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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 and tales behind the timepieces behind the cameras. In this first edition, we uncover the signature models in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood starring Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Leonardo DiCaprio. 

You’ll know a Tarantino trademark when you see one. Between the glorified action, staple use of music, the whetted dialogue and of course, the on-screen cameo of the man himself, Tarantino’s aesthetic vibrancy has captured crowds since the release of his first film in 1992 with Reservoir Dogs. His latest offering and ninth film in his signature sequence saw the launch of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood  back in 2019.  Two years later, not only does the director go from auteur to author launching a novel version of the book in late June this year but the comedy drama makes its way onto the streaming giant we’re all to well acquainted with, joining Netflix this month. 

Set in the halcyon days of Hollywood’s golden age in the 1960’s, Tarantino’s prodigy is based on the infamous Manson murders, perpetrated in Los Angeles under the direction of Charles Manson. They murdered five people, including actress Sharon Tate and several of her guests. Blurring the lines of fiction and reality, imaginary characters rub shoulders with the notable Tate and husband, Roman Polanski in a warped biography that offers an alternative ending to the infamous murders. 

When Hollywood meets Horology

Following the faded journey of an actor, played by DiCaprio and his stunt double, Brad Pitt, at the helm of a diverging film industry, Tarantino pertains his notable insignia as a director, placing emphasis on the minutiae of detail. The paean approach to costume compliments the glamour of Hollywood, with Brad Pritt who plays the role of Cliff Booth, Rick Dalton’s stunt double and best friend. Renowned for creative definitive back stories for each of his characters, Tarantino staged Booth as a bachelor in his 40’s living in a trailer with his trusty dog, Brandy. A veteran of World War II and the Korean war, Booth’s elusive history if violence informs his enigmatic personality. 

The protagonist of the film, Booth is seen sporting a vintage gold Citizen 8110A Automatic Bullhead with a gold case and matching dial and three subdials on the side. Dubbed ‘bullhead,’ for the two buttons that perch prominently at the top of the watchface, the apt moniker is fitting with Booth’s bullish character and plucky spirit throughout the film. Made in Japan, the octagonal timepiece of stainless steel features both chronograph, tachymeter indicators and a day/date display.

 The first commercially available quartz watch was released in 1969, a development that led to the monumental quartz crisis. The ’70s saw quartz and traditionally manufactured, mechanical timepieces jostling for precious wrist space, with consumers generally preferring the (at the time) technological superiority of quartz watches.

A nod towards the quartz crisis

While the internet divulged into a controversial debate about the slight incongruity between the setting of the film in 1969 and the launch of the watch in 1972, Pitt’s watch was arguably an atypical model of the period, an automatic chronograph caliber, with the first quartz watch released in 1969. As the 70’s became notoriously known for the quartz crisis with traditional watchmakers competing against this new advancement. 

The terra cotta color palette of the decade is matched with Pitt’s wide brown leather cuff band, claimed by Red Monkey Straps who also produced the actor’s personal custom strap he also wore in Ocean’s 13.

Whether you’re a Tarantino fan or not, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood offers a languid approach to life in this decadent era, with bursts of melodrama to punctuate the leisurely narrative and rejoicing in the vanity of Hollywood in the history books. 

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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.