Iconic movie watches: from Bond's Omega to Steve McQueen's Tag Heuer

Forget the actors, these watches are the real stars

Iconic movie watches: from Bond's Omega to Steve McQueen's Tag Heuer

Just as the clothes, locations and cars of a film are cast to each play their own part in the story, the watch on a character’s wrist can be just as significant. 

It might hold clues to their backstory, give a subtle nod to viewers in the know, or grow into an entire product range for its manufacturer to dine out on for decades to come.

From Bond with his Rolexes and Omegas, to Bruce Wayne’s Jaeger-LeCoultre, Steve McQueen’s Tag Heuer and the Omega Speedmasters of the crew of the Apollo 13, these are some of the most iconic watches to grace the silver screen.

Rolex Day-Date - Glengarry Glen Ross

  • Alec Baldwin as Blake (1992)

One of the most iconic and recognisable wristwatches of all time, the Rolex Day-Date can be customised in a variety of ways. Buyers can mix-and-match between different sizes, materials, dial colours, hour markings and straps.

But for Alec Baldwin’s character Blake, in Glengarry Glen Ross, the producers went all-out. The result is an all-gold, £25,000 Day-Date which screams ‘loaded’ in the least subtle way possible. But then in this film of cut-throat New York estate agents, such an in-yer-face watch shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Tag Heuer Monaco - Le Mans

  • Steve McQueen (1970)

A Tag Heuer Monaco appeared on the wrist of Steve McQueen in the 1970 film Le Mans, and has been closely associated with motor sport ever since. The square-faced watch has seen many revisions over the decades, but every few years Tag launches a new McQueen-themed version.

The most recent, the Calibre Heuer 11, features a pale blue face with red hour markings, a crown on the left side (just like McQueen’s), and a perforated calfskin strap.

Omega Seamaster 300m Professional - James Bond

  • Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig (1995-2015)

The first watch to feature on Bond’s wrist was a Rolex Submariner 6538, but for the last couple of decades he has been loyal to Omega and its Seamaster range.

The partnership began with Goldeneye in 1995, with Q adding all manner of gadgets to Bond’s Seamaster 300m. Modifications over the Brosnan era included a laser, remote detonator, strobe light and grapple hook 

Despite the brief appearance of the blue-dialed Seamaster Diver on Daniel Craig’s wrist in Casino Royale, today’s Bond wears a black special edition Seamaster 300 Master Chronometer with NATO strap made exclusively for Spectre (2015).

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Grande Taille - Batman

  • Christian Bale - 2005-2012

Bruce Wayne wore watches by Jaeger-LeCoultre throughout the Christopher Nolan trilogy of Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises between 2005 and 2012.

The billionaire vigilante opted for a Reverso Grande Taille for the first two instalments, then strapped on a special edition Grande Reverso Ultra-Thin Tribute to 1931 with Batman symbol on the back of its case for Nolan’s finale.

With its iconic art deco design, pink gold case and oversize rectangle face, this dress watch is certainly more Bruce Wayne than Batman, who we suspect would opt for a supersized Bell & Ross.

Seiko H558-5009 - Predator, Commando

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger - 1980s

Known among collectors as the Arnie for obvious reasons, the Seiko H558 was worn by the Terminator-turned-governor in several of his films during the Eighties, including Commando in 1985 and Predator in 1987.

Designed to be as tough as possible, the large 46mm Seiko H558 could survive climates ranging from -40c to +60c. As such, it was used on multiple adventures to the North and South Poles during the Eighties, and was even worn during an Everest expedition in 1988.

The chunky timepiece features a stainless steel body wrapped in rubber, and was the first dive watch to combine an analogue face with a digital stopwatch.

Omega Speedmaster - Apollo 13

  • Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon - 1995

The Omega Speedmaster played a role not just in the Apollo 13 movie, but also in the failed Moon mission itself. The watch, worn by the mission’s three astronauts, was used to time a 14-second fuel-burn manoeuvre performed by the crew as they fought to bring their stricken spacecraft back to Earth in 1970.

Originally designed for timing sports and racing, the Speedmaster was born in 1957 and was selected for use by NASA in 1965, after performing the best in a series of gruelling tests to simulate life in space and on the Moon. These included being subjected to 71C heat for 48 hours, then heated further to 93C for 30 minutes, before being cooled to -18C for four hours.

For its role on Apollo 13, NASA gave Omega the Silver Snoopy, an award for outstanding achievement related to human space flight.

Casio CA53-W - Back To The Future

  • Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly (1985)

Few movie scenes are more Eighties than Marty McFly rocking double-denim and a bright orange body warmer, while holding a JVC camcorder and wearing a Casio calculator wristwatch.

The Casio CA53-W chosen for the film featured an eight digit calculator, a stopwatch accurate to 1/100 of a second, a digital calendar, and water resistance to 100 meters. And, of course, its face is dominated by the calculator keypad.

Although a high-tech piece of kit at the time, this Casio can be bought today for around £30.

Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3, where he covers topics ranging from classic cars and men's lifestyle, to smart home technology, phones, electric cars, autonomy, Swiss watches, and much more besides. He is an experienced journalist, writing news, features, interviews and product reviews. If that didn't make him busy enough, he is also the co-host of the AutoChat podcast.