The making of a Masterpiece

Rolex and Cinema

Filmmakers and Rolex have the same aim – to make films and timepieces that have an everlasting quality.

When Marlon Brando played his legendary role as Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now he was wearing a Rolex watch. In The Color of Money, Paul Newman sported one as he manipulated a pool cue as Fast Eddie Felson. And in Titanic, Bill Paxton, as treasure hunter Brock Lovett, was wearing one as he descended to the infamous wreck in a submersible.

Worn by famous actors appearing in iconic films, Rolex watches have had their own part to play in Hollywood for decades. They still do, despite the fact that the company has never been involved in product placement. Instead, the watches are the choice of directors using the brand to subtly portray fortitude in their characters − a sense of toughness and control, along with a sophisticated sense of style. Even a glimpse of a Rolex watch makes a strong statement.

In 2017, Rolex entered a formal partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and also became Proud Sponsor of the Oscars®. The two organizations are united by a sense of history and share a mission to preserve and celebrate an everlasting work, whether a film or a wristwatch.

Capturing time

What does it take to make a masterpiece? For both endeavours, a masterpiece is a piece of work that captures a moment in time, unleashing raw emotion and inspiring people to see the world through a new lens. It is nothing less than a force for change, one that does not lose its power. As a celebration of humanity’s creativity, it stays relevant, no matter how many years have passed. But to achieve a masterpiece of timekeeping or a film classic demands more than just vision and a strong creative idea. It takes a team of technicians, engineers and craftspeople, each with a crucial role in a complex mechanism. In their pursuit of excellence, watchmakers and filmmakers instil precise detail at every level of their work.

Changing History

Rolex appreciates storytelling in film as it has its own great story to tell after more than a century of innovation. In 1926, the Rolex Oyster – a masterpiece of watchmaking as the world’s first waterproof wristwatch – helped change the course of history. For the first time, people could pursue new active lifestyles and go to remote places like the tops of mountains with a reliable, precise, robust watch.

The extraordinary level of innovation that Rolex has achieved – with more than 500 patents – and a succession of masterpieces in watchmaking such as the Submariner, which liberated people to dive to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet), was made possible by the quest for perpetual excellence. This is the force that drives Rolex whether it is creating the finest timepieces or supporting sport and the arts. It is also why Rolex has developed a partnership with the Academy, which is similarly driven by the pursuit of excellence.

Explore the gallery

  • 1945 - The birth of the Datejust, the archetype of a classic watch.
  • 1969 - The Datejust featuring the Cyclops lens, a Rolex innovation.
  • 1990 - The Datejust with a crystal made of virtually scratchproof sapphire.

Partners in recognizing excellence

Every year, the finest actors, filmmakers and technicians are presented for judgement by their peers at the Oscars®, one of the most widely anticipated events in the world. The Academy Awards® have an extremely serious purpose, the recognition of excellence.

Rolex became Exclusive Watch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2017 and sponsor of the Academy’s annual Governors Awards that honour life achievement in film the following year. For 2021, the primary venue for the Oscars® was changed to the Union Station Los Angeles, a historic landmark and one of the last great train stations in the United States.

Rolex Greenroom 2021

Since 2016, the company has designed and hosted the Greenroom, where presenters and special guests mingle before participating at the Oscars®. At Union Station Los Angeles, Rolex, which has hosted the Greenroom since 2016, has created an intimate setting under the vaulted ceiling of one of the station’s wings where guests can relax while respecting social distancing. Walls are adorned with fabric replicating the motif of Union Station, with a “green wall”, comprised entirely of foliage, bringing a touch of nature to the interior. A selection of photographs pays tribute to the creation of masterpieces, displaying emblematic watches and the making of unforgettable movies.

Founding Supporter of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

To assist in preserving film heritage for future generations, Rolex is a Founding Supporter of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, the hub for movie lovers has 50,000 square feet (4,650 square metres) of galleries – one hosted by Rolex exploring its own relationship with cinema – and the 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater, among other facilities. This museum, the pre-eminent film museum in the world, is designed to help people understand the arts and sciences that create movie magic.

Alongside special exhibitions exploring the work of leading filmmakers, visitors can trace the history of film from silent movies through to the modern era. And film nostalgia buffs can see movie memorabilia, from the doors of Rick’s Café Américain in Casablanca to a backdrop from Singin’ in the Rain, or a gallery showcasing stars like Marilyn Monroe from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

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