Truth be told, most watch collectors pay little attention to the Hollywood, Bollywood or Hallyuwood star that is seen promoting their favourite brand or watch model. After all, they reason, watches are supposed to be appreciated and acquired on the basis of their own merits. Despite this, watch brands continue to sign up and pay for famous faces to front their ad campaigns and wear their watches to public events and in their films and music videos. These brands believe celebrity endorsements and the power of affinity, an unabashed attraction that fans reserve for their favourite stars, have the potential of growing a new customer base. We pick 10 of the hottest and most recent signees — the ones we feel have the best potential to win the hearts and minds of consumers.
45, American film director
CLAIM TO FAME: As the daughter of director Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now), it was only natural for Sofia Coppola to follow in her father’s footsteps. And so she did, making her directorial debut in 1999 with the critically acclaimed indie flick The Virgin Suicides. However, it was the commercial success of 2003’s Lost in Translation that really catapulted Coppola into the limelight, establishing her as a bona fide film-maker.
SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED: Coppola became a friend of Cartier in March 2016.
SCOPE OF PARTNERSHIP: Photographer Andrew Durham shot a series of portraits of Coppola wearing the Clé watch.
PERSONAL CONNECTION TO THE BRAND: Coppola already owns several pieces from Cartier, including her wedding ring and a panther ring (from hubby Thomas Mars), a mini Tank watch and bracelets such as the Menotte, Nouvelle Vague, Trinity and Love. “I have always loved Cartier — it represents the height of beauty, heritage, craftsmanship and history,” she said in a press statement.
HOW COPPOLA’S MAGIC MIGHT RUB OFF ON CARTIER: Coppola’s keen interest in fashion means she can often be found in the front row of runway shows, boosting Cartier’s appeal among fashion hounds, while her links to the cinematic universe means plenty of exposure for the Clé at red-carpet events and film premieres.
OTHER CELEBS IN CARTIER’S STABLE: Cartier only admits a select few to its inner circle. Some of the lucky ones include actress Monica Bellucci.
34, British actor
CLAIM TO FAME: A former stage actor, Eddie Redmayne shot to stardom in 2015 after winning an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything (2014). His subsequent performance as the transgender Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl (2015) netted him a Best Actor nominee at the 2016 Oscars.
SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED: Redmayne became an Omega international ambassador in 2015.
SCOPE OF PARTNERSHIP: He is the face of Omega’s Globemaster collection.
PERSONAL CONNECTION TO THE BRAND: Redmayne’s father, Richard Redmayne, a businessman in corporate finance, owned a gold Omega watch with a black strap. He was given this watch when he came of age and has been enamoured by the brand’s understated elegance ever since.
HOW REDMAYNE’S MAGIC MIGHT RUB OFF ON OMEGA: Distinguished by its fluted bezel and “pie-pan” dial, the Globemaster was born in the 1950s and reinvented in 2015. As a vintage-styled watch made for a younger audience, the choice of using a younger actor such as Redmayne seems obvious, particularly as he has some serious acting chops. Plus, he is known for his impeccable sartorial sensibilities, further playing up the collection’s debonair charm.
OTHER CELEBS IN OMEGA’S STABLE: Omega has no shortage of A-list celebrity endorsees, such as George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Zhang Ziyi and Abhishek Bachchan.
39, American singer, songwriter and producer
CLAIM TO FAME: By the age of 16, soul/R&B impresario Robin Thicke was already writing and producing songs for top R&B artists, yet he only achieved fame — or notoriety, depending on one’s perspective — in 2013 with the release of his controversial single “Blurred Lines”. The album of the same name garnered three Grammy nominations, while the single spent 12 weeks at number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED: Harry Winston announced its collaboration with Thicke in 2015, during the launch of its long awaited Opus 14.
SCOPE OF PARTNERSHIP: Thicke was signed on as a timepiece ambassador and will also make appearances at Harry Winston’s promotional events.
HOW THICKE’S MAGIC MIGHT RUB OFF ON HARRY WINSTON: Harry Winston’s bejewelled confections are a firm favourite among Hollywood A-listers, but its timepieces are perhaps less well-known. Thicke’s frequent red-carpet appearances could help change that. Plus, his ties to the R&B universe could open up a new channel of clientele.
OTHER CELEBS IN HARRY WINSTON’S STABLE: Despite being one of the first jewellers to start the trend of loaning jewels to stars on the red carpet, Harry Winston’s official celebrity endorsees are few and far between. In recent memory, only Hugh Jackman — prior to his stint with Montblanc — was engaged to promote the brand’s timepieces.
