Rolex is a watchmaker like none other. Beyond the realm of horology, it provides extensive support to disparate fields of endeavour, across different industries, with a belief in unlimited human potential. In the field of arts, one of the most enduring partnerships the brand enjoys is with the world of cinema.
The association between Rolex and cinema has deep roots and goes back many years. Its watches have played their own role on the wrists of stoic protagonists in numerous films since the era of black-and-white cinema. Rolex watches enrich the identity of the characters who wear them with their powerful symbolism. That they should appear in so many films is no coincidence. When a character wears a Rolex watch, this is an artistic choice made by the actors and directors. Thanks to these watches and their screen presence, Rolex is indissociable from the world of film.
And today, by its support of artistic and technical excellence in filmmaking, Rolex itself has become an acting participant in its own right. Rolex encourages the preservation and transmission of the cinematic arts, promotes excellence and celebrates progress by accompanying living legends as well as budding talents through its Testimonees (Martin Scorsese and James Cameron), its partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the institution, the awards and the Academy Museum in Los Angeles) and the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.
Legendary filmmakers and Rolex Testimonees
Both Scorsese and Cameron are accomplished film directors whose films have entered the pantheon of classics. They have each received many awards and accolades, capturing audience worldwide with their inimitable style.
Scorsese received his award in 2007 for The Departed and he had been previously nominated nine times — making him the second-most Oscar nominated director of all time. Cameron won his Best Director Oscar for Titanic earlier in 1998 and he was also nominated in 2010 for Avatar.
These two directors personify excellence in their craft, exemplifying shared values of excellence and craftsmanship with Rolex.
Canadian filmmaker James Cameron was the first Rolex Testimonee from the world of cinema. He has helmed a series of iconic movies that punctuated many a youth. His early films worked almost exclusively in the realm of science fiction. The Terminator (1894), Aliens (1986) and Terminator 2 (1991) are all classics of the sci-fi action genre. These movies melded high-tech engineering with solid action and memorable performances, introducing the world to memorable characters like Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor and the sinister T-800.
With his reputation as a bankable director in place, Cameron had the clout to make blockbuster film and he exceeded expectations. True Lies (1994) was the highest-grossing movie that year; Titanic (1997) was the highest-grossing movie ever, until he surpassed himself with Avatar (2009).
Cameron’s association with Rolex has been linked for decades. Apart from featuring Rolex watches on the silver screen to lend identity to his characters, he has personally worn a Rolex for many years. After the success of Aliens, he bought the Rolex he always wanted: a Rolex Submariner and worn it on his many dives in the Russian MIR submersibles; on his film sets; when doing dives to the Titanic wreck; and on stage to receive a record 11 Oscars for Titanic.
Apart from the sci-fi engineering angle and trailblazing visual effects, another thread running through Cameron’s work is that of exploration. This featured prominently in The Abyss (1989) and his documentary Ghosts of the Abyss (2003), melding his loves of diving, exploration and science fiction.
Cameron has always had a fascination with the deepest reaches of the ocean. In March 2012, after building on years of experience, he set the world record for the deepest crewed dive when he piloted the Deepsea Challenger into the Mariana Trench — 10,908 meters under the surface of the Pacific Ocean. During this historic dive, he was wearing a Rolex Sea-Dweller, and an experimental watch, the Rolex Deepsea Challenge was mounted on the submersible’s arms (the timepiece flawlessly withstood the tremendous pressure of the seven-hour dive).
To commemorate this feat, Rolex released the Rolex Deepsea with a D-blue dial. On 1 November, James Cameron unveiled the Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge. Inspired by the experimental watch that accompanied him on his historic descent into the Mariana Trench, the Deepsea Challenge represents a new milestone in the world of Rolex divers’ watches. Guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 11,000 metres (36,090 feet), crafted from RLX titanium, and equipped with a helium escape valve and the Ringlock system, it is capable of accompanying divers in any environment — during freedives, submersible dives or in hyperbaric chambers. A watch designed to turn pressure into an ally in any situation, and an invitation to expand yet further the horizons of the deep.
A towering figure in the world of cinema, Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest directors of his time. His career spans over 50 years, gifting the world with a vast filmography of 26 films and numerous documentaries. Many of his films have become iconic: Mean Streets (1973), Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990) and The Departed (2006).
Scorsese is a meticulous director and one who participates in every stage of the production — be it at the scriptwriting stage, working out the score or in the editing room. He is a master of the language of cinema with an uncanny ability to build antiheroes into sympathetic protagonists, producing cinematic masterpieces that offer a personal vision of America while intricately exploring the human condition.
Sharing the same beliefs as Rolex in the importance of preserving the arts and transmission of knowledge, Scorsese is behind The Film Foundation as well as a past mentor in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.
As the founder of The Film Foundation, he is dedicated to protecting and preserving motion picture history. The realisation for the need to preserve this fragile legacy came about early in his career around the 1970s, when he watched movies from the black-and-white film era that had degraded badly. Conscious of the need to preserve this fragile legacy, he was joined by seven other prominent directors. They are Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas, Sydney Pollack, Robert Redford and Steven Spielberg. A few years later, Robert Altman and Clint Eastwood also came onboard.
With support from Rolex, The Film Foundation has restored over 925 films to date, including 50 films from other countries. These films are made accessible through public festivals around the world. To promote the importance of film preservation, the foundation offers a free educational curriculum — The Story of Movies — that teaches young people about film language and history.
Rolex strongly believes that it is essential for excellence to be passed on, from one generation to the next. So as to ensure the perpetuity of crafts and expertise, the brand has established the Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, in which promising young artists can benefit from the guidance and experience of great artists in their field. Martin Scorsese took on the mentorship role in the initiative’s 2008-2009 cycle. The protégé he was paired with was aspiring Argentinian filmmaker Celina Murga, who worked with him on the set of Shutter Island (2010). She has since gone on to direct documentaries in her native Argentina. Her first feature film, The Third Side of the River (2014) had Scorsese as Executive Producer.
Scorsese credits one of his university lecturers in New York who has set him on the path to greatness: “He set a fire in our hearts… If you were crazy enough to think you have got to make a movie, he was the one who inspired you.”
The close ties between Rolex and cinema is an essential feature of the global cultural landscape and Rolex is committed to support the artistic and technical excellence in filmmaking, and in perpetuating this form of art.
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