Movie Watches To Watch For This Christmas Season: Watches of Espionage Edition
Like we’ve always said here at W.O.E., tradition matters. It’s what builds culture and forms the pillars of our community. And during the Holiday season, tradition means appreciating the cinematic masterpiece that is Die Hard. As usual, we’ll look at the movie–and a couple other Christmas movies– through the lens of watches and national security.
Die Hard- “It’s the greatest Christmas story ever told”
Inside the wrist- tacticool style
There are people out there that might tell you Die Hard is not a Christmas Movie. The debate has been going on for over 30 years. We’re not going to take a position on the matter other than saying that the movie is playing theaters right now. You can go see the movie, in 2023, during the holiday season. It doesn't matter what naysayers think. It’s a Christmas movie. A family comes together, a Christmas holiday is saved, and everything is merry and bright in the end.
Re-creation Die Hard layout using a Tag model 932.206 from our friend @movementsofaction
With that being said, let’s get into why the TAG Heuer 3000 Series Quartz Chronograph is a fitting watch for protagonist John McClane, masterfully played by Bruce Willis. McClane is a NYC cop, and in 1988 when the movie came out, the city was grappling with a massive crack cocaine problem and a record number of homicides–1,842 in total. The streets were tough. McClane was tougher. He’s a little rough around the edges, and that unpolished element of his character was exacerbated by his newly-estranged wife moving his family to Los Angeles. While visiting her for her company’s holiday Christmas party, all hell breaks loose as a group of German terrorists hold the entire party hostage, killing a few employees in the process.
With his skills learned from being a cop on the mean streets of New York and his knack for improvisation, McClane jumps into action…and you know the rest. Yippee Ki Yay, motherf*cker!
TAG Heuer 3000 Series Quartz Chronograph - worn inside the wrist allows McClane to check the time while putting in work.
Worn inside the wrist in true tacticool fashion is a TAG Heuer 3000 Series Quartz Chronograph. It’s the perfect watch for McClane. The NYPD isn’t issuing watches, so this is a private purchase–or a gift from his ex-wife. It has a blue-collar character to it, and it’s the sort of watch that’s charming because it isn’t really a watch guy watch. It’s exactly the kind of watch you wear if you don’t care about watches. For McClane, it was a tool.
The Actual Tag worn by John McClane (Photo Credit: PropstoreAuction)
If McClane wore a Rolex or Patek, it wouldn’t telegraph the right message. McClane is effortlessly cool because he just doesn’t give a damn. In a world where we fetishize what watches are worn on screen, there’s a certain charm to a guy wearing a quartz TAG Heuer while using a Beretta 92F/S and a Heckler & Koch MP5 (actually a modified HK94s) acquired from the terrorists he eliminated to eventually get to Hans Gruber, played by Alan Rickman–his breakout role.
In addition to McClane’s TAG, Watches play a significant role in the plot. In fact, one crucial W.O.E.-related scene was reportedly left on the cutting room floor. In the original script, the members of the terrorist group synchronized their own black TAGs prior to entering Nakatomi Plaza. McClane would go on to remove one watch from the body of a dispatched terrorist, and use this small detail to identify Gruber as the leader of the group when he pretended to be a hostage. McClane’s ex-wife Holly wears a Rolex DateJust, a gift from her coworker and a not-so-subtle signal that she has moved on from the more “common” lifestyle of the wife of a cop.
Gruber’s Cartier Tank says everything you need to know about him–he has good taste and wealth to match. And he probably didn’t earn it the right way. After all, how do you fund a massive “terrorist plot” to kill innocent Americans?
Lethal Weapon - A Christmas Story
Speaking of guns and TAG Heuers in the late ‘80s, there’s another Christmas Movie that showcases a law enforcement officer showing us how to make an otherwise mundane watch cool. Martin Riggs, played by Mel Gibson in all four Lethal Weapon movies, wears a black plastic TAG Heuer Formula One. It’s 35mm, minuscule by today’s standards. But that doesn’t matter. It’s the man that makes the watch.
(Photo Credit Unknown)
Riggs is a former Army Green Beret turned cop, and that explains the spec of the Formula One on his wrist. It’s black on black on black–black dial, case, and plastic strap. The color echoes his inconsolable attitude after the death of his wife. The plastic Formula One was incredibly popular in the era, almost like the Moonswatch of today. It was cheap, it was relatively cool, and it was ubiquitous. It was launched in 1986, one year before Lethal Weapon was released. We also have credible intelligence that the Formula One will be making a comeback in the not-too-distant future as well.
Home Alone - Rolex the Escape and Evasion Tool
And of course a look at Christmas movies through the scope of W.O.E. wouldn’t be complete without a mention of one key moment that we’ve discussed before: trading a Rolex to get out of a sticky situation.
Kevin at high port practicing questionable trigger discipline, Breitling concealed under the Christmas sweater cuff.
In Home Alone, Kate McAllister, mother to the protagonist of the movie, 8 year-old Kevin, needs to get back to Chicago from Paris as quickly as she can after realizing she forgot him at home. At the airport she barters with an elderly couple for a seat on the plane back to CONUS with two first class tickets, $500, gold jewelry…and most relevant to W.O.E., a watch. But not just any watch, a Rolex. The elderly woman asks Kate if it’s a real Rolex and she’s met with Kate’s non-answer “Do you think it is?” immediately followed with “But who can tell, right?”
The interaction points to the nature of Rolex watches as universal currency- a tool. In this case it’s to get out of France, but a Rolex will most likely work as a bartering chip just about anywhere. It’s not just a tactic for those in SpecOps and the intelligence community. But of course, the repercussions of someone finding out it’s fake could be much more dire in that line of work. Luckily for Kate, she found her way back to the US and lived to fight another day.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to the W.O.E. community. Get out there and use your tools.
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