Why Armie Hammer Became a Breitling Guy

John Sciulli/Getty Images for Breitling; Courtesy of Breitling

Their watches are the opposite of "I have a nice watch, so go fuck yourself."

Some celebrity faces of watch brands are so painfully miscast, they don’t even know or care that much about watches. (Case in point: I once interviewed an actor who didn’t even know that while some watches are battery-powered, higher-end models run purely mechanically.)

Armie Hammer falls into a different category as a new face of Swiss timepiece maker Breitling.

“My first nice watch was a Breitling Navitimer,” said the actor, sitting down inside the new Breitling store at Westfield Century City on the evening of Nov. 29. He bought it for himself to celebrate his first lead role, in 2013’s The Lone Ranger. “I bought it from my dad,” reveals Hammer, who assumed his dad, Michael — who he said has a “nice collection” of watches — would cut him a deal. Not so fast; his pop insisted on a fair price for the piece, which the actor still wears to this day.

His relationship with the brand became official in 2018, meaning that the actor — who stars next in On the Basis of Sex (as the husband of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) — wears Breitling exclusively and makes some appearances on the company’s behalf.

In recent months, he's become more of a connoisseur. He even taught himself how to use the circular slide rule on the Navitimer, a watch beloved by aviators since its introduction in 1952. “It's great if I have to calculate how many gallons of fuel per hour I’m burning," deadpans Hammer, who, alas, is not a pilot himself, but still appreciates the details on the model he calls his everyday watch.

For the red carpet, he has a rose-gold, limited-edition automatic Navitimer 1, in a hefty 46mm case. And while his watch collection isn’t large, it does include a likely quite valuable pocket watch. “It’s a Patek Philippe that was owned by my great-grandfather,” said Hammer, referring to the late industrialist Armand Hammer. “And it still works.”

Hammer sat down with THR duringcocktail party to celebrate Breitling’s new Premier collection, based on a watch first introduced in the 1940s. The event included a Q&A with film critic Elvis Mitchell, host of KCRW’s radio show The Treatment, who asked the actor if different directors he’s worked with have different concepts of time. The short answer? Absolutely. With The Social Network director David Fincher, “Time seems to move very slowly," said Hammer. "Because I think he is, actually, the master of his own universe, and he wants time to move slowly so he can get more done.”

Working with Clint Eastwood on J. Edgar, “You learned quickly that time is money…. I think we were done by 2, 3 o’clock in the afternoon every single day because Clint boils down filmmaking to the most elemental pieces. He doesn’t waste time or deliberate on anything that isn’t necessary.”

And with his Call Me by Your Name director Luca Guadagnino, “It’s vacation all the time…we might be shooting something, but the second the sun broke from a cloud, it was time to just open up a couple of buttons of your shirt and spend five or 10 minutes just basking in the sun.... Time felt very fluid with Luca.”

He admits to wanting to direct himself one day. “Yes, that’s the goal,” said the actor. “It’s come close a few times, but getting a movie made is not an easy thing. Normally it takes lightning striking about 500 times.” And he said he’s taking a rare vacation over New Year’s with his wife, Elizabeth Chambers, his first “in probably three or four years. I just don’t feel the need to decompress. I pine for what I do so much that I'd rather just try get onto another project.” That next one? Starring in Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of the Agatha Christie story Death on the Nile alongside Gal Gadot.

Hammer — who was wearing Breitling’s 42mm Premier B01 Chronograph in stainless steel on his wrist — said, "You look at a piece like this, and you see the history behind it. You also see that it's beautiful, it's understated, it does everything you need a watch to do. Without it screaming in someone's face, ‘I have a nice watch, so go fuck yourself.’”