And utters the name of a rare Patek in our watch-related movie of the week.
This year shaped up to be – unofficially – the year of Ridley Scott. The Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982), and Gladiator (2001) director was feeling rather prolific (even at 84 years old), releasing two films in The Last Duel and House of Gucci in the same calendar year. One is a period piece set in medieval England, the other a period piece set in 1980s and ’90s Italy. Both have star-studded casts, and both feature Adam Driver – albeit in very different roles.
Today we’re focused on House of Gucci, a complete and utter vibe of a film that captured the attention of both the watch and broader fashion worlds when a single photo was released of Driver and Lady Gaga in their roles as Maurizo Gucci and Patrizia Reggiani.
The film is as campy as it gets – though I fear unintentionally – and illustrates the lives of the lavish, rich, and famous Gucci family. That means drama, betrayal, infighting, and a lot of fake Italian accents. But it also means watches …. so many watches from so many brands. Our man Driver (previously on WM for his role in Marriage Story) wears two different pieces in the film, both gold, but in distinctly different shapes.
Why We’re Watching
The film just became available for purchase digitally about a week ago, and is set to hit shelves on Blu-Ray this coming Tuesday (this goes out to the nine readers with a Blu-Ray player). So for all who missed the chance to see a variety of takes on the Italian accent from some of Hollywood’s finest actors in theaters, your time has come. And so has ours to feature this film and its interesting take on watches. I say interesting because, like a few movies featured in this column, the production crew in either the props or costume departments didn’t seem to care much about matching the watches to the period – like at all.
House of Gucci feels like a film aspiring to be a real-life take on The Godfather (1972) only instead of the mob, it’s the fashion world, and instead Al Pacino playing Michael Corleone, he plays Aldo Gucci, former brand chairman and son of founder Guccio Gucci. It tracks the marriage of Gucci (Aldo’s nephew) and Reggiani (played by Driver and Gaga), and the eventual shift from a small family business to a publicly traded fashion conglomerate.
Getting back to the period watch goofs, there’s a slew of luxurious timepieces to feast your eyes on in this film from Pacino’s Breguet Classique Power Reserve Moonphase in gold (worn in the ’80s and ’90s, but this particular model was produced in the early 2010s), or Jeremy Irons’ watch – what resembles a gold Vacheron Constantin Overseas (worn in the same period, but looks like a modern variant produced in the early 2000s). The same goes for Driver’s Maurizio who wears what look to be a JLC Reverso Classic Monoface and a Boucheron Épure, both wildly incorrect for the period.
We actually see the Boucheron the very moment the film opens (which foreshadows the film’s ending), but it’s the gold Reverso that gets the lion’s share of attention in the movie. It’s easy to mistake the watch for a Cartier Tank due to the similar case shape, but there are a few close-ups that allow us to see the dial and identify the signature Reverso Arabic numerals.
The Reverso is one of the most fascinating horological inventions of our time. It’s small, rectangular, and unassuming, but packs more information than a watch twice its size. That’s because as the name suggests, it’s reversible, meaning you can flip the watch over within the case and view different information on either side of the watch. With Maurizio’s watch, it’s simplified. It’s called the Monoface because there is only one … face. When you flip it over you are greeted by a solid caseback. So you can wear the watch and not tell the time if you want to (kind of like cars that let you hide the infotainment screen).
Maurizio wears this through much of the film, pairing it with both his wide array of bespoke suits, as well as just an undershirt. If this were a period-correct watch, it would be the perfect piece for a design-forward visionary like Maurizio (or at least that’s how he saw himself). It’s not your ordinary watch – it’s small, but it says a lot about taste, and goes with basically everything.
Then there’s the watch not worn, but only mentioned. If you aren’t a deep watch lover, the words uttered in this brief moment of the film might go in one ear and out the other, but for a lot of us here at HODINKEE, it’s the only thing we can talk about. I am of course referring to the scene where Driver’s Maurizio mentions the Patek Philippe ref. 2523 and his interest in potentially buying one. For those who don’t know, the ref. 2523 is the Patek vintage world timer. These are rare watches that we only see at auction these days. I had the chance to not only cover one recently, but see it and handle it in the metal at Phillips. That was a particular 2523 Eurasia dial that went on to sell for over $8 million. Needless to say, it was cool to hear his character speak about this piece of horological esoterica. How this ended up in the script, I have no idea – but I love that it did.
We also can’t talk about House of Gucci without mentioning Jared Leto’s tragic performance as Paolo – the Fredo of the Gucci family. Fittingly, because of how much he loves the family business, he wears a classic gold Gucci watch with signature green and red dial that shows up several times in the film. It’s interesting that the other members of the family aren’t outfitted with Gucci watches of their own, but ultimately not that surprising. The birth of Gucci’s watchmaking efforts took place in the early 1970s when the brand became one of, if not the, first makers of fashion watches. With all of the wealth, opulence, and showiness, it makes sense for the patron saints of Gucci to sport pieces of haute horology while Paolo is out there as a walking horological billboard.
When We’re Watching
The opening shot, as alluded to above, introduces us to Maurizio, and his taste in watches. We immediately see him check the time [00:01:19] at a small cafe table in the city square and get a relatively unobstructed view of the gold Boucheron on a dark brown leather strap. This is an odd watch choice and it’s as equally out of place as the JLC (in terms of period accuracy), but it also shows the willingness of his character to wear watches that he loves, and not necessarily pieces that are hot, or popular. It’s also refreshing to see a brand like this, one that I frankly was somewhat unfamiliar with, in a major motion picture.
Midway through the movie, we find Maurizio and Reggiani in the kitchen of their home – Maurizio ironing his shirt. The phone rings. Pacino’s Aldo is on the other end making an invitation to Driver to his birthday party – the first step in his eventual quest to firmly snatch what’s his family right, and take his place atop the leadership of the Gucci brand. Maurizio, reluctant to do so, acquiesces at his wife’s request [00:33:05]. Throughout this scene, we can see the gold Reverso on its black leather strap.
House of Gucci (starring Adam Driver and Lady Gaga) is directed by Ridley Scott with props by Federico Ciommo. It’s available to buy on iTunes or Amazon.
Lead illustration, Andy Gottschalk
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