Enter the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and the Rolex Gallery
The highly anticipated Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has opened in Los Angeles. We examine the place in film history of one of its main supporters, Rolex, as well as the brand’s long-term commitment to the art of cinema.
The opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on September 30 marked a milestone in the history of cinema. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the last giants of the industry such as Walt Disney, Louis B Mayer, Mary Pickford and Gloria Swanson wanted the creation of such a museum. Now, finally, alongside other tributes to America’s contribution to the cinematic arts – including Universal Studios theme parks and a host of museums housing Hollywood costumes, props, posters and memorabilia – comes a institution that is fully up to the task.
Dedicated to the history, science and cultural influence of cinema, the Academy Museum is the first and largest of its kind in the United States. The 300,000 square foot campus stands proudly on the corner of Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. Its location is well placed to welcome visitors from around the world to experience exhibitions, screenings, programs and collections that shed light on the past, present and future of cinema.
Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, the museum was built over six years, with a budget that exceeds that of any blockbuster ever made. There are two buildings on site. The main one was a heritage landmark that underwent a major restoration and expansion to become the Saban Building, which houses six floors of state-of-the-art exhibition and event space, an Art House-style theater, an education studio, a conservation studio and public spaces. . Connected to it by a glass bridge, the new Sphere Building houses a 999-seat auditorium that is particularly spectacular with its domed top, on which a terrace offers a panoramic view that stretches from Westwood to the Hollywood Sign.
As Founding Supporter of the institution, Rolex has a permanent room on the third floor of the museum. Called the Rolex Gallery, it is an experiential space showcasing stories of cinema in which installations tell of the impact of technology, artists, history and societal issues on cinema. Also on display is the Cosmograph Daytona, owned by the late actor and racing enthusiast Paul Newman.
Rolex and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn’t formalize their relationship until 2017, when the Swiss brand became the exclusive watch and a proud sponsor of the Academy Awards. However, the old links of the watch manufacturer with the cinema are much older.
Strapped to the wrists of some of the biggest actors, Rolex watches have appeared in countless films in the past. At that time, actors wore the watches not for sponsorship reasons, but out of their own admiration for the brand, and the power and notion of success the watches brought to their roles.
For example, Marlon Brando wore a Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 1675 without its telescope Revelation now (1979). Although Newman is most closely associated with the Daytona, he put a stainless steel Datejust in The color of money (1986). In James Cameron’s epic Titanic (1997), Bill Paxton wore his own yellow gold Submariner as he descended to the famous wreck in a submersible.
Alec Baldwin had a Rolex Day-Date President on his wrist in Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), while Matthew McConaughey accessorized the Rolex Datejust in Martin Scorsese The wolf of Wall Street in 2013. As for Ryan Gosling, he wore the Rolex Bubbleback and a Submariner in 2011 Crazy, Stupid, Love. Clint Eastwood and Dustin Hoffman are also known for wearing their own Rolex watches in different movies.
Rolex says it has never – and will never – put a watch in a movie as product placement, although the brand clearly welcomes a director’s choice to use the brand to portray the courage of a particular character.
Today, Rolex continues to actively support filmmakers, whether established authors or emerging talents. He still maintains close ties with two leading figures in cinema, Scorsese and Cameron, and also leads the prestigious Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, which pairs young artists with masters in their discipline for creative collaborations. Scorsese has already mentored this program, as have directors Alfonso Cuarón and Spike Lee – demonstrating the commitment of Rolex and the masters of cinema to the pursuit of excellence and the development of the next generation of filmmakers.
This story first appeared in the December 2021 issue of Prestige Singapore.