Hollywood Watches of Espionage, Part II

Hollywood Watches of Espionage, Part II

Sketchy Surfers, Intelligence Officers, And A Dictator – Timepieces Add Depth To Characters While Entertaining Watch Nerds

As we established in our first installment of this series (READ HERE), watches play a significant role in film and television, particularly as it relates to the world of espionage. Watch enthusiasts can’t help but notice when a propmaster or costume designer has absolutely nailed the watch or in some cases, missed the mark entirely. Portrayals of watches on the wrists of characters representing the military and intelligence communities are often particularly challenging, with factors like paid product placement further complicating the issue.

jack ryan John Krasinski Hamilton watch cia

In the vast majority of films or TV shows, watches play little to no role in the overall plot, instead serving as a minor detail representing at times incredible attention to detail on behalf of the filmmakers. However, here and there, watches add something to a film as a whole, adding depth to a character or acting as a plot element. For intelligence officers and special operations, the tiniest details matter, and, if nothing else, watch spotting within the context of our community is an old-fashioned good time.

In this piece, we’ll take a look at five additional examples of W.O.E. in Hollywood and provide our thoughts on the watch choices for a given character.

Point Break - A Sketchy Breitling Navitimer Quartz (Pluton)

Point Break movie watch breitling pluton navitimer quartz

Starting with one of history’s finest action films, Point Break is the improbable story of undercover FBI Agent Johnny Utah, played by Keanu Reeves, infiltrating a band of surfers with a penchant for bank robbery led by the charismatic Bodhi, portrayed by the late Patrick Swayze. While Bodhi is much too laid back and cool to wear a watch in much of the film, he does wear a Breitling Navitimer Quartz (also sometimes known as the Pluton) when it’s bank robbing time, even going so far as to say “little hand says it’s time to rock and roll” after a full-screen watch shot that we will attempt to recreate here.

breitling pluton navitimer quartz point break keanu reeves
(Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox)

It’s unclear whether Breitling’s early 90s marketing budget played a role in making the Navitimer Quartz Bodhi’s watch of choice, but it’s tough to argue with their decision-making process. Essentially the same watch as the Chronosport UDT, which was produced by Breitling and favored by Navy SEALs and other special operations forces of the day, the Navitimer Quartz provided 200 meters of water resistance and a slew of digital functions on top of its basic timekeeping abilities, exactly the kind of specs you need when you’re surfing in the morning and making tactical withdrawals in the afternoon. We don’t make the rules, sketchy dudes wear Breitling. 

Jack Ryan - Hamilton Khaki Field Auto Chrono

Jack Ryan John Krasinski amazon prime hamilton watch

Inspired by Tom Clancy’s best-selling series of books, Jack Ryan stars John Krasinski as a CIA analyst turned special operator, almost single-handedly saving the world from certain doom at least once in each of the show’s four seasons. While any number of inexpensive digital watches from brands like G-Shock might have made even more sense given Ryan’s Global War On Terror Marine Corps background, the analyst of action opted for a Hamilton Khaki Field Auto Chrono Automatic for the first couple of seasons.

jack ryan john krasinski amazon prime hamilton khaki

Stemming from Hamilton’s Khaki collection, which is inspired by the brand’s history of producing field watches for military forces as far back as the First World War, the Khaki Field Auto Chrono opts for a tacti-cool all-black treatment from the PVD-coated stainless steel case to the hands and indices. Conceptually, an automatic chronograph with 100 meters of water resistance checks out for Ryan’s character, but we can’t help but wonder if the watch might be a little bit hard to read given the almost total lack of contrast. Overall, it’s not a terrible choice, and at just under $2,000 would be affordable for the presumed GS-13.

Spy Game - Victorinox Swiss Army Officer’s 1884

Brad pitt robert redford spy game victorinox watch

In Spy Game, Robert Redford stars as Nathan Muir, a seasoned CIA Case Officer on the cusp of retirement tasked with freeing his former protégé Tom Bishop, portrayed by Brad Pitt, from imprisonment in China. Released in 2001, this film inspired a generation of post -9/11 Case Officers and is a relatively accurate (though Hollywoodized) portrayal of the business of intelligence. On Redford’s wrist throughout the film is a Victorinox Swiss Army Officer’s 1884. Victorinox is of course better known for its ubiquitous Swiss Army collection of knives and has also been a major producer of Swiss watches since at least the early 90s. While many watch snobs might turn up their noses at a brand like Victorinox, the watch makes perfect sense in this instance.

robert redford spy game victorinox watch cia

Serving as the prototypical career C/O, Redford’s character is a gray man, blending in and avoiding auspicious clothing or luxury items that might solicit further questions about his background or occupation. As much as many within the CIA appreciate and use watches from luxury brands including Rolex, Tudor, or Breitling, certain circumstances require a more subtle approach. The straightforward white dial and stainless steel format of the Victorinox Swiss Army Officer’s 1884 does exactly that, providing reliable quartz timekeeping and the additional functionality provided by a secondary 24-hour scale without attracting the type of undue attention that can get you killed and, perhaps more importantly, prevent you from rescuing Brad Pitt. 

