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, in light of Halloween, discover some of the most iconic thrillers and horrors to get you in the mood for spooky season.
While wearing a mask was one a novelty purely associated with the costumed camaraderie of Halloween, and not so much our daily lives, the holiday that you either love or hate returns once more this weekend, on All Hallows Eve. Once a marker of time in the liturgical year, dedicated to remembering those departed, staples from the horror-fuelled occasion return once more after a year of no treats, just pure tricking.
With an excuse to dress up – staggeringly consumer spending this Halloween season is expected to reach a record high of $10.1 billion in America according to a survey from the National Retail Federation – we’ve got you covered with a list of haunting horological treats from the diluted to the daring. Happy Halloweekend one and all.
Rear Window (1954)
“I wonder if it is ethical to watch a man with binoculars and a long-focus lens,” asks the protagonist Jeff, in Alfred Hitchcock’s eponymous Rear Window. Set in Greenwich Village in Lower Manhattan, the film through its entirety takes place in Jeff’s flat, watching his neighbours from the window, while recovering from a broken leg, confined to a wheelchair. With a penchant for people-watching to pass the time, Jeff believes he has witnessed a murder. On a stormy night – pathetic fallacy never gets old – Jeff hears a woman scream, and what follows is a series of unfortunate events, unravelling before his very binoculars.
An exposition into the curious nature of human voyeurism, Jeff, played by the American actor James Stewart who also stars in Hitchcock’s film noir thriller Vertigo (1958) can be seen, throughout his window sill surveillance sporting a Tissot. Revealed in one of the films climatic crescendos, Hitchcock gives the model a close-up, showing a steel case and brown leather bracelet and a minimalistic dial. While Reddit disciples have attempted to deduce the model, the mystery remains unsolved.
The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist, it’s the original OG horror film that you have to see at least one in your life, so why not do it for spooky szn? Perhaps you won’t find it as scary as audiences did in 1973, so much so that a handful of local authorities, bowing to the pressure of uproar, banned the film in certain areas in the UK. “Therefore, at the beginning of 1988, the video was removed from the shelves (after nearly seven years of free availability) and was to remain unavailable for 11 years,” shares the British Film Institute. “Despite the prohibition on the video version, the film continued to play occasionally in cinemas, its existing X certificate being replaced by a new 18 certificate – for cinema release only – in 1991.” So what makes for such apocalyptic viewing? Essentially, you’re going to get two hours and twelve minutes of watching a young girl named Regan behaving pretty oddly after playing with an Ouija board, and along come two priests to exonerate the demonic entity from Regan’s body.
It’s not all X-rated vomit and swear words though. If you’re starting to feel the fear, watch out for the Heuer Autavia 2446 on Dr. Barringer, when attempting to give a scientific explanation to explain the behavior of Regan. Taking its name from a combination of its target markets – AUTomotive and AVIAtion – the Autavia wristwatch was in 196, the first new model launched under the guidance of the company’s then CEO, Jack Heuer. It was produced alongside the popular Carrera and remained in production until the end of the Heuer brand in 1985. The OG Autavia was a dashboard timer fitted into Jack Heuer’s rally cars, but eventually transformed into the wristwatch.
Men in Black
If thrill and fear isn’t your thing and you find yourself hiding under blankets instead, then Men in Black makes for some easy yet thematic watching this weekend. If you’re not familiar with the film saga, then it’s likely you’ve at least bopped along to the infamous song before. Released in 1997, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, MIB is a science-fiction-slash-action-comedy based loosely on the comic book series created by Lowell Cunningham and Sandy Carruthers. Acting as two secret agents of an organization called the Men in Black (who’d have guessed it?) the duo supervise extraterrestrial lifeforms that have landed on Earth, hiding from society. Policing the aliens and protecting the world from threat, Agents K and J uncover a deadly alien plot by an intergalactic arsonist who is on a mission to assassinate two ambassadors from opposing galaxies currently in residence in New York City.
To fight otherworldly powers, means a plethora of unique gadgets to get by, which includes no other than a Hamilton watch in the lineup, sporting the futuristic Ventura model – a hallmark watch across the entire franchise – regarded for its daring and unconventional design. It’s not often you see a triangular watch, but since its inception in 1957, and the influence of Elvis Presley who donned a Hamilton Ventura, oftentimes regarded as the ‘Elvis Watch’ today, it remains to be an influential timepiece. Partly down to the fact that Hamilton, the creators, became one of the first brands to develop a watch powered by a battery rather than by a conventional mainspring.
If you didn’t know the MIB song, then perhaps you’ll know who to call when there’s something strange in the neighbourhood? Grossing a staggering 295.2 million USD at the box office following its release in 1984, Ghostbusters promised an eerie comedy that became a cult classic in the 1980’s. Meeting a group of parapsychologists studying the paranormal world at Columbia University, the narrative soon unfolds after they lose their positions. Instead, they take to the streets of New York to do exactly as it says on the tin and bust some ghosts, in order to make money. In the process, they stumble unexpectedly into another dimension that will, in turn, bring evil into the world, meaning a countdown to save the world from complete destruction.
If there’s going to be a countdown, someone needs to have a good watch. The Seiko Voice Note M516-4009 to be exact. First launched a year before the film’s release in 1983, the Voice Note function was a seminal move in watchmaking and gives Siri a run for their money with the ability to record messages of either four or eight seconds long by speaking directly into the microphone. That’s exactly enough time to say “is this thing working?” Apt for its cinematic debut, the hybrid of carbon-fire and stainless steel makes for a more avant-garde offering when it comes to slaying the extraterrestrial, one voice note at a time.