Hamilton Oppenheimer BTS 1

Oppenheimer: Starring Hamilton

This Year’s Theatrical Work of Brilliance and the Starring Role of Hamilton Watches

Note: all images except for the Boulton were provided by Hamilton and Universal Pictures

The summer blockbuster season of 2023 is highlighted by three movies, with two taking center stage and the other trailing behind closely. Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer rises above Barbie and the newest installment of the Mission Impossible series as the intellectuals’ choice. Being the only non-fiction choice of the three and focusing on the theoretical physicist Julius Robert Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan won the hearts of intellectuals and nerds long before reviews of the movie went to print. Nolan’s choice of unique and bespoke 65 and 70-millimeter Kodak film stocks sent the hearts of film fans a flutter as the bridges of many eyeglasses were raised into their focused resting points by those who take delight in the finer things in life.

The focus of the intended audience of this website is the watches that were cast alongside the esteemed cast of the movie, and the familiar brand stepped into the role. Continuing their efforts in cinema and film, Hamilton watches scoured the collections of collectors and enthusiasts alike to cast the timepieces for the main characters appropriately. One of these watches was brilliantly cast, and we will explain how and why. These watches are period-correct timepieces, and another Hamilton watch, which is on sale today, played a very silent yet prominent role in the movie.

Hamilton CushionB Lexington Endicott lifestyle

Hamilton’s Starring Watches

The watches chosen for the movie were done deliberately and effectively throughout. Enthusiasts of timepieces will quickly note the historically correct fashion sensibilities of the time and that of thick dominant cuffs worn by men of the era. Watches make brief appearances as they peak through the cuff of an outstretched arm and, with a couple of exceptions, never take center stage. In all, by my rough estimation, there were one hundred sixty-six appearances of Hamilton’s watches throughout the movie. There were seven prominent and overt displays of a timepiece and, interestingly, five omissions where a wrist was left bare.

Lady Hamilton lifestyle

The most noticeable watch in the movie was worn by Emily Blunt, who wore it gracefully throughout most of her scenes in her role as the protagonist’s wife. Kitty Oppenheimer, her Lady Hamilton A2, accompanied while at home or helping her husband’s cause out in the field. Fiery, complex, steadfast, intelligent, and insightful, this rectangular-cased timepiece was the perfect choice for the powerhouse performance that Ms. Blunt put on display. Arguably playing the most demanding role in terms of sheer range, the Lady Hamilton was hard to miss and did its part in bringing the necessary sense of class and weight to the screen.

Hamilton Piping Rock lifestyle

Matt Damon’s performance of Lieutenant General Leslie Groves was also heralded as a strong performance by critics and fans alike. History buffs may have interjected at the lessoning of his role as the overall leader of the Manhattan Project, making way for Oppenheimer, who was more in charge of the operations at the Los Almos community laboratory in New Mexico, but this did not in any way diminish Mr. Damon’s presence throughout the entire movie. The audience occasionally gets small peaks of the two Hamilton watches on his wrist as they break through his heavy shirt cuffs. On more than one occasion, the ornate casework on his 1920s Hamilton Piping Rock can be seen briefly. The eye-catching floating oblong case counters modern military sensibilities in its complex approach. We are used to seeing Casio G-Shocks or field watches like those made by Marathon on the wrists of those who choose military service as their career. This contemporary expectation is dialed in with the Hamilton Military Ordinance timepiece from the 1940s. This watch has more of an unmistakable role on Mr. Damon’s wrist. Even at a diminutive 32 millimeters, the Ordinance stands on a solid footing on the wrist of the person overseeing one of the most consequential series of decisions for our species.

Hamilton Military Ordonance soldier

Oppenheimer himself can be seen wearing three Hamilton watches for the movie’s duration. Like Mr. Damon’s Piping Rock, Mr. Murphy’s watches appear subtly as they break through his dress cuff in pivotal moments. While reaching for an object, a point on a whiteboard, or his chin in a moment of deep thought, the Hamilton Cushion-B, Lexington, and the beautiful Endicott can all be seen. Most importantly, when referring to the all-important countdown, which was “an hour and fifty-eight minutes away,” Mr. Murphy raised his Hamilton to his face to denote the time. In real life, Oppenheimer had been photographed wearing many watches, and the film reflects this.

Oppenheimer Movie Still 4

Though these are the watches that Hamilton has drawn the most attention to with their work on the film, two other watches arguably played a more critical role. The good news is that one of them can be purchased today, and it is one of the most classically beautiful watches in Hamilton’s lineup today.

Hamilton CushionB lifestyle

Two Significant Hamilton Watches


This watch is, of course, the Boulton. This rectangular watch starred in the leading role in the recent Indiana Jones film with its gold-plated case. However, for Oppenheimer, the small and large Boulton in steel can be seen throughout the movie on many wrists. Most notably, while assembling the bomb, we see the watch in action as the scientists carefully do their delicate work. The Art Deco design of the Boulton makes it the perfect casting choice for American scientists during this period, and it is a watch you can purchase today. Available in quartz and automatic and various sizes and colors, it is all too easy to find the perfect Boulton for you. In my article about its role in the aforementioned Indiana Jones movie, you can read more about how the Boulton wears here.

Oppenheimer Movie Still 1

The most shining example of horological casting is Robert Downey Junior’s role of Lewis Strauss. Though the watch is mostly obscured, the bracelet and his matching ring are easily seen. The choice of this bracelet is a prime example of casting brilliance on the part of the wardrobe department. The tightly twisting bracelet mirrors Mr. Strauss’s internal struggles as he self-destructs, much like how the twisting roots of a Norwegian Red Maple tree slowly strangle itself over the decades. Highly polished and ornate, this bracelet goes a long way to further the cause of communicating the character’s concern with his reputation to the audience. With most of Mr. Downey Junior’s scenes being shot in the objective black and white film stock (the color film stocks were used for the scenes deemed to be personal), the exact model of this watch is not apparent to the audience. At best, I would venture a guess of this timepiece being a variant of the Hamilton Endicott, but I could very easily be incorrect.

Hamilton Endicott soldier

Final Thoughts

Exactly three hours long, the only indication of the movie’s length was the discomfort I felt in my rear end due to the theatre’s old seats. The movie’s tight focus, aided by strong thumping visuals as Oppenheimer gets glimpses into the subatomic world, keeps the film’s pace moving at a breakneck pace. It is this same intense focus that never lets the watches overplay their role and step onto the stage as they would have in real life.

When writing this article, the box office spoke clearly as Barbie surpassed the one-billion-dollar mark in ticket sales. Though Oppenheimer trails Margot Robbie’s blockbuster in sales, it does not in terms of cinematography and significance. Many had seen the Manhattan Project as the turning point at which humanity left its adolescence behind. The great level of care and dedication by Christopher Nolan for this work is sadly prescient today, for we humans have not left behind our carelessness and adolescence. This is especially true when it comes to the use of nuclear weapons. Only a few months ago, an invading nation threatened the rest of the world with tactical nuclear weapons if they crossed certain lines to support the nation it had invaded. Humanity’s dark days are not behind us, and the weight of the decisions made by our brightest many decades ago continues to haunt us every single day. For this reason, if you had to see one blockbuster this summer in the theatre, I would recommend Oppenheimer over the rest.

Check out the Oppenheimer movie website here

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