The Dictator - Cartier Pasha 

sascha baron cohen the dictator cartier pasha

Revered for his seminal work Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator is the (true) story of General Aladeen, leader of oil-rich nation called Wadiya. After the assassination of yet another body double, Gen. Aladeen opts to travel to the relative safety of New York City with a Cartier Pasha on his wrist. So named for Thami El Glaoui, the Pasha of Marrakesh, the internet claims the Pasha was a special design dating back to the early 1930s and intended for the Pasha’s sporty lifestyle. Whether that’s true or not is another matter, but the story does lend itself to the inclusion of the modern Pasha, which was unveiled in 1985 and famously designed by Gerald Genta, in this film. 

sascha baron cohen the dictator cartier watch

Still, despite the supposed history of being designed for a fabulously wealthy Middle Eastern governing figure, we can’t help but wonder whether something even more ridiculous might have been a better fit for General Aladeen’s character and lifestyle. Just to throw a few ideas out there, what about a diamond-encrusted Patek Philippe or even an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak? That said, the Pasha’s historical tie-in demonstrates great care on behalf of either Sacha Baron Cohen himself or perhaps a particularly astute wardrobe designer. The watch might even be the least ridiculous part of the entire film.

Argo - Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea 116660

Ben Affleck argo movie rolex sea-dweller deepsea

In Argo, based on the real story of CIA technical officer Tony Mendez, played by Ben Affleck, is tasked with extracting six Americans holed up with the Canadian ambassador in Tehran, Iran after militants stormed the US Embassy on November 4th, 1979, taking 66 American diplomats hostage. Disguised as a film producer scouting locations for a science fiction film in Tehran, Affleck’s character wears a Rolex, which would theoretically be right in keeping with his cover assuming the Rolex in question was period correct. No joy, however, as the Rolex worn by Affleck in Argo was a decidedly modern Sea-Dweller Deepsea reference 116660, a watch released by the Crown in 2008. 

Ben affleck argo rolex sea-dweller deepsea

How this came to pass is anyone’s guess. In 2022, Hodinkee reported an urban legend that the prop department provided a replica of a period-correct Rolex Submariner for Affleck to wear, but the actor preferred a genuine Rolex. Any Rolex from the era, but perhaps especially the Submariner, would have made perfect sense. A posh Hollywood producer wearing a rugged luxury watch intended for diving for his adventurous location-scouting trip to Tehran? Hell yes. Instead, a modern 44mm Rolex theoretically designed for saturation diving time traveled to 1979 to assist Affleck on his personnel extraction adventure, once again proving that details matter in espionage as well as filmmaking. 

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In “Point Break” another surfer, “Roach?” was wearing a contemporary Rolex Sub when he shot Gary Busey at the Santa Monica airport. There’s a couple of good shots of it.
The Chronosport UDT had an NSN, so was in the DOD supply system. I managed to snag one along with a Leatherman tool. Happy days.


Well there’s a coincidence. I really enjoy this site and its content and I worked on the Film Spy Game. It’s not a film I see mentioned on line much, but good to see some good comments on here. It took 6 months of my life working with the Sound . I think all the Art departments took a lot of time to make it all as real as possible, some of the sets were amazing. The watches fitted in, maybe the still camera didn’t so well.I enjoyed working with Brad Pitt, Robert Redford eventually came round and was very friendly. Directed by the great Tony Scott, who it turned out had been at the same school as me. Keep up the good work I have enjoyed your site for a while now in the UK Many Thanks

Chris Corner
Chris Pine (AKA Jack Ryan) wore a Hamilton Khaki Titanium PVD coated at $900 is another perfect choice.

Tuesday is now the WOE day of reading for many of us! Great job.


Loving the W.O.E. articles, it’s the one newsletter (sorry, dispatch) that I look forward to hitting my inbox each week.

Point Break. Possibly the finest action movie of the 1990’s and possibly the finest prop master in Hollywood for subtly hinting that sketchy dudes do, if fact, wear Breitling.

All together now " I AM AN EFF-BEE-EYE AGENT!"


Spy games. One of the greatest movies with 2 of the greatest actors. I have been lucky enough to have been in the same room with both these iconic actors.


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