Summer Time: 'Atomic Blonde,' 'Dunkirk' Put High-End Timepieces Front and Center

Robert Downey Jr. - Spider-Man: Homecoming Premiere - Getty - P 2017
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A number of watches are getting the Hollywood treatment in the season's hottest movies.

If you were among those who caught Atomic Blonde during its $18.6 million opening weekend, chances are you noticed Carl F. Bucherer — if you think that’s one of Charlize Theron's co-stars, however, guess again. It's the brand of watch that figures prominently in the film.

Two Carl F. Bucherer timepieces, the Manero CentralChrono and Manero Flyback, play a key role in Atomic Blonde's plot, while Theron wears the Manero AutoDate. The choice of Bucherer was no accident: The film's director, David Leitch, also worked with the brand when he co-directed 2014's John Wick and brought it back when he exec-produced 2017's John Wick: Chapter 2.

"The CentralChrono travels through the whole movie; it literally plays a character," says actor Daniel Bernhardt, who plays a soldier in Atomic Blonde and also appeared in John Wick; born in Bern, Switzerland, he's been a brand ambassador for the Lucerne-based Carl F. Bucherer since 2010. "David really responds to the look of the brand; his films are all about non-stop action, so the watches worn by these characters have to feel really sleek and sophisticated and technical," Bernhardt adds.

Bucherer is the latest in a series of high-end watches enjoying a moment on the summer 2017 movie schedule. A vintage Omega, the CK2129, is seen on the wrist of Tom Hardy's RAF pilot in Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, an authentic piece that, with its easy-to-read dial, indeed was issued to pilots at the start of World War II. At the other end of the style spectrum, one of the stars of Spider-Man: Homecoming wears a watch by the decidedly more avant-garde Urwerk. In late 2016, Sony Pictures contacted Urwerk, explaining that one of its actors — no names were divulged in the request — wanted to wear a timepiece by the Geneva-based brand in the latest installment of its Spider-Man franchise.

Urwerk spokesperson Yacine Sar was skeptical and at first demurred, but Sony Pictures persisted. "So I flew all the way to Atlanta to meet this new fan," she says. It turned out to be Robert Downey Jr., who thought the styling of the UR-110RG, a futuristic-looking piece crafted in titanium with a rose-gold bezel, perfectly suited his Tony Stark/Iron Man character. (The price tag of the UR-110RG, which tells the time via a system that employs orbiting satellites, likewise fits the Tony Stark billionaire persona: The timepiece retails for $115,000.)

Another wealthy superhero displays his love of upscale watches in Justice League's just-released trailer, which premiered July 22 at Comic-Con in San Diego. Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne has worn Breguet's Tradition Fusee Tourbillon 7047, a 41-millimeter grand complication in platinum, since 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and with Affleck's sleeves rolled up, it's easy to spot the Breguet three times in Justice League's four-minute trailer. The 7047 was selected by both Affleck and director Zack Snyder, says a Breguet spokesperson. "They felt it was the best watch for the character and helped complete the image of Bruce Wayne," the rep adds.

As summer transitions into fall, watches enjoying a star turn in movies is an idea that promises to continue: Justice League opens Nov. 17, while TAG Heuer created a special edition of its Connected Modular 45 to play a role in the plot of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, which bows Sept. 22. "Watches and cars say a lot about a character and a film, so I get it," Bernhardt says. "I'm a pretty big watch geek, and a really cool watch makes a major statement about a character. And other watch geeks are paying closer attention. [The trend] will only get bigger."