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Jaeger-LeCoultre, in love with film
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Jaeger-LeCoultre, in love with film

Monday, 07 September 2015
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Christophe Roulet
Editor-in-chief, HH Journal

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4 min read

The 72nd Venice International Film Festival, and the presentation of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker award to Brian de Palma, is the chance to look back at the longstanding ties between the watchmaker and the silver screen.

The battle for product placement has seen watchmakers jostling for screen space, always ready for their close-up, Mr DeMille. The natural consequence of this big-screen invasion has been brands’ eagerness to welcome high-profile actors into their fold as a means of occupying media terrain. Daniel Craig aka James Bond took a tour of the Omega workshops this summer, where he saw the watch he wears in the latest 007 adventure, released this autumn, being assembled. When at end 2014 IWC launched a new line of women’s models in its Portofino collection, it called on Peter Lindbergh to deliver a slick staging of its products worn by Cate Blanchett, Emily Blunt, Zhou Xun, Ewan McGregor and Christoph Waltz, against the backdrop of the picturesque Italian fishing village. A dedicated follower of Panerai – which incidentally kitted out the entire Expendables 2 crew with a Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo 47 mm – Sylvester Stallone was nonetheless unable to resist a fling with Richard Mille in the sequel. Last year, Hugh “Wolverine” Jackman became the global face of Montblanc watches, which he currently sports in a major airport advertising campaign.

The Chaplins' legacy

As these and the many other possible examples show, watchmakers and film stars are more than just good friends. But for Jaeger-LeCoultre, the relationship runs deeper still as Chief Executive Daniel Riedo observes: “Haute Horlogerie and cinema share common values: both create dreams and a sense of wonder through aesthetic and technical mastery. Jaeger-LeCoultre draws upon the talent of its many artisans to create exceptional watch objects, just as it takes talented writers, directors, actors and technicians to produce a work of filmmaking art. It is all about two worlds infused with creative ingenuity.” Yes, actors such as Diane Kruger, Clive Owen, Sarah Gadon or Zao Wei do play a leading role in the brand’s history, but the crux of the message lies in the intimacy the brand seeks to develop with this world of imagination.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso "Glory to the filmmaker" 2015

This now protean bond has grown from the day in 1953 when the Canton of Vaud welcomed Sir Charles Chaplin to Switzerland, and the shores of Lake Geneva, with the gift of a Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox which has been passed down through the family. “La Grande Maison” now honours this legacy through Carmen Chaplin, the British actor, filmmaker and Sir Charles’ granddaughter, who can be seen in its latest promotional campaign, Open A Whole New World. She also went behind the camera to direct A Time For Everything, a reflection on time that opens with the treasured Memovox. Charlie Chaplin is celebrated at another prestigious event to which Jaeger-LeCoultre is the official partner, namely the annual Chaplin Award Gala which is hosted by the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York. The actor came out of exile and travelled to the United States to collect his award when he was the first person to be honoured, in 1972. This year’s winner is Robert Redford. The Film Society and Jaeger-LeCoultre are also partners to the Film Society’s Filmmaker in Residence programme, which provides space and time to develop new work within the New York film community. This year’s awardee is Athina Rachel Tsangari whose feature, Chevalier, premiered at the Locarno International Film Festival in August.

Across the continents

Festivals are a prominent aspect of the brand’s commitment to film, as the partner to events in New York, Toronto, Los Angeles, San Sebastián and Shanghai, where it also hosts a gala evening and charity auction to help finance film production in China, and funds the restoration of classic Chinese films.

My only enemy is time.
Charlie Chaplin

Among these many associations, perhaps one of the most prestigious is with the Venice Mostra whose 72nd edition runs September 2nd to 12th. It sees Brian de Palma receive the Glory to the Filmmaker award, jointly presented by Jaeger-LeCoultre and the Venice International Film Festival. Prior to de Palma, James Franco, Spike Lee, Al Pacino, Mani Ratnam and Sylvester Stallone have each been distinguished for their contribution to the development of contemporary film. The watchmaker has also fallen for the legendary city itself and has become a patron to the restoration of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, home to works by Tintoretto. Returning to cinema, unlike Charlie Chaplin who would claim that “my only enemy is time”, Jaeger-LeCoultre has made time its greatest ally.

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