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Movies: Watchmaking’s eight headline acts on the film scene
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Movies: Watchmaking’s eight headline acts on the film scene

Tuesday, 19 January 2016
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Marie de Pimodan-Bugnon
Freelance journalist

“One must be absolutely modern.”

Arthur Rimbaud

It takes passion, a healthy dose of curiosity and a sense of wonderment to convey the innumerable facets of watchmaking…

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6 min read

Adorning stars gliding up festival steps is no longer enough. Watchmakers now expect to see their name in lights. A look at the winners’ list in this game of active support for cinema: and the prizes go to…

Chopard with “The Gold Rush”

Festival directors change and jury presidents succeed each other with each new season; film luminaries in their glittering dresses grow steadily older as younger ones in turn make their own glamorous appearances on the red carpet. Cannes, its stars, its films, its scandals… And a name that has been firmly topping the billing since 1998: Chopard. In a little under 20 years, the brand has become the inescapable partner of the Cannes International Film Festival. The love story began with a new Palme d’or entirely redesigned by Chopard’s co-president and artistic director Caroline Scheufele at the request of Pierre Viot, festival President at that time. Ever since, Chopard and the annual two-week extravaganza in Cannes have been weaving ever closer ties. The Swiss firm is not merely an official festival Partner; it is truly ubiquitous. In the hands of the award winners receiving the precious Palme and its mini-replicas crafted in the company workshops; on the Chopard Rooftop of the Martinez Hotel that sees the film industry’s finest flitting in and out almost around the clock; at the Gold night, one of the hottest tickets during the festival; adorning celebrity wrists and necks on the red carpet; and of course at the Chopard Trophy award ceremony annually honouring two promising young talents. The Geneva-based watchmaker-jeweller created this prize in 2001 as a means of contributing to the event’s artistic reach. An excellent means of affirming its support for cinematographic creation as well as its legitimacy in this field.

Glashütte Original with “The Bear”

Five years of collaboration between Glashütte Original and the Berlinale enable the Manufacture to shine in the media spotlight for ten days each February. Along with Venice and Cannes, the Berlin film festival is one of the major international film events. Along with highlights such as the handing out of the top prizes (The Golden Bear, the Silver Bear and the Grand Prix), Glashütte Original also presents its own special distinction. In partnership with the Perspective Deutsches Kino, it awards a 15,000-euro grant intended to help a young German filmmaker in developing his or her project.

Storytelling is an essential element profoundly rooted in all that we do.
Georges Kern
IWC Schaffhausen with “The World Is Not Enough”

IWC enjoys a prime position among the most watchmakers most actively committed to the film industry. From New York to Zurich through London, Dubai, Beijing – and as of last year Singapore and Angoulême too – the brand pops up around the globe in its capacity as official Festival-Time Partner. Alongside the inevitable glittering side of this commitment, it clearly involves nurturing future talents – witness the IWC Filmmaker Award which finally supports up-and-coming filmmakers. “I am delighted to encourage promising young talents in the film industry”, explains IWC’s CEO, Georges Kern. “Storytelling is an essential element profoundly rooted in all that we do, as is excellence in terms of technical accomplishments – two aspects that are also inseparable from great cinema.”

Jaeger-LeCoultre with “The Lion King”

The Grande Maison has been enjoying the lion’s share in the realm of film event sponsorship for 10 years. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s first ties with this domain were woven with the world’s oldest film festival, the Mostra in Venice. “This partnership made us aware of the natural affinities that a Manufacture such as ours can enjoy with the world of cinema and film-making”, explains Isabelle Gervais, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s International PR Director responsible for partnerships. “We are each inventors in our respective fields.” Over the years, the watch firm has clearly reinforced its red carpet strategy and now officially supports events in Toronto, Los Angeles, New York and San Sebastian. However, far from being confined to the spotlights and the glitter, the commitment goes well beyond a purely marketing-driven operation. For each of the past three years, Jaeger-LeCoultre has been supporting an artist in residence for six weeks in New York, in partnership with the Film Society of the Lincoln Center. The brand also awards a prize to a film director in Los Angeles and Shanghai – and in the latter city has contributed to the restoration of historical films. As Isabelle Gervais points out: “We don’t just launch into multiple initiatives for the sake of it. The idea is to provide concrete support to the film industry as a whole.”

In partnership with Piaget, the ultra-glamorous Film Independent Spirit Awards rewards the best Indie films of the year.
Piaget and Chaumet with “Les Uns et les autres”

Alongside festivals, movie theatres, red carpets and gala dinners, there are of course a whole host of premiere screenings and award ceremonies along with other film industry red-letter nights. The latter include the French “Soirée des révélations des Césars”, presented for the past 11 years by Chaumet, as official partner of the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma.

Mention should also be made of the ultra-glamorous Film Independent Spirit Awards which, as its name implies, rewards the best Indie films of the year, in partnership with Piaget.

Rolex with “The Mentor”

Mentors, their protégés, and Rolex to nurture their relationship. Among the various forms of art supported by the brand with the crown logo in its artistic mentoring initiative launched in 2002, Rolex has naturally not forgotten the “seventh art”. The principle is simple: pairing great masters of their discipline with promising young artists for a year of creative collaboration. After Martin Scorcese, Stephen Frears, Mira Nair and Zhang Yimou, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu in turn agreed to become a mentor in 2015. The concept is very similar to the tradition of skill-sharing practiced in watchmaking: it is all about accompanying the next generation and passing on knowledge.

Swatch with “Return of the Jedi”

At the turn of the century, Swatch had briefly supported the Locarno Film Festival and the watch group once again signed a partnership with this historical festival in 2015. The avowed goal is to strengthen its involvement in the promotion of new film talents. The watchmaker awarded the Swatch First Feature Award – a trophy duly backed by prize money – to a young director. The jury also granted a special mention in the form of an invitation to Shanghai for an artist’s residence at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel. In parallel, Swatch contributes to organising the Locarno Summer Academy that enables young people from around the world to take part in various programs relating to the art of filmmaking.

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