35, American actor
CLAIM TO FAME: Hollywood leading man Chris Evans has been acting since 2000, but it was not until 2005’s Fantastic Four that he found a niche as a comic book superhero come to life. He went on to play Captain America in seven subsequent Marvel films, appearing most recently in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.
SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED: IWC welcomed Evans to the family in January 2016.
SCOPE OF PARTNERSHIP: Evans’ role as ambassador is not quite clearly defined; so far, he seems to lend star power at IWC’s various global events, usually with a Portugieser on his wrist.
HOW EVANS’ MAGIC MIGHT RUB OFF ON IWC: Evans’ fans comprise grown-up Marvel fanboys and, thanks to his boyish good looks, legions of excitable tweenage and teenage girls. The former, of course, is of more interest to IWC: The flagship Portugieser collection spans entry-level models to high complication pieces, meaning that an Evans fan, once hooked on IWC, has the potential to grow old with the brand.
OTHER CELEBS IN IWC’S STABLE: IWC has one of the biggest stables of movie stars in the industry, no doubt because of its strong ties to (and sponsorship of) various film festivals. The list includes Scott Eastwood, Rosamund Pike, Kevin Spacey, Emily Blunt, Hilary Swank, Zhou Xun, Christoph Waltz and Dev Patel.
39, Canadian actor
CLAIM TO FAME: Hollywood heartthrob Ryan Reynolds made his screen debut in the short-lived TV sitcom Two Guys and a Girl (1998–2001). He is mostly known for goofy antics and slapstick roles in Van Wilder: Party Liaison (2002), The Proposal (2009) and most recently, Deadpool (2016), where he played the wisecracking, potty-mouthed Wade Wilson.
SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED: Reynolds joined the Piaget family in June 2016.
SCOPE OF PARTNERSHIP: He is the frontman for Piaget’s new Polo S watch.
PERSONAL CONNECTION TO THE BRAND: Reynolds claims to have been aware of Piaget since he was “just a little kid” and admires the brand for its timelessness and iconicity.
HOW REYNOLDS’S MAGIC MIGHT RUB OFF ON PIAGET: Reynolds has mass appeal, ranging from comic-book fanboys and 20-something college graduates, to rom-com loving women of all ages. This bodes well for the Polo S, since Piaget is marketing it as an entry-level offer.
OTHER CELEBS IN PIAGET’S STABLE: High-wattage glamazons and power players such as actresses Gong Li and Jessica Chastain, as well as K-pop singer Choi Siwon make up the roster of Piaget’s brand ambassadors.
47, Australian actor
CLAIM TO FAME: One of Hollywood’s biggest names today, Hugh Jackman is best known and best loved for playing Wolverine in the X-Men films (since 1999). But his acting chops also extend to the stage, where he won a Tony Award for his Broadway performance in 2003’s The Boy from Oz.
SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED: In 2014, Jackman was appointed worldwide ambassador for Montblanc with the exception of North America (for reasons unknown); in April 2016, he agreed to include North America, finally becoming a true international spokesperson.
SCOPE OF PARTNERSHIP: Jackman fronts Montblanc’s campaigns across all categories: Watches, pens, leather goods and accessories.
HOW JACKMAN’S MAGIC MIGHT RUB OFF ON MONTBLANC: Montblanc has a very masculine sensibility and who better to espouse this virility than Wolverine himself. That Jackman is renowned for his incredible range and diversity also works in Montblanc’s favour; the brand is noted for its broad offer of products.
OTHER CELEBS IN MONTBLANC’S STABLE: Considering Montblanc’s breadth of products and extent of market penetration, the brand’s ambassadors are just as varied, ranging from Charlotte Casiraghi, granddaughter of Grace Kelly, to badminton champion Lin Dan and Taiwanese actress Gwei Lun Mei.
37, Welsh actor
CLAIM TO FAME: Fans of London’s West End productions will probably know Luke Evans from his performances in Rent and Miss Saigon. On the silver screen, Evans landed his breakthrough role as Greek god Apollo in 2010’s Clash of the Titans, but he is best known for his character Bard in The Hobbit films (2013-2014).
SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED: Bulgari appointed Evans in 2014.
SCOPE OF PARTNERSHIP: He is Bulgari’s exclusive brand ambassador for watches.
HOW EVANS’S MAGIC MIGHT RUB OFF ON BVLGARI: Bulgari produces some of the finest watches on the planet, yet the house is still somewhat of an underdog in the watchmaking universe. Similarly, Evans may have acted in some of the biggest movies to date, but he has yet to land a titular role. Bulgari is likely to be leveraging on his underdog status to appeal to watch enthusiasts in search of non-mainstream options.
