Watching Movies: James McAvoy Wears A Rolex Datejust To Fight Pennywise The Clown In ‘It Chapter Two’
It’s a timepiece that never clowns around in our watch-related, Halloween-themed, movie of the week.
Hello Georgie, want to see some watches? Welcome to the world of Pennywise the Clown – a fictional universe straight from the imagination of extra-prolific novelist Stephen King. The 1986 book It clocks in at over 1,000 pages and serves as a truly immersive reading experience into the lives of a group of children – turned adults – in the small town of Derry, Maine, as well as their years-long battle against a positively terrifying ghoulish monster in a clown costume (complete with makeup). The novel was first adapted into a fairly cheesy TV-miniseries starring Tim Curry, no stranger to face paint, in 1990. In 2017, however, a new adaption looked to take the novel to new cinematic heights.
Directed by Andy Muschietti and co-written by True Detective alum, and director of the latest Bond film, No Time to Die, Cary Joji Fukunaga, It (2017) was a much-anticipated film that played off the streaming success of the Netflix show Stranger Things in terms of tone (it even cast one of its stars). Frustratingly, since it wasn’t signposted in the title, I went into this movie thinking I was getting the full It experience in one go, only to find out this was merely part one of two. Fans of Dune know what I’m talking about.
It’s that second part, It Chapter Two (2019), which is the focus of our horological exploits today. I actually had a chance to speak to Maria Simonelli, who worked in the props department for this second chapter, earlier this year on HODINKEE Radio. This film is the more adult of the two, following the main characters once they’re all grown up, with flashbacks mixed in. As folks do as they get older, many of the characters in the film wear watches, though one stands out clearly from the pack. Jame McAvoy, playing the adult version of Bill Denbrough – the Stephen King stand-in – wears a certain watch that even Paul Newman can’t disagree with.
Why We’re Watching
Check your calendar – the real one, not the one on your phone – it’s Halloween weekend! The spookiest time of the year calls for the scariest of movies. This week’s pick is less of a sequel and more a continuation of a singular film vision, with a star-studded cast including Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Bill Skarsgard, and our man of the hour, James McAvoy. As watch lovers, we have to go the extra mile and pick horror films that also feature killer timepieces. It Chapter Two does just that.
In the midst of a story about getting older and facing the evils of childhood – as in man-eating, nightmare-inducing, clown evil – is the classic-of-all-classic stainless steel watches on the wrist of the film’s adult protagonist, Denbrough (played by McAvoy).
Now, taking a novel from the page to screen can often be fraught with issues. It’s well-documented that Stephen King had his share of frustrations with the way Stanley Kubrick adapted The Shining, going so far as to publicly denounce the film itself. On this recent It endeavor, however, King was more closely involved with the production, and even makes a cameo appearance on-screen.
The screen version of Denbrough has great taste in watches, as he wears a steel Rolex Datejust on a jubilee bracelet and what looks to be a silver dial throughout the film. This is the same watch, essentially, that Paul Newman wears in The Color of Money – only, the It Datejust has a fluted white-gold bezel, where Newman’s was smooth and steel. Stephen King is not a noted Rolex-wearer, in fact, his taste is more in line with whatever can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin.’ He’s been spotted in the wild with the classic Timex Easy Reader – which is basically the best way to describe any book he’s ever written.
Who’s to say if King had a hand in choosing McAvoy’s Rolex for this film. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s highly unlikely. Regardless, I love the watch choice here. It’s the sort of timeless model that’s perfect for a writer – no distractions (something that The Shining‘s Jack Torrance hates, categorically).
Clearly, McAvoy’s Denbrough receives the watch sometime between his teenage and adult years. Perhaps it was something he spent his hard-earned money on after publishing his first novel. If nothing else, the Datejust serves as a dividing line between real-life King, the Timex-wearer, and fictional Dembrough, the Rolex-wearing, Hollywood (as played by McAvoy) version of himself. It’s also on his wrist when he and his crew take down Pennywise (sorry, not sorry, for the Spoiler), so maybe it’s the watch that gave him a little extra strength. I’d like to think so, at least.
When We’re Watching
About midway through the film, Denbrough (McAvoy) finds himself strolling the streets of Derry when he happens upon an old vintage shop – no, not a vintage watch shop. He stops cold in his tracks by the window of the store when he sees an old bicycle on display – one that once belonged to him. He enters the store and is immediately greeted by the owner, played by none other than Stephen King himself. Denbrough, who suffers from speech impediment that causes him to stutter, struggles to get the word bicycle out of his mouth and uses a certain expletive that begins with an “F” to aid himself in doing so. As he walks closer and closer to the store owner behind the counter [01:18:24], we can clearly see the light stainless steel of the recognizable jubilee bracelet glistening in the various pockets of dusty vintage light.
This is a long movie (as in over two-and-a-half hours long) so please excuse this jump to the ending. After all manner of spooky and murderous encounters with their face-painted foe, the self-proclaimed “Losers” (the nickname the group of kids gave themselves at the beginning of their friendship) finally take down Pennywise, whose face ballooned to the size of a blimp shortly before meeting his doom. To celebrate, they all go for a swim in the quarry, a setting packed with memories for them. As McAvoy emerges from the water [02:36:57], the camera settles on his wrist in the foreground and we get a nice (though slightly out of focus) closeup of his Datejust. One thing is for sure, he is using the Oyster case as it should be used, and proving the watch worthy of its 100m depth rating.
It Chapter Two (starring James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, and Bill Skarsgard) is directed by Andy Muschiette with props by Christopher Geggie. It’s available to stream on HBO Max and to rent on iTunes or Amazon.
Lead illustration, Andy Gottschalk