In 1958, 102 years after Eterna was founded, the Swiss watchmaker ventured into celebrity endorsement to launch the Golden Heart, a delicate 18ct gold cocktail watch boasting the smallest automatic movement in the world. Rather than soliciting the services of the reigning Hollywood glamour queens Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor as ambassadors, Eterna chose two “icons of world cinema for this ravishing and romantic watch”. Italian screen siren Gina Lollobrigida was a star of much greater stature than the newcomer French sex kitten Brigitte Bardot, but both ladies typified the sun-soaked glamour of La Dolce Vita and the French Riviera.
“La Lollo”, as she was affectionately known, was born in the Roman suburb of Subiaco in 1927. As a teenager, the dark-eyed, raven-haired beauty with bee-stung lips and a perfect hourglass figure, was a beauty pageant queen who worked as an extra in the burgeoning post-war Italian film industry centred on Cinecittà in Rome. In 1947 she entered the Miss Italy pageant and came third. But she had captured the attention of the wolves who directed the European and American movie business. Howard “The Aviator” Hughes invited Lollobrigida to Hollywood in 1950 but she decided instead to remain in Europe and would not make a Hollywood movie until 1959.