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11 Iconic Wristwatches Worn by Robert De Niro in Movies

Rolex Sea-Dweller 1665: The Deer Hunter, 1978

Robert De Niro Rolex Sea-Dweller 1665 The Deer Hunter 1978

Robert De Niro needs no introduction. He’s the heavyweight champion of gangster films and thriller cinema thanks to a career working alongside other industry giants like Martin Scorsese and Al Pacino. While De Niro’s fame really took off in the 1970s, he started appearing in films in the mid-1960s, meaning he’s been a mainstay of the big screen for nigh on 60 years. It’s no surprise that in that time he’s worn more than his fair share of exciting wristwatches.

The 1978 film The Deer Hunter follows the stories of American soldiers coming to terms with life after the Vietnam war. De Niro was celebrated for his performance and the film received multiple Academy nominations, including Meryl Streep’s first ever nomination. On De Niro’s wrist is the Rolex Sea-Dweller 1665, a steel diver’s watch with 610m water resistance.

Rolex Sea Dweller 1665

It feels like an incredibly smart choice, combining the star reputations of De Niro and Rolex while also matching the robust specs of the Sea-Dweller with the tough environment of Vietnam. Although it’s arguable that the most famous watch featured in a film about the Vietnam war is the Seiko Captain Willard from 1979’s Apocalypse Now.

Bueche Girod & Piaget Polo: Casino, 1995

Robert De Niro Bueche Girod and Piaget Polo Casino 1995

Considering that the 1995 film Casino is set in the sweltering landscape of Las Vegas the choice to have Robert De Niro’s character, Ace, wear a Bueche Girod is inspired. Bueche Girod was a relatively small watchmaker – they’ve since disappeared – who earned a reputation for being a favourite of Las Vegas performers, almost exclusively because Frank Sinatra wore one. I’m sure I don’t have to spell it out but the connection between a wristwatch worn by Sinatra and a film about the mafia underworld is inspired.

The Bueche Girod isn’t De Niro’s only wristwatch in the film though, as he also wears a red dialled Piaget Polo. The Polo is a bright and brash watch in gold and ties into the eccentric style of De Niro’s character in the film. It’s a style that initially saw the film criticised for being a bit too kitsch, although it’s now celebrated for its costume and art direction.

Rolex Daytona?: 15 Minutes, 2001

Robert De Niro Rolex Daytona 15 Minutes 2001

At first glance it appears that Robert De Niro is rocking a panda dialled Rolex Daytona in the 2001 film 15 Minutes. However, you’ll note that I’ve left a question mark in the identification because there’s a rather large inconsistency that can’t be accounted for. The watch De Niro is wearing has no chronograph pushers, which means it physically cannot be a Daytona or a chronograph in the first place, despite clearly having a tri-compax display. This means it’s almost certainly a fake or replica designed to look like the more famous Daytona.

It’s not unheard of for the film industry to use fake watches, Jonah Hill wore a fake RM in Don’t Look Up, and to a certain extent it makes sense. Acting, as a career, is all about embodying a character and sometimes a character needs a certain type of watch that isn’t available to the production. Plus, having an actual vintage Daytona on set adds a heap of stress to the prop master. Sometimes, you just have to fake it until you make it.

Rolex Oyster: Showtime, 2002

Robert De Niro Rolex Oyster Showtime 2002

Showtime probably earns the award for worst film with the best wristwatch. The film itself is a humourless buddy cop flick that sees Robert De Niro playing opposite Eddie Murphy which is a partnership that, perhaps unsurprisingly, saw them nominated for the “Worst Screen Combo” Raspberry award. However, incongruously, on De Niro’s wrist is a vintage Rolex Oyster. It’s the predecessor of today’s Oyster Perpetual and has a similar aesthetic, sitting on the sportier side of dress watches. For a struggling police officer who is forced to take part in a reality TV program to keep his job, the question has to be asked, how did he get hold of such a cool watch?

Rolex Submariner 5513: Killer Elite, 2011

Robert De Niro Rolex Submariner 5513 Killer Elite 2011

Jumping forward from a 1978 film to 2011’s Killer Elite we see that Robert De Niro’s wristwatch is another Rolex. This time it’s a Submariner 5513, which aesthetically is very similar to the Sea-Dweller with it black dial and iconic diving style. Unfortunately, while the watch is great, the film is largely forgettable.

Breguet Classique 5197: Limitless, 2011

Robert De Niro Limitless 2011

2011’s Limitless might have a sci-fi twist but ultimately it’s a film about drugs and criminal deals, which is why De Niro is perfectly at home in his role as a corrupt finance tycoon. His wristwatch is perfectly suited to the character too, a Breguet Classique 5197BA in white gold. In many ways it’s similar to the JLC Memovox mentioned elsewhere in this article, as it’s a vintage style time and date dress watch with a highly legible dial, which makes it well suited to film.

Breguet Classique 5197

Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox: The Family, 2013

Robert De Niro Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox The Family 2013

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox has a history of appearing in crime films, having been worn by Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair in 1968. De Niro wears the watch in 2013 black comedy The Family, a film about a mafia family in the witness protection program. The vintage JLC, which is super classy with its retro time and date display, has only a small role in the film as De Niro’s family uses it to time one of his schemes.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox

Mathery-Tissot & Bulova: The Irishman, 2019

Mathery-Tissot and Bulova The Irishman 2019

At the time of its launch in 2019 we all complained about the The Irishman being an incredibly long film, but in retrospect it was an important film all the same, giving cinephiles something to dig their teeth into through the 2020 pandemic. On the wristwatch front, De Niro sports two watches during the 3.5 hour marathon, starting out with a retro Bulova before graduating to a Mathery-Tissot. You can check out our full thoughts on the watches in our dedicated Irishman breakdown here.

F.P. Journe Chronometre Bleu

F.P. Journe Chronometre Bleu

Stepping out of De Niro’s film roles, let’s take a look at a watch he wears in real life, the F. P. Journe Chronometre Bleu. F. P. Journe watches are incredibly popular for fusing a huge amount of class and elegance with haute horology, suiting the stylish and complex persona De Niro radiates in his work. He was spotted wearing the Chronometre Bleu during the promotional run up to 2017’s The Wizard of Lies. It’s a 39mm time only piece with a tantalum case and rose gold movement.

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.