in high profile races. His conquests included a notable second-place triumph at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979.
TAG Heuer ‘McQueen Monaco’
The Monaco 1133 by TAG Heuer watch gained popularity because of Steve McQueen, who wore it in the 1971 film, Le Mans. McQueen wanted authenticity for his role as a race car driver and borrowed from his friend, Jo Siffert, racing gear, featuring Gulf Oil's colours and a ‘Chronograph HEUER’ crest. To complete the look, McQueen chose the newly introduced B model Calibre 12 Monaco watch. After filming, he gifted the watch to his financial advisor, who played a key role in reviving his company's profitability. This association led to the watch being called ‘McQueen Monaco’. TAG Heuer capitalised on McQueen's popularity by featuring stills from the film in their ads. Today, the McQueen Monaco is a highly sought-after piece in the vintage watch market.
The distinctive design of the Panerai Luminor watch captured global attention and played a significant role in the development of specialised Luminor watches for the Italian Navy. However, the watch (Ref. 5218-201/a) was catapulted into stardom only when screen legend Sylvester Stallone discovered the brand and consequently, the timepiece while shooting for the film, Daylight (1996), in Rome. He placed a mass order with the inscription, 'Slytech', a reference to Stallone's beloved nickname, Sly. With friend Arnold Schwartzenegger, Stallone helped Panerai gain widespread popularity. During the launch party of the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Berlin (picture below), which took place in late September 1996, Stallone gifted Schwarzenegger a unique gold-plated Luminor Logo, specifically made for Stallone by Panerai distributor Giancarlo Dallerba.
The true essence of this timepiece's iconic status is undeniably intertwined with James Bond, Agent 007. Worn by Pierce Brosnan during his portrayal of 007 in the film, Golden Eye, in 1995, the dive watch instantly became inseparable from the image of the fictional British spy, leading to an immediate surge in its sales. And all thanks to the Academy Award-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming. This marked the beginning of an unbreakable bond between Omega and the renowned secret agent. Continuing the legacy, the watch remains the preferred timepiece of the present-day 007, Daniel Craig, right from his debut as Bond in Casino Royale.
Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea ‘Cameron’ D-Blue
The 2012 release of the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller with D-Blue Dial was a tribute to James Cameron's remarkable achievement of completing a solo dive into the Mariana Trench's depths, a feat no one had accomplished before. This exclusive timepiece proudly showcases Cameron's name and bears the distinctive inscription, 'Deepsea', in vivid green letters, mirroring the colour of his submarine. By combining elegance with innovation, this special edition watch pays homage to Cameron's groundbreaking expedition while offering a unique and striking design. Its remarkable features make it a coveted item among watch enthusiasts and collectors even today.
Image Credits: Phillips, 24H Le Mans, TAG Heuer, Panerai, Omega, Rolex