Throughout history, watchmakers have been trying to control and regulate time, while the art of film focuses on capturing moments in time. In both of these art forms, the highest achievements become timeless classics.
Watches are one of the ways that men and women can showcase their style and taste, so it makes sense that Hollywood uses them on the wrists of stars to delineate their characters. There have been many Hamilton success stories in the world of watches and entertainment and today, more and more people are paying attention to what watches are on the wrists of their favorite stars.
There is little doubt about the impact of movies and TV shows on popular culture. Trends are created and destroyed, based on what is popular on the silver screen and on TV.
T-shirts, surprisingly, can show us the impact movies can have on consumer behavior. In the 1934 film It Happened One Night, Clark Gable took off his dress shirt to reveal his bare chest, no undershirt. Well, men all around the world wanted to be like Gable and stopped buying undershirts. Sales plummeted.
Then, 17 years later, Marlon Brando appeared in A Streetcar Named Desire as Stanley Kowalski in a tight t-shirt and made undershirt sales hot again. Order was restored.
Hamilton has had some of the highest profile uses of watches in movies and TV shows where customers have gone into watch stores without even knowing what make or model of watch it is, just asking for “the (insert title here) watch.”
Revolution USA reached out to several Hamilton retailers to learn about their experiences and their perception of the impact of Hamilton’s movie and TV experiences on brand awareness and actual sales.
Rob Caplan, Topper Jewelers (Burlingame, CA)
I think that Hamilton’s entertainment industry history is really important. I believe that cinema is the greatest and most powerful form of art in the modern world, and has an immeasurable impact on our culture. Watches are just as much about emotional connection with the wearer as they are about being functional devices. Having them presented in the most powerful art form, and often in ways that impact the storytelling, has tremendous value, as they can help add to the story, and also provide extra layers of meaning when they are for sale in the actual world. As a retailer we want to sell things that are of impact, and the connection to cinema gives the watches much more impact.
While Hamilton has been involved in countless projects over the years, the two most successful examples are Men in Black and Interstellar.
People love the tone of Men in Black and a huge part of it was the attitude and the gear of the characters. Tommy Lee Jones practically defined dry wit in that movie, as he played a character that was both futuristic and reminded you of G-Men from the 1950s with his gear being an extension of his character. The Ventura watch that was worn in the movie was perfect for his character, as it was both sleek and futuristic, yet had design cues from the 1950s. People often come into our store wanting to wear the watch that was part of the MIB gear.
Interstellar is another example of watchmaking and storytelling coming together. There were two watches in that movie that were prominently featured. One was worn by the main character, Cooper, played by Matthew McConaughey, which people in our dimension could actually buy, and one was used to signal the time jumps in the movie and represented the relationship between father and daughter, as he gave it to his daughter, Murph, early on in the film. The “Murph watch” was a one-off that you couldn’t originally buy, as Hamilton specially crafted it for the film as no watch in their collection had the exact look that the film creators wanted. The “Cooper watch” was a huge hit at the time of the film and people often come in asking for it. Hamilton introduced the Khaki Murph watch as part of their collection this year to great acclaim.
Movies provide impactful and meaningful moments in culture, and by designing watches for special movies, Hamilton injects itself into the heart of our culture.
My favorite Hamilton appearance would have to be the original Men in Black. For two reasons: I think it was the best use of a watch for the tone of the film, and it was my favorite movie that Hamilton has participated in so far.
My favorite Hamilton watch is actually one of the new releases: the panda dial Intra-Matic Auto Chrono. It’s got a great design, is great value, and is a great size. It’s hard to think of another $2,000 chronograph that is made as well as this one.
I like that Hamilton watches are manufactured in Switzerland to a high standard, and have specific collections that really flesh out and develop a theme. Some of my favorite watches are their Pilot and Field watches. When you look at watches, like the Khaki Field Mechanical that is $475, it can still be appreciated by someone who has 50 watches and wants to explore a vintage military theme without the headaches that go with owning actual vintage watches, or by someone who has saved up for their first watch. The watch itself is a great bang for the buck and there is an intriguing and authentic history behind the brand.
