Nicole Kidman joins Omega in Milan for the celebration of over a century of women’s watchmaking. Forever the perfect ambassador, she sits down with the watch press to catch up on her work, her family and her love for watches.
Where do you get the courage for the roles you play?
I choose my roles on instinct. I’m at a time when I still have incredible curiosity about the world, and about people, and working with different directors and writers. It really is a blessing to have a chance to work with great minds and to stretch my own intellect and my own view of the world, and in times, change my philosophies and change my ideas. I love being able to do that even in this particular stage of my life. Life always has twists and turns, and as we all know, the journey is extremely unpredictable. There are huge highs and huge lows, that’s the nature of existing in the world. I’m incredibly fortunate to have a found a partner with whom I have enormous synergy and love, and we’re raising our girls together with the boundaries, and the same ideas, and the same morals. For me, I get a lot of strength from my faith and my beliefs. I was raised with a strong faith. That’s always been very, very good to me. I also meditate. But I was raised by a father and a mother who had a very strong moral code and I try and live by that and pass it onto my girls. I really do believe that finding some sort of way in which you can say what’s right and what’s wrong, how to behave, to be compassionate, and finding what you want to contribute is particularly important. And trying to help my children, I have four children, find their way, because they are here to take care of others. My father was just an example of that. He would say ‘what are we here to do? We are here to contribute and take care of others.’ Through that, we find our own joy. Keeping it as simple as that is sometimes the way through for me.
What can women do to help each other, and what are their obstacles?
I’m in a place where I work for UN Women and I can visit places, I can fundraise, I can help be involved in trying to change laws, giving women who don’t have a voice, a voice, so that they have a platform to be heard, so they’re not scared. We do a lot of work in terms of violence against women and there’s a team of women who I work with at the UN who are incredibly dedicated, and they’re sort of the silent heroes really, doing the grassroots campaign work. I’m in a position to be able to tell female stories. I’m in a position to be able to employ women and give them flexi-hours because I feel they’re incredible to have work for you, because women are brilliant multi-taskers. We all travel, some of them have children, some of them don’t. But families and time are a huge part of it. If you can have flexi-hours you get your work done, but not necessarily sitting in an office 9 to 5. That’s a fabulous thing to be offered to do. So I really try to offer that. And for my female employees who have children, a long maternity leave, because I believe in that strength of bonding. If you can have that at the beginning of having a child, and have that time to bond, that’s how we contribute to the world as well. Professionally, I can also produce stories that I believe in, and primarily a lot of those are female-based stories. In something like the play I’m doing now, it’s written by a young female playwright, who’s not had anything produced on the West End before. So to be able to get behind her and do this for her is a huge joy for me. It was terrifying because we were all like, ‘oh my gosh, if it’s not received well, we all go down in flames.’ But also, telling of someone like a scientist such as Rosalind Franklin who existed in the 50s and really contributed to finding DNA in a big way, to have that story told is a wonderful thing for me to be able to do at this stage, because she’s not around to tell it. So I’m glad that I was given the opportunity to do that and will continue to look for stories like that.
You seem to have a real affinity with Omega and a strong relationship. Can you tell us about that?
Omega feels like family to me. I’ve known them now for a decade and the company is very tight, they have an enormous amount of integrity, they’re the loveliest people to work with and they’re very supportive of UN Women, which I’m goodwill ambassador for. So they’re very involved in women’s rights. This campaign, and the exhibit we just saw, so much of it is about showing that, even in the early 20th century when sometimes women weren’t encouraged to wear watches, they were still looking at females as an equal market, which I thought was really fascinating. It says a lot about their company. A lot of times, watches are for men, but Omega is very, very engaged in their female watch buyers. They want women to wear watches, not just because it’s elegant and functional, but because it’s in support of our lifestyle and wanting us to manage our time. That’s the basis of it. And knowing we have just as much desire for the technology and mechanics, just as much as males. I’m absolutely astounded, especially by some of the little tiny watches, and they said it’s so hard to make those small watches and to make them so technically proficient. They’re a wonderful, wonderful brand. They’re filled with integrity. I’m sure you’ve all met them frequently and know that.
