On September 6, 2018, the world lost one of the most talented film legends to ever grace the silver screen, Burt Reynolds. Reynolds’ acting career spanned over six decades. In that time, he starred in some of the most iconic movies ever made. A few of his most memorable films include The Longest Yard, the Smokey and the Bandit trilogy, and Boogie Nights.

In his heyday, Reynolds was a heartthrob, and in his final years, a silver fox. His deep voice, signature moustache, and rebellious yet likeable characters gave him that alluring and relatable quality. His lasting impact on cinema and our culture will continue on the screen. Reynolds final film, Defining Moments, premieres Christmas Day.

Burt Reynolds – The Early Years

Reynolds was born in 1936 in Lansing, Michigan but grew up in Riviera Beach, Florida. His mother was a nurse, and his father was a retired army colonel and police chief. He attended Florida State University on a football scholarship and got drafted to the Baltimore Colts. Then, a career-ending injury led him to pursue acting. From his upbringing and early life to his lasting film legacy, he was an all-American man. Therefore, it comes as no surprise he was also a Rolex man.

With aspirations of becoming an actor, Reynolds moved to New York City in his early twenties. There, he worked in restaurants and clubs to make ends meet while auditioning. While performing in a revival of Mister Robetrs, a television executive spotted Reynolds, and he landed a contract. He received recurring roles on Gunsmoke and Riverboat before getting his own series, Hawk, in 1966 at age 30.

Throughout his television career, Reynolds worked on some small films. However, his big break didn’t come until 1972 at age 36. That year, he co-starred alongside Jon Voight in Deliverance. The film not only skyrocketed Reynolds to fame but also established him as a serious actor. For the remainder of the decade, he continued to be one of Hollywood’s most sought-after superstars.

The 1980’s and 1990’s

In the 1980’s, Reynolds returned to television. He played the lead in the sitcom Evening Shade, which garnered him both an Emmy and Golden Globe. Then, he made his return to film in the 1990’s, first with Striptease in 1996. A year later, he scored another Golden Globe for best supporting actor in Boogie Nights.

Burt Reynolds

Photo Credit: Alan Light

Reynolds continued to act and work behind the scenes into the new millennium. He had his hand in projects up until shortly before his death. In 2015, he published a memoir, But Enough About Me. Just a year before, he caught the attention of fans and film buffs with an auction of 676 personal effects. The lots ranged from the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am Coupe from Smokey and the Bandit to his football helmet from The Longest Yard. However, the items we found most interesting are from his watch collection.

His Watches

Through the watches auctioned, we get a sense of Reynolds personal style and sense of nostalgia. There were two wristwatches with western-style jewelry cuffs: a Timex and an Omega. Both of these look strikingly similar to the watches he wore in Smokey and the Bandit. There were two Rolex models, a 14-karat gold Oyster Perpetual Date and a classic Submariner. Finally, there was an 18-karat gold pocket watch from Sally Field with a highly personal inscription: To Burt Love Sally 2-11-81…Not just for an hour, Not just for a day, Not just for a year, but for always…Will you marry me? 

Reynolds began dating his Smokey and the Bandit co-star around the time the movie filmed. He proposed to her at the wrong time, and she did the same. In a 2012 interview, he admitted she was the love of his life—the one who got away. Though the pocket watch may be the most unremarkable example from his collection, it’s certainly the most weighted.

Check out other Profiles in Time, like Bruce Willis.

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