OTHER CELEBS IN BVLGARI’S STABLE: Evans and model-actresses Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Shu Qi are Bulgari’s official ambassadors; but the brand’s Friends of the Brand list encompasses ex-Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, actors Alexander Ludwig, Eric Bana and Naomi Watts, musician Jared Leto and ex-French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, among others.
31, Indian actress
CLAIM TO FAME: Mumbai-born actress Freida Pinto caught her big break in 2008’s sleeper hit, Slumdog Millionaire, playing Latika, the love interest of lead character Jamal (Dev Patel). Her next commercial success came in 2011 with the release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Elsewhere, Pinto is also known for her work as a women’s rights activist.
SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED: Audemars Piguet co-opted Pinto in 2015.
SCOPE OF PARTNERSHIP: She is depicted in campaign visuals wearing the brand’s new Diamond Fury cuff watch; at events, she can be seen donning a Royal Oak or Millenary timepiece.
HOW PINTO’S MAGIC MIGHT RUB OFF ON AUDEMARS PIGUET: One is inclined to think that Audemars Piguet might be capitalising on Pinto’s Indian origins to boost the brand’s profile on the subcontinent. Yet she is not a major figure in Indian cinema, having appeared mainly in American and British films. The more likely reason for the endorsement is that Audemars Piguet wants to raise its profile among women, seeing as they have been actively pushing women’s timepieces in recent years. That Pinto is a women’s rights activist cannot hurt.
OTHER CELEBS IN AUDEMARS PIGUET’S STABLE: Superstar athletes make up the bulk of Audemars Piguet’s portfolio of celebrity ambassadors. These include racing hero Michael Schumacher and cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.
40, Australian race car driver
CLAIM TO FAME: For 12 seasons (2002–2013), Mark Webber was one of the most bankable names in Formula 1 racing, scoring 36 podium finishes, 11 pole positions and nine Grand Prix wins. In 2014, he signed up with Porsche Motorsport to race in the FIA World Endurance Championship and led the Porsche team to victory in 2015.
SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED: The partnership between Chopard and Webber was inked in 2014.
SCOPE OF PARTNERSHIP: He is chiefly the ambassador for Chopard’s Superfast collection.
PERSONAL CONNECTION TO THE BRAND: Of the partnership, Webber said that he appreciated the fact that “there are no smoke screens; with Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, co-president of Chopard, I am dealing with a true enthusiast and connoisseur of motor car racing and mechanics.”
HOW WEBBER’S MAGIC MIGHT RUB OFF ON CHOPARD: The addition of Webber to Chopard’s roster of racer-ambassadors is clearly aimed at 30- and 40-something motorsports fans, who grew up watching Webber on ESPN and who are likely to constitute the Superfast’s core audience. But as Webber noted, the alliance is as natural as they come, given Scheufele’s passion for motorsports and the fact that Chopard is official timing partner for the Porsche team.
OTHER CELEBS IN CHOPARD’S STABLE: Model Petra Nemcova, race car drivers Romain Dumas and Brendon Hartley, and racing legend Jacky Ickx.
33, Australian actor
CLAIM TO FAME: Melbourne-born Chris Hemsworth starred in the long-running Aussie soap Home and Away, but he is best known for playing the Norse god Thor in the Marvel films Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012), Thor: The Dark World (2013) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).
SIGNED, SEALED AND DELIVERED: Hemsworth was made TAG Heuer’s international brand ambassador in 2015.
SCOPE OF PARTNERSHIP: Hemsworth is the face of the TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 01 ad campaign.
PERSONAL CONNECTION TO THE BRAND: In 2013, Hemsworth played 1970s Formula 1 driver James Hunt in Rush. TAG Heuer was a partner of the film, and the relationship between them was spawned then.
HOW HEMSWORTH’S MAGIC MIGHT RUB OFF ON TAG HEUER: Hemsworth’s massive fan base (as of August 2016, he has 5.8 million followers on Instagram and 1.97 million on Twitter) is in line with the mass audience that TAG Heuer is gunning for with the Carrera Heuer 01, which the brand claims is the only 100 percent manufacture chronograph available for less than 5,000 Swiss francs (S$6,940).
OTHER CELEBS IN TAG HEUER’S STABLE: The brand has been shoring up a retinue of heavyweights and now counts soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo, model Cara Delevingne, superstar DJ David Guetta, quarterback Tom Brady and actor-racer Patrick Dempsey in its stable.