Cinema has the power to bring history to life and to explore every possible future, both collective and individual.
Like a Rolex watch, cinema is ingrained with our memories and aspirations, it is a witness to our ambitions and determination to overcome any obstacle we may find along our way.
More than simply 24 frames per second, or 24 hours within a day, it embodies the very essence of our emotions.
Rolex has always maintained close ties with the world of cinema, its watches having graced the wrists of legendary characters in numerous films, including multiple Oscar-winning masterpieces, and today through its support of artistic and technical excellence in filmmaking.
Writing history side by side
In 1926, the founder of Rolex, Hans Wilsdorf, invented a revolutionary waterproof wristwatch which made headlines, the Oyster.
Just months later, audiences marvelled at The Jazz Singer, the first feature-length movie with synchronised dialogue.
These two moments in time signalled the arrival of both modern filmmaking and modern watchmaking.
In 1931, Rolex introduced another visionary breakthrough in the Oyster Perpetual – the first waterproof, automatic winding wristwatch, equipped with a Perpetual rotor.
Meanwhile, cinema saw colour make its big-screen debut, and from then on, Rolex and cinema would always resonate with the times.
On and off screen
Decade after decade, Rolex watches have been worn onscreen, with actors and directors, in turn, reflecting on the watch, bestowing it with their own charisma and flair.
But after being a guest star on their wrists, both in front and behind the camera, Rolex would soon take on a starring role.
In 2017 two major events would cement the longstanding association between Rolex and the film industry.
Firstly, director Martin Scorsese joined filmmaker James Cameron as a Rolex Testimonee, and that same year, the brand sealed its partnership with the film industry’s highest authority, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The Academy’s missions are to promote excellence in film and preserve its legacy for future generations, to spark the imagination and to celebrate cinema’s universal values.
This long-term partnership celebrates the convergence of the values shared by Rolex and the motion picture arts.
Rolex became the Exclusive Watch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Proud Sponsor of the Oscars and Exclusive Sponsor of the Governors Awards.
Rolex is also a Founding Supporter of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures which opened in Los Angeles in September 2021.
A celebration of long-standing contributions to film
The Governors Awards, which mark the beginning of the Oscars season, honour the great names of cinema, presented in recognition of a lifetime of achievements.
As such, the awards capture the spirit of the partnership between Rolex and cinema by rewarding individuals with a long career, who showed constant dedication to their artistic vision and have an enduring body of work.
One of three Governors Awards, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, presented to a personality within the film industry who has set an example through their support of a humanitarian cause.
Actor Danny Glover took home the 2021 award, for his decades-long advocacy for justice and human. Previous winners include Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Paul Newman, Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie and Geena Davis.
The 2021 Honorary Awards, given for lifetime achievements, went to actress Liv Ullmann; screenwriter, filmmaker and actress Elaine May and actor Samuel L. Jackson.
They join such illustrious predecessors as Charlie Chaplin, Spike Lee, Jean-Luc Godard, Lauren Bacall, Kirk Douglas, Sidney Poitier, Sophia Loren and composer Lalo Schifrin.
The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award has, since1937, been periodically presented to “creative producers whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production.” (It was not given in 2021)
Previous winners include Walt Disney, Cecil B. DeMille, Alfred Hitchcock, Ingmar Bergman, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and Clint Eastwood. In 2019 Kathleen Kennedy became the first woman to receive the award, jointly with her husband.
Exploring film, filming exploration
Multiple Oscar-winning director James Cameron has never put aside his other passion, exploration, and his two facets are woven together in each of his exploits and films.
Twenty-three years after The Abyss, he descended alone to the bottom of the Mariana Trench – at a depth of 10,908m – inside the Deepsea Challenger, a submersible of his own design.
With Titanic in 1997, he transformed our collective image of a rusting ship carcass on the floor of the North Atlantic Ocean into that of a newly launched behemoth cutting through the waves off Southampton.
Four years later, he dove 3,700m to the wreck site of the original Titanic, to film a documentary, Ghosts Of The Abyss.
From remarkable dives to 3D reconstructions, Cameron endlessly pushes the boundaries of human, technical and artistic achievement.
A towering figure of cinema
The films of Martin Scorsese have conquered audiences worldwide, his 26 feature films winning multiple awards.
One of the defining elements of Scorsese’s work is the remarkable attention he pays to each stage of production, whether working alongside screenwriters to craft deeply nuanced characters, choosing the score that will lend each scene its particular colour or recreating the mood of a given era.
His fluency in the language of film combines with his capacity to create an atmosphere on-set that gives actors the confidence to improvise.
This eclectic and humanist director has explored every genre, from period movies to thrillers, from noir to musicals and psychological dramas.
Passing on filmmakers’ art
Believing that it is essential for excellence to be passed from one generation to the next, Rolex has established a programme of artistic mentoring, in which promising young artists can benefit from the guidance and experience of great artists in their field.
Since 2002, eight of the 58 Mentor and Protege duos have been in film.
Each protege is a young talent whose work has been scouted widely, and the mentors have all received at least one Oscar nomination.
They are Mira Nair, Stephen Frears,
Martin Scorsese, Walter Murch, Zhang Yimou, Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro G. Inarritu and Spike Lee.Keeping film legacy aliveRolex supports The Film Foundation, a non-profit organisation established in 1990 by Scorsese that is dedicated to protecting and preserving motion picture history.
Conscious of the need to preserve this fragile legacy, Scorsese was joined by seven prominent filmmakers, Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas, Sydney Pollack, Robert Redford and Steven Spielberg, and later, Robert Altman and Clint Eastwood.
Working in partnership with archives institutions and studios, the foundation has helped to restore over 900 films, made accessible to the public through programming at festivals, museums, and educational institutions around the world.
Its World Cinema Project celebrates the rich diversity of world cinema and has restored 47 films from 27 different countries, and the foundation’s free educational curriculum, The Story of Movies, teaches young people about film language and history.