How Stars Discreetly (Yet Deliberately) Show Off Their Watches on the Red Carpet

How Stars Show Off Watches on the Red Carpet -Michael B. Jordan-watch-split-Getty-H 2019
John Lamparski/Getty Images; Brian Dowling/WireImage

A-listers from Michael B. Jordan to Chris Pratt and their stylists work to subtly (but clearly) display timepiece loaners on the awards-season carpet, by tailoring shorter sleeves or holding arms just so in front of the body: "That's the beauty shot."

It used to be that a well-dressed man would wear a fine timepiece discreetly, with a glimpse peeking out from under the shirt cuff. But times have changed.

As more stars become paid ambassadors (like Chris Hemsworth for TAG Heuer, Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Reynolds for Piaget, and Brad Pitt and Adam Driver for Breitling) and brands pursue placements on red carpets with expensive loaners, stakes have risen. And showing off a watch — one of the smallest yet most intricate accessories a star can wear — so that it’s seen on the carpet and in photos is something of an art. Stylist Ilaria Urbinati dresses Bradley Cooper, who became an IWC ambassador in 2018 and is expected to give a flash of what's on his wrist. Her strategy?

"Tailor one jacket sleeve a little shorter so the watch will show more," she says. Another tactic "is to do about a quarter-inch slightly wider cuff on the watch side, so that the shirt and watch hang out a bit more," says stylist Jeanne Yang, who works with Beverly Hills bespoke shirtmaker Anto to create custom shirts for Alexander Skarsgard and Robert Downey Jr. Yang adds that some men wear their watches closer to the hand, just above the wrist notch, to optimize visibility.

Impeccable tailoring is also key, says Ed Choi of Bind Marketing, who has worked for such brands as Breitling, IWC and Baume & Mercier to place watches on the red carpet: "When everything is that perfect fit, you are always going to get some great watch shots." Adds Jack Sepetjian, co-CEO of Anto, which in its history has made shirts for the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin: “The length of the sleeves are calculated so that the slightest movement in the arms will bring the sleeve up and the watch will be visible.”

Once the stylist's work is done, it's up to the actor to show off the watch. Chris Pratt (who is not an official ambassador for a watch brand, but frequently wears loaned pieces from Cartier, Panerai and Bell & Ross) is a master — pretend-adjusting his shirt cuff, smoothing his jacket lapels or simply holding his hands together in front of his body. Rami Malek, who has worn a Montblanc 4810 Day-Date during the Bohemian Rhapsody campaign, often keeps his arms akimbo so that his jacket sleeve slides up to reveal his watch. "Then there's the hand over the abdomen with the watch facing outward," says Choi of another stance.

"That's the beauty shot, the dream for a watchmaker." The worst thing is to stand still with your arms hanging stiffly down. Says Montblanc creative director Zaim Kamal: "The most natural way to show a beautiful watch is to keep it in movement." And nothing's better for watch display than holding up a statuette at an awards-show podium, adds Yang: "It helps if you win."

A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.