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Robert Downey Jr, actor and watch collector
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Robert Downey Jr, actor and watch collector

Friday, 21 June 2019
By Frank Rousseau
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Frank Rousseau

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4 min read

Eleven years ago, the American superhero machine launched one of the most profitable movie franchises ever. Twenty-one films and $18.5 billion in box-office takings later, the Avengers are back for a monumental goodbye.

The clue is in the name: Endgame is the final episode in the Avengers saga starring Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Brie Larson (Captain Marvel), and it’s packed with megawatts, epic battles, stories within stories, and blockbuster special effects. We couldn’t bring the curtain down on the franchise without catching up with its most charismatic hero, the one and only Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr.
Tell us about the watch you're wearing. It's not the kind you see every day.

It’s a DB28 Tourbillon by De Bethune. A watch doesn’t get any lighter than this. I love the futuristic design and the incredible lightness on the wrist, like there’s nothing there. That’s down to the titanium case. Plus it has a manual-winding movement, which I like.

So what happened to your Urwerk?

Well, it started a new life last year after it was auctioned. For a good cause.

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr.
You get to wear some of the most beautiful watches in the world on-screen, often Jaeger-LeCoultre. What draws you to this brand?

I actually wear a Reverso on a regular basis, off-screen. I love that these are timeless watches. That sounds crazy, I know. Who wants a timeless watch! (laughs). I also liked the look of the Bulgari Diagono I wore in Iron Man.

I hear you're a big watch collector…

Big, I don’t know. I’m under six feet tall, you know! (laughs)

I have a soft spot for a Baume & Mercier that belonged to my grandfather.
I learned a lot about your passion for watches from a video you made. I mean, I didn't know Ben Stiller had gifted you a watch.

He did indeed. An orange titanium Bell & Ross [Bell & Ross BR01-94]. He gave it to me after we wrapped Tropic Thunder. When you see it, you could be fooled into thinking it was this huge, heavy thing but actually it’s really light. It looks like it came straight out of the cockpit of a fighter plane.

And the watch that made the biggest first impression?

The Patek Philippe Nautilus Moonphase my wife gave me for my birthday. That’s a fine watch; a work of art and a fabulous piece of technology.

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr.
The one you love most?

My “Hulk-green” Rolex Submariner. I also have a soft spot for a Baume & Mercier that belonged to my grandfather. He was a bit of a wheeler-dealer!

Who's it to be: Sherlock Holmes with his pocket watch or Iron Man with a high-tech electronic watch?

Impossible to say. It’s like asking me would I rather poke out my left eye or my right eye. Remember these characters come from different periods in time and their investigative methods are completely different, too. Sherlock has brilliant analytical capacities and impeccable logic. Iron Man, on the other hand, is an amazing mind who owes everything to technology. I guess I’m somewhere between the two.

I'd like to follow a similar path to Robert Redford.
Do you and Iron Man have anything in common?

I’m not a gadget freak. I’m more impressed by the men and women who devote their lives to researching and developing this or that technology. A while back, I had the chance to meet Elon Musk, the man behind PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX. I’m convinced that one day a guy like him will produce an actual Iron Man. Other than that, there’s no way I would take my watch or my phone apart to see what was inside. I’ll leave that to the manufacturer, whereas Iron Man can tell you exactly how many transistors or components there are in your phone or your watch mechanism. He could quote the reference for every one of those parts from memory, then tell you where they were made.

Where do you want to be in thirty years' time?

Well, I think I’ll still be here on Earth. I don’t see myself volunteering to go live on another planet. I’d like to follow a similar path to Robert Redford and try to create something along the lines of the Sundance Festival. For example, I would love to set up an organisation to help young people break into acting, rather than staying in front of the camera. But who knows where the movie industry will be by then. I hope I’ll still be a part of it, though.

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