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 pay tribute to Benedict Cumberbatch’s humble Rotary watch in the coveted historical TV series, Sherlock.
The question on the agenda for this week: method acting, is it good or bad? You might’ve caught headlines this week that the British actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, went on an immersive journey for his latest film The Power of the Dog.
In case you missed it, Cumberbatch went so far as to make himself in throughout the process, in order to maintain character, a 1920s Montana rancher. The first iteration from the internationally acclaimed director, Jane Campion, in thirteen years, The Power of the Dog tells the story of a Western, whereby a domineering rancher taints and mocks his family with cruelty, until the unexpected comes to pass.
A cerebral, yet gritty homage to life on a farm in 20th century America, the film follows the narrative of psychological warfare, exposing Cumberbatch’s character to be a malevolent force throughout. To do so, Campion directed her cast to opt for the old school approach of Method acting, never breaking from character during set. For Cumberbatch, this meant smoking so much that he gave himself tobacco poisoning three times, he shares in conversation with Esquire. He didn’t just stop there either; embodying his character’s neglect for the female protagonist played by Kirsten Dunst, the two actors refused to speak to one another throughout the filming process to truly harbor the animosity and disgust of their on-screen counterparts. Not forgetting he didn’t shower for 6 days too.
Looking back over Cumberbatch’s career, he turned his acting status from a small fish in a big sea, to an enamored household name today with the role of Sherlock Holmes. In the BBC’s iteration, launch in 2010, Cumberbatch embraced Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s genius, yet unapologetic detective alongside Martin Freeman. As with each of his roles, Cumberbatch’s process of becoming is an intense and omnipotent one. “There is a kickback. I do get affected by it. There’s a sense of being impatient. My mum says I’m much curter with her when I’m filming Sherlock,” he shares in conversation.
If you’ve never graced your eyes over the eccentric biopic, Cumberbatch’s adaptation – bearing in mind there’s over a staggering 250 screen adaptations – follows the sleeves of Sherlock and his loyal friend, Doctor John Watson as they navigate the toils of London’s criminal underbelly. Set at 221b Baker Street, Steven Moffat says: “Conan Doyle’s stories were never about frock coats and gas light; they’re about brilliant detection, dreadful villains and blood-curdling crimes – and frankly, to hell with the crinoline. Other detectives have cases, Sherlock Holmes has adventures, and that’s what matters.”
While the greatest tool Sherlock carries with him is the sharpness of his own mind, deducing marital status with his senses, it doesn’t hurt to have a watch on his wrist, without having to rely on divine forces to tell the time. Conan Doyle’s Sherlock was fitted with a pocket watch and deerstalker hat, what befits the wrists of Cumberbatch’s renewal? A watch that typifies British excellence. But it wouldn’t be Sherlock’s watch if the road was so easily travelled. Beginning as a singular vision brand, Rotary was conceived by watchmaker Moise Dreyfuss in La Chaux de Fonds, in Switzerland. With a penchant for timeless elegance and enduring quality, Rotary made a voyage over to Britain in the early 20th century, where it remains to this day.
In ‘The Hounds of Baskerville,’ the second episode of Cumberbatch’s first season, Sherlock enters a secure military site, only to check his Rotary watch to gauge how much time he has left, sporting a Rotary Canterbury Gents Watch GS02424/21. While you might predict Sherlock to be a traditional man, thus sporting a mechanical watch, patience was never his strongest virtue, and the act of self-winding or monitoring the accuracy of a watch doesn’t seem close to Sherlock’s nature. Aptly donning a quartz watch therefore, offering greater accuracy and less maintenance, it suits the hero perfectly.
Decorated in a silver Clous de Paris dial – a special type of dial guilloche or embossing, resulting in small square knobs – with roman numerals and Breguet hands, it features a 38mm Stainless Steel case and has a black leather strap. The Clous de Paris dial adds contrasting texture to the intricate hands and Roman numerals hour markers ensure this timepiece will catch everyone’s attention. Sapphire glass and water resistant to 50m. Boasting the now famous Rotary logo, introduced in 1925 and after the war, under the leadership of Teddy Dreyfuss, the brand developed further, with innovative watches, sophisticated marketing and powerful advertising campaigns.
So how much would it set Sherlock back? Just shy of $150, which seems appropriate for the man who doesn’t succumb to extravagance, merely in speech. With Rotary watches sold in over 65 countries, its status on the watch stage remains humble, but respected, built with the exact purpose for Sherlock Holmes’ adventures, to withstand the rigors and testaments of everyday life.