The love affair between Rolex and cinema began more than 50 years ago. As its prominence as a watch brand grew, so did its prevalence on the silver screen. Rolex watches appeared on the wrists of famous characters—think Sean Connery’s James Bond in Dr No or Paul Newman’s Oscar- winning turn as Eddie Felson in The Colour of Money.

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The Greenroom at this year’s Oscars was themed around the natural world.

The Greenroom at this year’s Oscars was themed around the natural world. Photo: TPG Images

Sometimes, a Rolex watch was used as a plot device to shed light on the motivations of a character—like when Tom Cruise tries to pawn his solid gold Rolex Day Date in Rain Man, referencing what we all know about the real world liquidity and value of a Rolex watch. Sometimes it made an anachronistic but all-the-more memorable appearance on screen, such as when Tony Curtis, playing a slave in ancient Rome accidentally kept his Rolex on in the cinematic classic, Spartacus. Off-screen, the prestige and value attached to the watch brand is such that Keanu Reeves gifted Rolex Submariners to the four members of the stunt team on John Wick 4 after filming wrapped.

Sean Connery in Dr No sporting a Rolex Submariner.
Sean Connery in Dr No sporting a Rolex Submariner. Photo: Getty Images

Rolex has been quietly cementing its cinematic legacy in other ways that support and uplift the world of cinema. For one, the brand has built a lasting partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. For the past seven years, Rolex has been the exclusive watch of the Academy and sponsors of the Oscars and hosts the Greenroom, a convivial backstage space where Oscar nominees and presenters relax and mingle in between going on stage.

Every year, Rolex develops a new theme for the Greenroom and this year the spotlight was literally on the colour green, paying tribute not just to the chromatic identity of the brand, but also as a celebration of the natural world. The palette was a combination of neutrals and shades naturally found in plants, while elements like woven materials, a ceiling of exotic leaves, a curtain of curved bamboo, and custom-made furniture were used to create a truly calming space fit for Hollywood royalty and dedicated cinematic artists alike.

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Beyond its material support at awards shows, Rolex also has year-round initiatives like the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, established in 2002 as an exchange between different generations of artists. Past mentors in the programme included authors like Margaret Atwood and the late Toni Morrison, artists like David Hockney and Sir Anish Kapoor, and of course, luminaries from the world of film, including Alfonso Cuarón, Martin Scorsese, Alejandro G Iñárritu, and more recently, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The exterior of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
The exterior of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Photo: TPG Images

The programme gives up-and-coming young talents a precious opportunity to collaborate—for at least six weeks—with established veterans in their respective fields. The rigorous selection process means that mentees cannot apply, but rather, are handpicked by an independent committee and matched to established mentors who have their own sets of criteria for candidates they want to work with. In May last year, the brand celebrated the 20th year of the years of the Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative with the Rolex Arts Festival held in Athens, Greece, with multi-disciplinary performances celebrating the creative partnerships of more than 60 pairs of mentors and protégés.

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Rolex sealed its involvement with cinema by becoming a founding supporter of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures— the largest museum that is dedicated to filmmaking in the US. Opened in Los Angeles in September 2021, the museum’s 4,500sqm of gallery space is dedicated to temporary and permanent exhibitions that are dedicated to the world of cinema. In the extensive array of film-related displays as well as props and memorabilia from the great moments in cinema history, you might just spot a Rolex watch or two in the mix.