Scott J. Meller, President, Feldmar Watch Company (Los Angeles, CA)
Hamilton as a watchmaker alone has a fantastic history which is more than enough to solidify their position within the Swiss watch industry, however their long history of being featured in film adds another valuable dimension.
We regularly receive inquiries from clients requesting the Men in Black or Interstellar models. After appearing in these blockbuster films, models take on an additional life with nicknames associated with the film. They achieve a level of recognition comparable to some Rolex models with nicknames like “Batman” or “Hulk.”
Mentioning Hamilton’s history in movies adds a dimension that resonates with some clients, and film is a huge part of culture around the world. This is especially true in emerging markets as video becomes more and more accessible via the internet.
In my opinion, the Hamilton Ventura featured in Men in Black is the most significant movie appearance for Hamilton. It propelled that model to new levels of recognition and popularity never before experienced by Hamilton.
I am not sure I have a favorite Hamilton watch as there are so many wonderful Hamilton models from over the many years Hamilton has been producing timepieces. As we feature an after-sales service department, we see many vintage Hamilton models come through our doors and each one is wonderful and special in its own way.
Today, Hamilton offers a high-quality timepiece with exceptional design deeply rooted in its corporate history and DNA, all for an unbelievable value. What more could you ask for when purchasing a fine timepiece?
Ryan Miller, Brent L. Miller Jewelers & Goldsmiths (Lancaster, PA)
Hamilton’s long history in the movies is vital to the brand. It reminds consumers how important Hamilton is in the watch world and how long they have held this place in history and pop culture.
We often get customers in looking for a particular watch from one of Hamilton’s movies. Most frequently they are looking for the Interstellar watch. Last year we had a customer that specifically wanted to get a watch like Murph’s for his daughter, and the watch Cooper wore for himself. Now, Hamilton has made the Murph watch, which is great and has been a huge hit.
I most often tell the story of Elvis wearing the Ventura in Blue Hawaii, and though the watch was part of his costume in the movie, it became his favorite watch and he was photographed wearing it for many years after the movie.
Young people who don’t know the history of the Ventura call it the “Men in Black watch.” I received a Hamilton Ventura as a high school graduation gift from my dad in 2001, and everyone still calls it the MIB watch.
From there, the watches in Interstellar, The Martian, Jack Ryan and others have been getting a lot of attention.
My favorite Hamilton cameo is in Casino Royale (2006), where Felix (the American CIA agent) wears a Hamilton Khaki X-Wind. I love that the American guy is wearing a Hamilton. James Bond movies have so much style influence, and Omega gets so much attention in that movie, the subtlety of the Hamilton appearance makes that my favorite.
I think the old marine chronometers are the coolest clocks ever, in my opinion, but I’ll pick a modern watch that is my favorite in the collection today. The Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical is just so special. The military history of the watch is incredible, and the design is so simple, clean, and like the original. It’s a watch that transcends price because the history is so powerful and the design is so classic. The fact that it’s a manual wind gives it a nod to the old school that I really appreciate.
I’m passionate about the history of Hamilton. I live three blocks from the original factory in downtown Lancaster, and our store is only a little bit farther away, so I frequently imagine what it used to be like. We hear details about the way the factory ran, like they had their own oil refinery, and they had a bakery that made dough every day, because the watchmakers used it to pick up and handle tiny watch parts. Today’s Hamilton really does honor the heritage of the brand with beautiful designs closely inspired by the original watches that were designed here in Lancaster, PA.
In addition to my passion for the history of Hamilton, the value proposition Hamilton offers really is something special. An 80-hour power reserve automatic movement with an open case back, sapphire crystal, with Hamilton’s build quality, for well under $1,000 on many watches is something special. Hamilton is one of the brands that transcends price. I think a Hamilton makes its owner feel special, whether it is their wedding day or a day in the office.