Memorial Day weekend feels like an eternity ago. But that’s when Top Gun: Maverick – the long-gestating sequel to the 1986 blockbuster – was released. I wrote about the new movie, and the 1:1 UK replica watches in it, way back then. I knew it’d be a hit, and so did everyone else. But pretty much nobody expected it to contend for Oscars. Yet here we are.
Now, there’s no Oscar for best wholesale fake watches, or even best prop (sigh), so last year I nominated some excellently watch-y movies myself. And this year, the imaginary Best Watch Picture statuette goes to Top Gun in a runaway.
The movie brings so much to the table in terms of how a watch gets on screen in the first place. There’s a bit of product placement at work, sure, but if there’s such a thing as “great product placement” that’s what we’re getting here. On top of that is a watch with both cinematic and horological provenance, in addition to killer vintage high quality replica Rolex watches obtained through sheer happenstance.
How do I know all this? I went straight to the source: Robbie Duncan, property master on the film. In my initial Watching Movies post, I wrote about the IWC models that appeared wrapped around the wrists of actors like Miles Teller and Glen Powell. Those luxury copy watches were the what. With Duncan, I got to the how.
“We were out in Nevada just starting to get the movie prepped,” Duncan told me. “While we were there, we happened to meet this pilot who had an IWC and he said ‘I can hook you up with the owner.'”
The person he meant was the brand’s CEO, Christoph Grainger-Herr. “So then Chris flies down to Nevada and we have a great meeting with him,” Duncan recalled. “Chris and IWC were really cool in terms of letting IWC be a part of it. It got to the point where we were like ‘Great, we can have every character wear IWCs now.'”
This is where the idea of great product placement comes in. Duncan fell into a scenario where one of the most popular watch brands on the planet was granting him full access to its watches for use in the film. That’s nothing new though. What’s different here is the legitimacy angle. Swiss movements IWC replica watches has a relationship with the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program (real-life Top Gun), supplying watches to instructors that are unavailable to mere mortals like us.
“It was the best thing we could’ve had – to legitimize the pilots in that sense,” Duncan said. “Watches are the closest people can get to feeling they are like pilots. It made it that much more believable.”
There was something of a selection process for the top fake watches based on the rank of the characters on-screen. “Higher-ups got Portuguese, and the pilots wore Pilot’s Watches,” he said. To mix things up, some of them would have a green strap and some would have a black strap on either a “Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor” Mark XVIII or a “Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor” Chronograph.
In addition to utilizing authentic China replica IWC watches, Duncan was also able to design a special stopwatch in conjunction with the brand. “The stopwatch was fun and tricky because I had to convince IWC that someone could actually put it in their hand and break it when in reality that wouldn’t happen,” Duncan said. “It was such a cool process. IWC was able to 3D print me outside casings to allow the non-working prop watch to function as we needed in the film.”
Being the prop master on a job like Top Gun has some perks – and Duncan made the most of his. “I was able to get an IWC myself from the job – a Top Gun watch,” he said. “But what I did is take a Porsche Design band and put it on my IWC. IWC doesn’t make an actual metal band for this one. And when I sent mine in for service, the brand said ‘Robbie, yours is like a one-of-one Top Gun watch.”
Speaking of Porsche Design, let’s talk about Tom Cruise’s super clone watches for sale. In my previous story, I wrote that the Porsche Design Chronograph 1 by Orfina worn by Cruise appears to be the exact one he wore in the first film. Well, guess what? It actually is.
“Jerry Bruckheimer had this watch in his safe, and this is the exact watch Tom wore in the first Top Gun,” Duncan said. “And this one went from the set to the safe in the trailer. It had to be taken care of like crazy. The hardest part was getting doubles. There was no stuntman for Tom, but we still needed doubles of the watch.”
So what becomes of this piece of movie history when the film wraps? “At the end that goes back to Jerry,” he said. “Jerry is at the head of the pyramid. If Tom is at the crest at the top, Jerry is just a little bit higher.” Damn.
Of course, there’s one last Swiss made replica watches that caught everyone’s eye while they stuffed their face with popcorn in a packed theater. That would be the vintage cheap replica Rolex Explorer watches worn by Jennifer Connelly in the film. Where did that one come from?
“That watch actually came from one of the producers’ wives,” Duncan said. “She had one and then we were able to get another one. It is a beautiful vintage Rolex.” Yes, Robbie, yes it is.”