Watching Movies: Leonardo DiCaprio Wears Two TAG Heuers For ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’
One’s gold, and the other’s less gold in our watch-related movie of the week.
Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) showcases capitalism at its seediest. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort, the penny-stock broker turned all-around degenerate, living his best life in “greed is good” America. Speaking of greed, the film features all manner of expensive things – from Belfort’s white Ferrari to his lush New York estate to his interesting duo of TAG Heuer watches.
Why We’re Watching
I hate to be the bearers of bad news, but Monday is Tax Day. In its honor, I’m looking at a guy who goes to great lengths to avoid paying those pesky taxes (including – but not limited to – taping literal stacks of cash to a human being and sending her on a transcontinental flight).
The Wolf of Wall Street is teeming with timepieces, only they aren’t the usual suspects (and when they are, they aren’t exactly what they seem). The film begins with a 22- year-old Belfort at the genesis of his career. His first day on the job, he meets his first boss (played by Matthew McConaughey) and we meet our first two watches.
Early on, DiCaprio wears a Seiko, which I hadn’t noticed until I talked to the film’s prop master, Robert R. Griffon Jr. It looks to be a Seiko Solar on a stretch band with a blue or black dial. You can see the day-date complication during the famed lunch scene with McConaughey, who wears the watch of the ’80s: A two-tone Rolex Datejust (or a very convincing replica). Interestingly, in this scene, DiCaprio wears his watch on his right wrist, which is the only time in the film he does so.
Noted watch guy Jonah Hill plays a prominent role as Donnie Azoff – the white-toothed, quaalude-popping former children’s-furniture salesman who quit his job to work for Belfort after laying eyes on his vintage Jaguar (and $70,000 paystub). Many people have spotted his watch as a yellow gold Rolex Daytona. According to Griffon, those people would be wrong. As is this case in many Hollywood productions, Azoff’s watch is a replica. A bummer, surely, but also fitting for a character who’s a bit of a poseur.
The main horological attractions are no doubt Belfort’s two (sort of) gold watches. He wears one for most of the second act, and the other in the third. Much like the Azoff Daytona, one of Belfort’s watches has also been mis-spotted: Many watch nerds have said yellow gold Rolex GMT Master on a jubilee bracelet. It’s not a bad guess, until you remember that DiCaprio was a TAG Heuer ambassador.
As Griffon recalls, DiCaprio was able to make a call to TAG and have watches supplied for the film. “One day a black town car showed up, a nice lady came out and handed me a bag full of watches,” Griffon says. DiCaprio chose two for his portrayal of Belfort. The first (the GMT-Master ringer) was a TAG Heuer 1000 Professional on a jubilee bracelet. It looks very much like an expensive yellow gold watch – but surprise, it’s gold plated. The TAG Heuer Professional series represented a wave of affordable Rolex alternatives in the late ’80s and early ’90s. While we would love to think everyone had a Submariner or GMT-Master, the higher likelihood is they were wearing one of these.
Belfort owning a gold-plated watch as opposed to the real deal is curious to say the least. He had more than the means to buy any watch he pleased, on a self-proclaimed salary just shy of a million bucks per week. But this watch is symbolic, as Belfort was a gold-plated person.
Griffon remembers DiCaprio’s other watch choice fondly. The third-act watch is an actual 18k gold TAG Heuer 2000 WN5141 with diamonds inlaid in the bezel, and a sapphire on the crown. According to Griffon, this (unlike the Daytona) was the real deal and cost about $40,000. The watch was released by TAG in the late ’90s and early 2000s as an upmarket play. It flopped then and remains forgotten today.
The easiest way to spot the difference between both Belfort watches is the bracelets. Rather than the jubilee, this one has larger links with a polished center section. As Griffon recalls, the TAG Heuer watches sat in a safe in his prop trailer for nearly a year after filming wrapped until Paramount called, needing them for photoshoots (the gold-plated TAG Heuer 1000 appears so clearly in the film’s theatrical poster that you can read the brand on the dial).
When We’re Watching
We get a great glimpse of the TAG Heuer Professional 1000 just as Belfort starts to get a bit too cute with his finances. As DiCaprio narrates his character’s stock manipulation scheme (via a system he calls a rathole), we find Belfort on the golf course with his hometown cronies – ahem – business partners (01:05:28). Brad (played by Jon Bernthal) hands him a duffle bag of money which Belfort then coolly opens and then tosses into the back of his golf cart. As he does so, his gold-plated TAG shines brightly under the TriState sun.
Toward the end of the film (spoiler alert), FBI agent Patrick Denham (played by Kyle Chandler) successfully turns Belfort into an informant or, to make another rodent reference, a rat. As the FBI explains to Belfort that he’ll need to give up his associates (02:35:04), and as Agent Denham puts the wire on him, you can see the TAG Heuer 2000 and its diamond bezel glimmering on Leo’s wrist – presumably not for long.
The Wolf of Wall Street is directed by Martin Scorsese with props by Robert R. Griffon Jr. and a soundtrack of songs selected by The Band’s Robbie Robertson. It’s available to rent on Amazon or iTunes. You can find examples of the TAG Heuer Professional 1000 or TAG Heuer 2000 WN5141 on eBay and the Seiko Solar on Amazon. For more watches from TAG Heuer and Seiko, check out the HODINKEE shop.
Lead Image Courtesy: Photo 12/Alamy