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 inspired signature models in Wes Anderson animated classic, Fantastic Mr. Fox.
A Wes Anderson film promises three things: understated deadpan, layers of fantasy and political force. From the titular classics, The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) to The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Anderson’s cinematography elicits a space of wonderland, where wit and curiosity collide with niche and often enigmatic storylines.
In anticipation of Anderson’s latest serving, The French Dispatch, a sonorous display of on-screen experimentation and visual delight, The Next Hour reflects on the animated classic, Fantastic Mr. Fox, for its discernable array of timepieces on his fictional live-action subjects. Based on the 1970’s novel by Roald Dahl, Anderson pitches an enamored childhood tale into a quirky revolt reflecting the zeitgeist, imbuing the film with juvenile charm and wry wit.
Following 12 years of idyllic bliss with his wife, played by Meryl Streep, the leading protagonist Mr. Fox, (George Clooney), returns to his raiding habits, stealing from farms of their human neighbours and endangering the lives of the family when discovered. As the film follows the craftiness of Mr. Fox and his family as they escape underground to hide from their fate, the group later encounters Badger and many other local animal residents whose homes have also been destroyed by the farmers. Fearing starvation, Mr. Fox later leads them on a digging expedition to tunnel to the three farms, robbing them. Narrating the dispute between animal and human life, the story unfolds following ambush and restoration as both species learn to live alongside one another peacefully.
Renowned for his attention to detail, Anderson’s stop-motion figures can be seen sporting fictional remodelled timepieces based on hallmark classics. For Fantastic Mr. Fox himself, a paragon of unreliability throughout the film can be seen wearing a much more reliable Vintage Seiko Calculator watch, to assist his estimations to pull off stunts. Meanwhile, the mole played by James Hamilton opts for a louder statement sporting a Chesterton Perpetual Watch, mimicking Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual. “Gentleman, synchronize your watches,” declares Mr. Fox ahead of hatching a plan with his cohort of animals. Aligning the accuracy of their timepieces, the field mouse tactfully dons a Field Watch.
The level of detail in Anderson’s animation depicts an array of quartz models, and a tribute to his on-screen portrayal of fine watchmaking, from Owen Wilson’s Rolex GMT-Master II Green Hand in The Darjeeling Limited, to the collection of 1970s diving watches in The Life Aquatic. Between the savant quirks, rectangular compositions and snap-zooms that are so intrinsic to Anderson’s identity, it is the underpinning subtleties of minutiae that flickers onto the screen for mere seconds that situates Anderson’s prodigies as inviting, intimate portrayals into the reality of life.