In 1986 I was only 10 years old when the cult movie, “The Color of Money” was released. I was recently on HBO NOW searching for a good movie to watch and I came across it and I was like , yup this is it!
The first thing I noticed immediately was in one of the opening scenes. Paul Newman was dressed smartly and had on his wrist a 36mm Rolex Datejust with a silver stick dial, on an Jubilee bracelet and polished bezel. I realized at that moment that even though the watch is small by my standards, it’s completely iconic, timeless and an important part of pop culture. It looked as good then as it looks today and is completely recognizable. Just when I thought I could be wrong, there was a scene where Paul Newman hands the watch to Tom cruise to time something. The camera pulls a close up of the watch and my suspicions were infact right on!
What makes this watch unique, especially for that time and still today is its configuration. Typically this watch would be configured the same as you see above but it would be fitted with an 18kwg fluted bezel instead of a polished smooth bezel. The 18k white gold bezel would have matched the stainless steel Jubilee bracelet much better because it’s got several cuts in the bezel that mimic parts of the bracelet. Typically a smooth bezels goes with an oyster bracelet and 18kwg fluted bezels go with Jubilee bracelets. That is sort of the unwritten rule. So by that design the watch sticks out a little more than usual at least to me.
This Rolex got as much screen time as some of the actors but played a more of subtle yet impactful part of the story. Paul Newman portrays a wealthy pool hustler teaching his student played by Tom Cruise. The watch showed more of a class and society thing than the Cadillac in the movie he drove. It didn’t have to say a word. I am pretty sure at that time this Datejust retail was around $2500-$3000. Today the current version of this watch retail is $6,700 which is over two and a half times the original price in 30 years.
Even though they look pretty much the same, the datejust worn in the movie, “The Color of Money” and the current version are very different. The new one has an in-house movement while the stick markers and hands are luminescent. The case and bracelet are stamped out of a solid piece of 904 L stainless steel. The clasp on the newer version is hidden while the clasp on the older version was a lot flimsier and not as refined. On a totally unrelated side note: I totally forgot that music genius, Iggy Pop made a cameo role in this movie- Super Cool!
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