The most touching scene in the film? When his character, Arthur Bishop, a former hitman, hands his magnificent IWC Aquatimer Automatic 2000 to the sculptural Gina alias Jessica Alba. A precaution, should he not survive his mission! If there is one Hollywood actor who gives his watches a hard time, it has to be The Stath. And he’s a repeat offender. Before the IWC, he put his Tag Heuer Monaco through the wringer in The Bank Job, followed by his Panerai Luminor Chrono Daylight in Transporter 2 and his Omega Speedmaster Professional in Transporter Refueled. He dished out the same tough love to his Richard Mille RM 011 Felipe Massa in Parker and didn’t spare his Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo in Expendables 2.
Precision! Also, a clean harmonious design and ingenious mechanisms. As a member of the British diving squad, I competed in the Commonwealth Games, the European Championships and all kinds of international meets, so I know what “performance” means! Diving competitions taught me to focus on an objective and not let myself be distracted by outside factors.
Behind every finely crafted watch there is an intellectual process, a challenge, and the desire to always set the bar higher.
I think it must have been a Seiko dive watch. I’ve always been a fan of so-called sport watches, in fact for years that was all I ever wore. You would never have seen me in a dress watch or the kind of watch you keep for special occasions. I prefer “extreme” watches: chronographs, pilot watches, watches designed for flight. There’s a technical side to these watches that I appreciate. I see them as more than watches; they’re tools that serve a purpose, in particular helping us make the right decisions.
Not a collector, no, although I do own a lot of watches. I don’t wear jewellery, neck chains, bracelets, rings, that sort of thing. But I love watches; to have on my wrist an object that represents human intelligence and creativity. Behind every finely crafted watch there is an intellectual process, a challenge, and the desire to always set the bar higher. This is precisely what I like about certain brands: the love of a job well done and the determination to never rest on their laurels. It blows me away to see all those tiny components, those incredibly complex parts put together by the craftsman’s hand. That level of dexterity never ceases to impress me.
No! Whenever I have too many, I let a couple go. Right now, I must have twenty-five watches at home.
A manual-wind Panerai.
That was a long time ago! [laughs]. You’re right, though. Anyone like me who thrives on competition is constantly looking for tools that will take you further, faster, higher. A precision watch is a way of confirming your performance. Wearing an expensive watch as a status symbol just doesn’t do it for me. It’s really the watch’s functions, what’s inside the case, that interests me.
My dad and I used to sell knock-off perfumes and jewellery on London street corners. I’d see guys driving by in big shiny Jaguars and Aston Martins, a fantastic watch on their wrist. I used to tell myself they were jerks, but deep down I envied them. When you get behind the wheel of a car like that, all you want is to enjoy it and be noticed. It’s only human. Why look down on success? Anyway, one day this chap comes up to me and says, “I’m looking for characters, real characters. Do you want to be in films?” Turned out it was Guy Ritchie. Thanks to him, I made my first film, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. I had no acting experience whatsover, but Guy didn’t care. Then Luc Besson spotted me and offered me a role in The Transporter. I signed the contract that same day. Fast and furious, you might say!