There are plenty things I look back on with misty, rose-tinted eyes from bygone days. Evanescence, Pokémon (the first 150, obviously), and more TV shows and movies than I can name. But as winter draws near, I’ve found myself re-watching one show in particular, one that pretty much came to define prestige TV: The Sopranos. But did you know there’s a connection between Swiss watch brand Oris and The Sopranos?
I shouldn’t really need to explain The Sopranos. I doubt there are many people reading these pages that haven’t caught a few episodes and absolutely nobody that has no idea what I’m talking about. But just in case, The Sopranos ran from 1999 to 2007 and was one of the best bits of TV ever made. Chronicling the rise and (possible) fall of leader of the Soprano crime family via extortion, racketeering, trippy drug-laced dream sequences and countless tense moments and betrayals. And that ending… the ending is legendary. I won’t spoil it, just so I don’t spoil it for some horologically-inclined ten-year-old that’s used his pocket money for a subscription.
Of course, while it might sound like a twisted crime caper – and it is – The Sopranos sets itself apart through its rich character development. One of those characters is Christopher Moltisanti (played by Michael Imperioli) an entitled gangster and nightclub owner. His story… goes places. But there’s one moment in particular that watch lovers will remember, and it involves Sir Ben Kingsley.
Being the supposed mover and shaker of the family, in Season 6, Episode 7: Luxury Lounge, Christopher tags along with the legendary British actor – playing himself – to a celebrity giveaway. It’s the kind of event where famous faces are handed things the brands want to see them wearing. One of those brands, who was invited to come along by a link to The Sopranos’ studio, was Oris.
This of course leads to Sir Ben stopping by the stand and walking away with a pair of Oris chronographs, one for himself and one for his stepson. This is product placement at its most natural, as actual honest-to-god, in-world product placement. You can’t miss it. That Kingsley gets given two watches also has the wonderful side-effect of making Christopher incredibly jealous, and he spends far too much time trying to get his own invite to the giveaway. He’s a big deal, don’t you know?
Apparently, Christopher was jealous of Kingsley’s Oris, as three episodes later, rival capo Vito Spatafore (Joseph R. Gannascoli) could be seen wearing his own Oris, a handsome Oris XXL Worldtimer. It’s less flashy than you’d expect from a crime boss, but the watch is well-suited at least to international ‘business’ calls. In case you fancy trying to grab one pre-owned, it’s powered by the ETA 2836-2 movement and was first produced in 1997.
There are other watches throughout the Sopranos of course; even if he didn’t get an Oris, Christopher had a penchant for Cartier, sporting a Pasha, Roadster and Tank Francaise. Tony’s Rolex Day-Date gets plenty of screen time and The Crown cropped up on a few other characters through the series.
But for my money, Oris wearing the product placement on their sleeve and getting some screen time with Sir Ben Kingsley in the process? That’s incredibly cool. It’s not a blink and you miss it moment; it’s a leave the room to get popcorn and catch the tail end. Compared to Cartier and Rolex, Oris are tiny – even more so back in the early 2000s and honestly, it’s not a scene I remembered until taking a winter-centric run down my memory lane of TV.
And if you don’t now have Alabama 3’s Woke Up This Morning in your head, there’s something wrong with you. Discover the watches worn by other iconic villains here.