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Kate Winslet talks time
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Kate Winslet talks time

Tuesday, 31 October 2017
By Frank Rousseau
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Frank Rousseau

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4 min read

A Longines ambassador, Kate Winslet speaks about her own watches and some of the special moments associated with them.

Her youthful glow gives the impression that time has no hold on her. Even more surprising, perhaps, is how approachable she is, despite her countless awards (which include an Oscar, Golden Globes, an Emmy, a Grammy, Baftas and an honorary César). A Rose without thorns! And when the subject turns to watches, the British actress’s face lights up…

Twenty years ago, you found global acclaim in Titanic. How did family and friends react when you were cast in this now legendary role?

Before getting the part, I would call my mother thirty times a day. I needed a listening ear, or for her to tell me, “don’t worry darling, it’ll all be fine”. The day I heard I’d been chosen to play Rose, I was practically screaming down the phone to her, “Mum, mum, guess what? That’s it! I got the lead in Titanic!”. And you know what she said? “That’s fabulous darling, but I’m going to have to call you back, I’m in the middle of gardening”. [laughs].

In Woody Allen's Wonder Wheel, you play a woman who yearns for more in life. At one point in the film, she gives a beautiful gold pocket watch to her beau, played by Justin Timberlake. What about you? How do you relate to watches?

I’ve always liked watches, to begin with because it’s useful to have something that gives the time, but also because whenever you glance down at the dial, you’re reminded of the person who gave that watch to you, or of a special occasion. Asking how I feel about watches is especially relevant as I work with Longines, who invited me to visit their wonderful museum in Saint-Imier, in the Swiss Jura, where the brand has its headquarters. I learned so much during my visit. I had no idea, for example, that Longines exists since 1832 and that the first watches were actually made by farmers! It was absolutely fascinating. I also learned a great deal about how these timepieces are designed. It’s incredible to think that the vast majority of us are completely in the dark about the incredible expertise and the thousands of hours of research needed to produce a new watch, and what a painstaking process it is.

What kind of watch do you most appreciate?

I like old watches. I actually own a couple, though not enough to open my own museum! (laughs]. The one that means most to me was given to me by Eli Wallach [the actor, who played opposite Kate in Nancy Meyer’s The Holiday, and who died in 2014]. It was eight years ago, at dinner with Eli, his wife Anne [the actress Anne Jackson] and their daughter Katherine, a jeweller. Eli had an impressive collection of watches. He was very frail by then. I can still see him take my hand and say, “I have something for you. Something I’d like you to have”. It was a beautiful vintage watch on a delicately wrought bracelet. I treasure it, so much in fact that I keep it in a vault. In this instance, it’s not the monetary value that counts but the sentimental value. It’s irreplaceable.

Two years ago you were in Danny Boyle's biopic on Steve Jobs. So can I ask, what's your favourite smartphone app?

You’d be amazed how many people ask me that! As though the world revolved around smartphones. Well, my favourite app is “I’M A TECHNOPHOBE”. Theoretically, I should never have been in that film, considering how hopeless I am with these things. I can’t pick up a smartphone without dropping it. It’s as though someone just handed me a hot potato! And the minute something doesn’t work, I start to panic. The way these things “respond”, sometimes it feels like I’m holding a bomb that could go off at any second [laughs]. So, to answer your question, I use my phone to call people and I check the time on my watch. Every object has a function and should stick to it!

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