The primary aim of a movie is to entertain, to offer audiences an escape from the everyday and to transport us away from our own lives for a couple of hours. This is successful because film makers use scenery and props to create a realistic but different world. This is the story of how Hamilton became the Movie Brand, helping film makers create characters and new worlds.
In 1932, Hamilton watches first appeared on screen in ‘Shanghai Express’ starring Marlene Dietrich. It was a glittering debut that was just the start of Hamilton’s involvement in the world of cinema. It is a partnership that runs deep through Hamilton’s history and continues to inspire stylists and designers in the movie industry almost 90 years later.
In 1951, for historical accuracy, Hamilton was chosen as the watch to appear in the smash hit film ‘The Frogmen’ which focused on the work of a Navy Underwater Demolition Team. Hamilton had been the chief supplier of watches to the U.S. Military at the time the movie was set and had actually designed and produced submersible timepieces for the Navy.
It was another 10 years before a Hamilton watch would again appear in a movie but, again, it was a blockbuster. ‘Blue Hawaii’ starring Elvis Presley featured one of the superstar’s greatest hits and his character wore a Ventura. This was deemed to be appropriate styling for the era and for the character.
Since these two notable appearances, Hamilton watches have appeared in over 450 feature films from futuristic masterpieces to comedy capers, action blockbusters to inspirational biopics. The range of different genres underlines the versatility and range of the Hamilton collection which allows the correct watch to be chosen for the character.
Hamilton receives many more requests for watches to appear in a film than we approve. The way Hamilton chooses projects to work on today is much the same as it was in the beginning, by asking ‘Will the watch help to define the character?’ Hamilton’s involvement with the film makers is always a true collaboration. The costume is one of many crucial layers that help an actor and director build on the persona created by the screenwriter and the watch a character wears is a very personal choice they would have made. It has to be right.
Recent examples include Interstellar, a film set in an imagined future and in which time plays a critical role. Hamilton developed a unique watch for Murphy Cooper, one of the main characters played by Jessica Chastain who the audience meets as a child, an adult and an old woman as she fights to help her father – played by Matthew McConaughey – save the planet. The Khaki BeLOWZERO 1000m Auto appears on the wrist of the main character Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, in The Martian. Again set in the future, it is a tale of survival, endurance and ingenuity and this was the ideal watch to help him in his mission.
But it hasn’t always been a case of selecting a watch from a collection as you might in a shop or online. There have also been occasions on which Hamilton has been commissioned by a director or producer to create something special to fit the film.
One notable early example of this was in the 1968 classic ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ when director Stanley Kubrick approached Hamilton to create a set of futuristic clocks and watches to be used in the movie. Hamilton created timepieces that featured in fashion magazines at the time and became highly sought after. Unfortunately, at the time, the designs were too complex to produce and even those seen in the film are only prototypes. It was 40 years later that Hamilton finally found a way to produce the watch from the film and, fittingly, it was limited to 2,001 pieces.
From astronauts to pilots, explorers to crime fighters, superheroes to time travellers and ordinary people with extraordinary stories, Hamilton watches have been the choice of film makers for their characters for almost 70 years. Hamilton is proud to be known as the Movie Brand.