Jacopo Raule/Getty Images for OMEGA
What are your personal preferences for watches?
I love it when watches can be worn as jewelry. Then I love sports watches, because I’m athletic. I like a watch that can give me a lot of data, I love a seconds hand, so I can tell how much time I’ve spent on certain things. I also love to meditate, so I use my watch for that. So I have many, many different reasons to have a watch. But I don’t think I have a favorite. I have said in the past, often I like wearing a very glamorous watch, but then I also love wearing a man’s watch. I love a leather band and a big face. I’ve always thought that’s very cool, especially with a t-shirt. So I have a wide taste.
Because time is often tight, how do you value the use of watches?
I use them all the time. I use them to be on time. We’re teaching our daughters to read time right now, and they both have watches, and they’re little. And primarily a lot of that is because they think that time, and being on time is a form of respect and good manners. That’s part of our job as parents to teach that. I think also because of the work ethic I was raised with. For my mother, time was very important. And then, because I started working at 14, that taught me that you couldn’t be 15 minutes late to a film set, you’d get in so much trouble. So I think having that work ethic at that young age and being so grateful to have the job, I was one of those people who would want to be early.
If you could pick a bag, a fragrance or a design object that is a symbol of timeless elegance, which would it be and why?
I move around. I fluctuate in terms of perfumes and bags and I don’t have one particular thing that is ‘this is all I want to do.’ I tend to make my own perfumes. I mix up oils. I don’t have them on today though because I forget to bring them. In the same way that I choose roles, I tend to be very spontaneous. I don’t think things out. I’m far more heart than head. So that means that sometimes you fall over when you’re far more about your heart than your head. You make far more mistakes usually but then when the highs are high, they are extraordinary.
If you could have one feature added to a watch, what would it be?
That it could talk to me.
What would it tell you?
How much longer I have before I have to be on time. I’m very punctual. Strangely enough, I’ve just worked with a director who’s very punctual. He says ‘if you’re 5 minutes late, that’s too late.’ I so appreciate punctuality. It’s such a great thing when people actually show up on time and run accordingly. It’s a breath of fresh air, because a lot of people are actually late. I always get panicked because I know there are certain places and cities where you just can’t predict traffic and all those sorts of things. But it’s interesting because my husband and I, when we drop our daughters at school, sometimes we were 5 or 10 minutes late dropping off Sonny, our youngest daughter, and she said ‘I don’t want to be late, I’m embarrassed.’ It was fantastic because it made me go ‘of course, what we do is teaching her’. So now we’re always 5 minutes early and she struts into school proudly. It’s just interesting that a 7 year old would have that anxiety about being late. If it wasn’t for any other reason than rushing your 7 year old out the door. I was good to be reminded by a 7 year old to be on time.
Jacopo Raule/Getty Images for OMEGA
If you could say something to the young Nicole, what would it be?
I’ve always said to choose love. Always be happy. My grandmother lived to 90. Her last words to me were ‘Be happy Nicky.’ And it’s the simplest thing. It can seem so far away and so difficult at times. Whenever I think of her little voice saying that to me, I go ‘that’s right,’ because ultimately, none of it matters. All the things that seem so difficult and so terrifying, or that I’m never going to come out of this dark hole, it
What do you do if you have one minute free during the day, one hour, and one day?
One minute I’ll daydream or mediate. I love just sitting quietly mediating. An hour free, it depends. I love getting down on the floor and playing with my kids. I read an article that says it’s so important to actually get down on their level and play with them for an hour a day. So I do that, and I love that. It brings back the child in me. A day? I love breakfast; it’s my favourite meal. So a long leisurely breakfast is just beautiful to me. Read the papers and go for a swim. If I was in Sydney, I love the beach. Even though I’m incredibly pale, I put on these terribly long unattractive rashies, and people laugh at me. My kids laugh at me. But that’s what I would do. I love swimming and I just love being with Keith and the girls. That’s it, it moves on. If I could have learned that much earlier, I think I would have saved myself a lot of tears.