What Can Cannes Teach Us About The Future Of Watches On The Red Carpet?

What Can Cannes Teach Us About The Future Of Watches On The Red Carpet?

The legendary film festival made its triumphant return to the Promenade de la Croisette. And the star’s watch choices have been just as intriguing as the films.

By Rhonda Riche

The Festival de Cannes, the most prestigious film festival in the world, wrapped up on July 17th. And while the pandemic still affected the event (attendees had to take several COVID-19 tests and were barred from screenings if testing positive), it was the film world’s biggest in-person event since January and February 2020.

Aside from the movies, Cannes is also a bellwether of glamor. After lockdowns and endless Zoom calls, civilians and stars alike have been anxious about how to dress for the brave new world. Watch enthusiasts who take red carpet watch spotting seriously have been craving opportunities to discover new timepiece trends.

Watchonista thought it would be fun to take a look at the wrist candy on the tapis rouge for a glimpse into the future of formal watches.

Thought Leaders

As glamorous as the Cannes Film Festival is, the Côte d’Azur is a fairly conservative place the rest of the year. Many of Cannes’ red carpet fashion dictates are informed by a surrounding community that presumes certain eveningwear norms of guests at the resort town’s hotels and casino. For men, a jacket and tie are standard. Women are expected to wear high heels and long dresses.

The unwritten rule of watches on the red carpet has also followed certain traditions: With a tux, you shouldn’t wear a watch; for slightly less-formal events, a simple time-only model is acceptable; and never wear a diver with a suit, for some examples.

When the legendary Spike Lee was announced as jury president for Cannes, film fans expected some surprises from the famously off-the-cuff director. And they were not let down when Lee prematurely announced thriller Titane as the Palme d’Or winner before the other prizes at the awards ceremony.

Sartorially speaking, at the opening press conference, Lee also spoke volumes. He wore a fuchsia suit designed by Virgil Abloh, Air Jordans (a nod to his Mars Blackmon character), a stack of beaded Afrocentric bangles on one wrist, and a customized Artisans de Genève watch with Rubber B exclusive rubber strap.

The takeaway: Just as there are more voices in film (Titane director Julia Ducournau is only the second female director in the festival’s history to receive the top honor), the gatekeepers of glamor are changing. In the currency of luxury, a stainless steel sports watch counts.

Eccentric Is In

But just as online screenings and hybrid award shows lacked the excitement of an in-person film festival, traditional dress watches lack the dazzle that we’ve been craving from the red carpet. So many celebrities found creative ways to get around the rules.

Take Bill Murray, for example. At the photocall for his film The French Dispatch, Murray wore a super casual “Dan Flashes” style shirt and shorts. The photos with castmates Tilda Swinton, Timothée Chalamet, and director Wes Anderson became the most meme-orable of the festival, with Murray double-wristing it in a steel Cartier Tank Solo – large model on a leather strap – and (reportedly) a Timex Easy Reader.

The takeaway: Technically, a photocall is more relaxed than the red carpet, but regardless, in the future, we think elegance is being true to your authentic self.

Beautiful People

While the awards portion of the Cannes Festival provides the prestige, the event has always had a tabloid-friendly quality to it. From Pia Zadora to softcore porn star Cicciolina, the paparazzi photographing sex symbols on the boardwalk was a sideshow to the more serious fare. But after the film world’s #MeToo reckoning, the famous-for-being-famous are posing for the cameras, not in scandalous outfits, but in over-the-top timepieces.

For example, model/actress/tabloid presence Bella Thorne was seen double-timing it at the amfAR Gala sporting a diamond-covered white and yellow gold Rolex Datejust and an all-diamond Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chrono Steel. Thorne’s male counterpart, Spanish model and actor Jon Kortajarena Redruello, was seen in a handsome Bulgari Octo Finissimo at the premiere of A Felesegam Tortenete/The Story Of My Wife.

The takeaway: Watches are sexy.

The New Wave

Australian film Nitram scooped one of the major awards at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday night, when the jury named American Caleb Landry Jones as best actor for his portrayal of Australian mass-murderer Martin Bryant. Landry Jones was so surprised and nervous that Lee had to accept the award on his behalf.

For the Cannes Film Festival’s premiere of the film, rising star Landry Jones chose to wear an iconic 42mm Girard-Perregaux Laureato in steel with a silver Clous de Paris dial. Again, while the Laureato is a classic, it is still refreshing to see some red carpet recognition for brands outside of the Rolex/AP/Cartier lineup.

The takeaway: Just as the old Hollywood tradition of having movie release events has been disrupted by the pandemic and streaming services, the people who style celebrities for the red carpet are also looking for timepieces that stand out from the crowd.

The New Normal

There were plenty of films in competition at Cannes this year that represented many weird and wonderful points of view. Take, for example, the musical Annette. It tells the story of a couple whose daughter is a puppet and features music and songs by the American cult band Sparks.

While we haven’t seen Annette yet, it stars Adam Driver, an actor with great range, so we trust that we will enjoy it. Driver is also a Breitling ambassador, so it makes sense that he wore the Super Chronomat B01 44 on the red carpet. Like Driver, this pilot’s watch has a lot of presence, and it’s not afraid to be its authentic self on the red carpet or the runway.

The takeaway: Because tastes and styles are evolving, the hidebound red carpet rules of pre-pandemic times must adapt or die. Eventually, every kind of watch will get its moment in the spotlight, as long as it’s innovative and interesting.

(Images sources mentioned)

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