From the impeccable neo-noir style to the script adapted by the master of hard-boiled dialogue that is James Ellroy, LA Confidential oozes style, swagger and vintage cool. The proposed sequel might have been put on hold for the moment, but at least we can get excited for another filmic visit to the seedy underbelly of LA with a look at the original film’s pitch-perfect timepieces.

It’s a classic so we’ll assume that you’ve seen it already, but just in case, the film follows three cops trying to solve a murder in 1950s LA, each with their own motives for doing so. Corruption, revenge, high stakes, it has all the ingredients of the kind of classic noirs we just don’t get any more.

L.A. Confidential - Kevin Spacey wearing a Bulova wristwatch

Of course, while watching Kevin Spacey on film now has a few connotations we’d rather not dwell on, it was also the film that brought Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce to the mainstream, with Kim Basinger quite rightly winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Equally worthy of a supporting credit is whoever decided on the period-appropriate watches.

Rolex wristwatch in L.A. Confidential
Rolex Bubbleback wristwatch in L.A. Confidential

The watch worn by Pearce’s Ed Huxley for example wears a nice, minimal 1940s-style Rolex Bubbleback, complete with bombe lugs and lovely silver-white dial. As a family heirloom handed down from his father, the Rolex all but defines Huxley’s character. While it’s supposed to be an early automatic though, you can pretty clearly see it tick in the film, suspiciously like a quartz stand-in.

Bulova wristwatch in L.A. Confidential
Bulova wristwatch in L.A. Confidential

Kevin Spacey’s Jack Vincennes on the other hand sports a far more modest timepiece, yet no less stylish, in a vintage Bulova. It’s just as elegant, a touch more stylised and one of the most aesthetically-appropriate additions to the film. Both are similar and both say a lot about their fictional wearers. They’re certainly not the only reason the film was critically-lauded, but it can’t hurt.