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Why watches are a “tool” for Dwayne Johnson
Watch Stories

Why watches are a “tool” for Dwayne Johnson

Friday, 05 October 2018
By Frank Rousseau
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Frank Rousseau

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7 min read

Dwayne Johnson has become Hollywood’s biggest (in every sense) action-movie star, with a will to match his impressive physique and bone-crushing handshake. Needless to say, only the most “virile” watches make the grade.

A former WWE professional wrestler and seven times world heavyweight champion, Dwayne Johnson could still be ruling the ring, but this gentle giant (Samoan on his mother’s side, African-Canadian on his father’s side) has won a new fanbase as an actor with a string of box-office hits that include The Scorpion King, The Other Guys, Walking Tall, the Fast and Furious franchise, The Expendables and G.I. Joe Retaliation. Between two action-packed blockbusters, he told us why he likes his watches to be as muscular as his six-foot-five frame.

You must have been one big baby!

You’d think so, but no! I was a scrawny baby, all skin and bone. In fact right up to my teens, I was a gangly kid. It didn’t help that I wore my hair in this unbelievably bushy Afro. It sat on my head like a helmet and, because of my slim face, people would constantly mistake me for a pretty black girl. It got worse when I started sprouting a beard. I don’t think people knew what sex I was! Girls would laugh at me and the guys just wanted to kick my ass. There was only one thing for it, and that was grab the bull by the horns!

So how did you bulk up?

Before you get iron muscles, you need an iron will. You can’t have one without the other. If you want to build a tower, first you need strong foundations. The same goes for your body. You need to be sure it can stand up to all kinds of pressure and outside forces. Like I always say, nothing takes the place of training. You can look for alternatives, you can cheat, but you’ll always be disappointed with the result. You need to break a sweat if you want to gain muscle, breathing, suppleness and, most importantly, stamina. Once you’ve gained stamina, once your body knows that you’re in charge, it goes pretty fast. But again, there’s only way to achieve good physical shape, and that’s hard work and sweat! No pain, no gain. Especially in sport.

Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne Johnson
When you choose a watch, does it have to be as "massive" as you?

A watch is a reflection of the person who wears it, so for a guy my size, you can imagine a “lightweight” watch isn’t going to last long or look the part…

What do you mean by "lightweight" watches?

One that’s made from plastic or with a strap in fabric or leather. My sweat eats away at leather. Latex is better. A flimsy, plastic watch isn’t for me. Plus I’m a bit old for that now. What I most look for in a watch is how it’s made, what goes into it, and of course the design. I prefer materials that will stand the test of time, and my lifestyle of course. Whereas you change your clothes to suit the weather, or what you’re doing or where you’re going, I like a watch that I can wear for any occasion. When I go to a movie premiere, I’m not thinking, “what kind of watch goes with this shirt or this jacket?” For me, a watch is a tool. A good-looking tool, granted, but definitely not a piece of jewellery.

Maybe I'm mistaken, but I always think a heavy watch is a sign of quality.
What's your first reflex when trying out a watch?

I weigh it in the palm of my hand. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I always think a heavy watch is a sign of quality. It doesn’t make sense, I know, considering there are so many composites now that are far tougher than the traditional metals. If it’s a sports watch, I rotate the bezel. I also pay attention to the numerals. I expect a dial to be legible. There’s nothing more annoying than having to squint or put on glasses just to check you’re not running late.

Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne Johnson
A lot of the characters you play wear a Panerai…

True. They’re beautiful and reliable, which are two important qualities for a watch, wouldn’t you say?

You did a commercial for Apple's Siri. Do you think connected devices are taking over from traditional watches?

I’d say they’re two different markets with different approaches. There’s nothing to stop you finding something you like in both. No-one expects you to pick a side. It’s the same with photography. Some people like to use a digital camera, some prefer film, and some switch between the two. All that matters in the end is that you know what time it is, and you’re happy with what you buy!

You're an incredibly positive person. Do you ever have doubts?

Sure. I’ve even had bouts of depression.

How did you cope with that?

The first time I had to deal with depression was during my freshman year at college. I was on a football scholarship when a shoulder injury meant I couldn’t play any more, and I was sidelined. I felt I had no purpose, and gradually I cut myself off from others. Retreated into myself. My second depression came when I was dropped from the Canadian Football League. I had seven bucks in my pocket and no expensive watch on my wrist, that’s for sure. I had to go back and live with mom and dad because I couldn’t afford to keep myself. I was at a low, especially as I’d always dreamed I’d become a professional footballer and earn enough to buy a house for them. Then I divorced. The relationship with my ex-wife wasn’t easy, and we had a four-year-old daughter to think about. I felt terrible because I knew she would be affected by the separation.

I need a new challenge, and when you have ambition to spare, politics is a great springboard.
You've said that one day, you'd like to run for President...

Well, those weren’t my exact words. I’ve reached a point in my career and in my personal life where it’s all come together. I need a new challenge, and when you have ambition to spare, politics is a great springboard. I have no experience in the field. Right now, it’s just something I want to do: go out and meet people, listen to their story and help them. America needs a real leader. Someone who can unite the country. In the meantime, I have film commitments for the next three years, so there’s plenty of time to give it more thought. When I first came to Hollywood in 2001, Arnold Schwarzenegger gave me a lot of good advice. I’m inspired by what he’s achieved. When he was governor of California, we’d still hang out together.

If you do make it to the White House one day, will obligatory sit-ups be written into the Constitution?

[laughs]. At the very least!

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