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This is WATCH THE WATCH, a new series uncovering the most iconic watches seen on screen. From cult classics to new releases, we uncover the cinematic presence behind the cameras. In this week’s edition, we uncover the on-screen tribute to leading brands featuring TAG Heuer, IWC and Rolex in Christopher Nolan’s coveted Inception.

It was the week that marked the new dawn for Christopher Nolan. Following the end of an era between the internationally acclaimed director and Warner Brothers, which saw the creation of The Dark Knight trilogy, Dunkirk, and Inception come to life, Nolan has now set the tone for what he expects in his future work. Moving away  from the long-time collaborators their plans to release their 2021 film slate on streaming service HBO Max, instead, Nolan will debut his next cinematic offering with Universal. 

According to Deadline, the new film will begin production in early 2022, with Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy said to be joining the cast. In this fresh move, Nolan has “asked for total creative control, 20 percent of first-dollar gross, and a blackout period from the studio wherein the company would not release another movie three weeks before or three weeks after his release,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

While his jumping ship sends seismic waves through the industry, as Nolan campaigns to preserve big screen releases that films deserve, we look back on the stellar provocation of Inception that shook critics and viewers alike back in 2010. 

Screengrab courtesy of Warner Bros.

Riddled with rhetorical questions, Inception follows the journey of one of Hollywood’s greats, Leonardo DiCaprio as a professional thief. But not your average kind. Playing the role of corporate espionage, Dom Cobb, DiCaprio intercepts his ways into people’s subconscious using experimental machinery and extract information from their dreams. 

The fantasy heist, illustrating the illusory mazes in our mind, we’re guided by the unreliable narration of the criminal Cobb, never entirely convinced if we’re in the dream state, or reality. A star-studded cast sees Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Elliot Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Cillian Murphy join the lucid commentary on what a communal dream space would look like. 

Leading the sci-fi frontier, DiCaprio’s protagonist character has made him somewhat of a figurehead, but in doing so, he has sacrificed his loved ones. Teasing out the overarching them of redemption, Cobb is set on an impossible task: to plant an idea in someone’s mind. 

Screengrab courtesy of Warner Bros.

Alongside Nolan’s trademark for non-linear storytelling, comes a reputation for his attention to detail. This manifests in the film in a diverse collection of timepieces that neatly reflect each personality. DiCaprio’ character, Cobb, – befittingly as a brand ambassador – can be seen wearing a TAG Heuer Carrera Automatic with a black dial, one of the House’s most iconic creations. Paired with a steel case, steel bracelet and black dial. The watch has a Calibre 5 automatic movement, date window at 3 o’clock and luminous, diamond shaped hands.

Staging a subtle juxtapostion between wearer and object, Cobb’s life is immersed in chaos, while an uncluttered, functional watch with minimalist elegance sits on is wrist, emblematic of the life he has left behind and craves to return to so desperately.  

Screengrab courtesy of Warner Bros.

Playing the role of Cobb’s accomplice Arthur, Joseph Gordon-Levitt can be spotted wearing an IWC Schaffhausen Pilot’s watch. With the first Pilot’s watch created in 1936, the aviation line has earned a place in the horological world, inspired by cockpit instruments. The Mark XVI model, protected on both sides by convex sapphire crystals with antireflective coatings that Gordon-Levitt can be seen sporting in the film is reportedly manufactured to celebrate a special partnership with the British army, boasting outstanding resistance to magnetism, air and water pressure, fit to survive the extremities in the dream world. 

Next up is Saito, played by Ken Watanabe, who arranges the unthinkable challenge for Cobb, to implant an idea in a person’s subconscious in return promising to clear Cobb’s criminal status, preventing him from returning home to his children. A powerful and affluent businessman, Watanabe can be seen wearing a coveted Rolex Submariner 116613LN featuring a unidirectional rotatable bezel and solid-link Oyster bracelet, boasting robust and functional design that swiftly become iconic.



Scarlett is a writer, editor, and creative consultant specializing in art, fashion, culture and digital strategy. Drawing on her work from previous titles including Dazed, LOVE Magazine, The Perfect Magazine, AnOther and 1 Granary, as the Editor-in-Chief of The Next Hour, Scarlett is leading the editorial vision toward new territories providing an alternative lens of social commentary to recontextualize the world of watchmaking for the next generation.