This is WATCH THE WATCH, a series uncovering the most iconic watches seen on screen. From cult classics to new releases, we explore the cinematic presence behind the cameras. In this week’s edition, we look to the Christmas classic, Home Alone in the spirit of the holiday season.
Once a year, a bright-eyed, blonde-haired Macauley Culkin makes his way onto our screens, gifting us with the eternal line “keep the change, you filthy animal.” A stalwart for the holiday season, Home Alone, which made its debut as a yuletide classic in 1990 recorded a staggering $281 million, at the time the third-largest grossing in history. Despite its blockbuster status, universally regarded as a must-watch in the lead up to Christmas, the American comedy film directed by Chris Columbus and written by John Hughes faced rejection over budget from the major film conglomerate Warner Bros. before being scooped up by 20th Century Fox. Ooops Warner Brothers?
If you’re one of the few who have slipped through the cracks, unscathed by the flapping of the McCalister family and, quite frankly, you have no idea what we’re talking about, then listen in. The enduring popularity of the holiday homage follows the story of a distressed family, panic packing on the eve before a family trip to Paris. Causing upset over the dinner table over spilt milk, literally, 8-year-old Kevin is sent up to the attic to sleep alone as penance for his behavior by none other than his mother and the Queen of Schitt’s Creek, Catherine O’Hora. After the McCallisters mistakenly leave for the airport without Kevin, he awakens to an empty house and assumes his wish made the night before to have no family has come true. But his excitement soon sours when he realizes that two con men (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern) plan to rob the McCallister residence, and that he alone must protect the family home.
Written by John Hughes in just nine days, after a bout of traveler’s anxiety, the narrative follows Hughes’ own fear of leaving his children behind. ‘’I was going away on vacation,’’ he shares with ‘’and making a list of everything I didn’t want to forget. I thought, ‘Well, I’d better not forget my kids.’ Then I thought, ‘What if I left my 10-year-old son at home? What would he do?’
He’d do what all kids would do: enjoy the freedoms tenfold. Ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner, have the TV on loud and all day long, stay up light. But for Kevin McCallister, it’s about saving his family home from the Wet Bandits, a pair of farcical burglars who fall into the traps laid out by Kevin.
Upon the tardy realization that she’s one son short on the plane, O’Hara’s screams the infamous ‘KEVIN’ line before trekking across airports to find her way home during the heights of the busiest flying season. In comes the real star of the show. Proving time again the currency of Rolex on film – nods to Rain Man (1988) – O’Hara said she would sell her soul to the devil to get a seat on an airplane to get home. Offering up her jewellery and her two-tone Datejust to an elderly couple for their seats at Paris airport, before its authenticity is questioned.
The Datejust debuted in 1945 as the reference 4467, the first automatic watch with a date, crafted entirely of 18K yellow gold, and in fact did not display the word “Datejust” on its dial. It was the first self-winding waterproof chronometer wristwatch to display the date in a window at 3 o’clock on the dial, and consolidated all the major innovations that Rolex had contributed to the modern wristwatch until then. Featured on O’Hara’s wrist in the film, a two-tone iteration can be seen on screen, often dubbed as the marmite feature of the watch world. You either love it or hate it.
Two-tone of course, in Rolex world, refers to the use of both gold and steel on one watch and the name ‘Rolesor,’ the hybrid of the two, was trademarked in 1933. Merging gold and stainless steel, the metallic union is often considered indecisive – which seems relatively apt for Kate McCallister hectic decision-making – this polarising debate is one of the horological world’s most disputed topics. The bi-metal treatment also harnessed a large following in corporate office circles in the 1970’s to 1980’s, garnering a reputation amongst men as a product of their time, as opposed to timeless. Think Patrick Bateman in his skyscraper office making deals in American Psycho (2000).
While the reluctance around mixing metals and the cultural boom of the two-tone might be regarded as a moment in time reflecting the zeitgeist’s desires, Home Alone doubles up as a product of it’s time and a timeless endeavor – landlines, no mobile phones, actually having to communicate vis a vis with humans – it continues to carve a space into the future, serving nostalgia and reminding us all of the fruitful whims of childhood.