Wes Anderson isn’t just a name, but a genre unto himself. The man at the helm of 10 feature films, and a handful of commercials and shorts, has perfected an aesthetic that has since been mimicked countless times over the years. His first three films – Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, and The Royal Tenenbaums – captured lightning in a bottle. Each one represented a further shaping of the artfully stylized Wes Anderson look, which is descended from Fellini and the French New Wave. The writing was fresh, and decidedly original. It was Wes.
But to give Anderson sole credit would be to leave a very important piece out of the equation. That would be Owen Wilson. So many of us remember him exploding onto the scene opposite Jackie Chan in Shanghai Noon or Ben Stiller in Zoolander as a wily, handsome, and humorous force of nature. But he wasn’t just a pretty face that could make audiences laugh. Look at the writing credits for those first three Anderson films and you’ll find Wilson’s name right there next to Anderson’s. The two met at the University of Texas Austin and proceeded – along with Owen’s brother, Luke – to change the independent movie scene forever, and in turn, thrust it into the mainstream.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) co-stars Owen Wilson but it also serves as a real turning point in the Wes Anderson canon. That’s because it’s the first film not co-written by Wilson. This movie was probably the worst-received of any Anderson-directed feature when it hit theaters, and I’ll admit I had it down at the bottom of my rankings for years. Compared to The Royal Tenenbaums, this film just feels over the top. It lacks a certain emotional weight to ground the surrealism.
Whether or not this is your favorite Anderson picture, I do think time has done well for The Life Aquatic and I absolutely feel that it holds up to a rewatch. For me, it wasn’t until the second go-round that I noticed a pair of very cool (and very different) 1:1 luxury replica watches worn by Bill Murray and Owen Wilson on-screen. It’s a Swiss and Russian watch party on today’s edition of Watching Movies.
Why We’re Watching
After a long delay, Anderson’s hotly anticipated The French Dispatch, a sprawling episodic movie about a New Yorker-esque magazine in France, is finally here. It, too, has Bill Murray and Owen Wilson on the marquee … among a host of other stars in the ensemble cast.
But let’s turn our attention back to 2004. The Life Aquatic is centered around Zissou, a Jacques Cousteau caricature (down to the outfit), who loses his longtime creative partner – and best friend – Esteban (Seymour Cassel) in a freak shark attack caught on film. In his quest to avenge his friend’s death, he meets his long lost son, Ned (played by Wilson). The two, along with the rest of the blue-suited, red-cap-wearing Zissou crew, set out on a ship called the Bellafonte in search of the elusive (and likely non-existent) Jaguar Shark.
On the wrists of Wilson and Murray for this ocean-bound adventure, are two Canada AAA fake watches on the high and low end of the tool watch spectrum, both with enough water resistance to handle the waves.
I once read a story about Murray in the Matt Hranek book, A Man and His Watch. The story was from Dimitri Dimitrov, the maître d’ at the Sunset Tower hotel in L.A, who recounted the time Murray gave him the Timex off his wrist so that he could tell the time in the darkness when greeting customers at the restaurant. Of course Murray wears a Timex. It’s just too perfect.
I bring this up because his sense of no-frills style bleeds into this film. As captain and commander of both ship and documentary film crew, Zissou doesn’t mimic Cousteau when it comes to wrist-wear. You won’t find a high quality Rolex replica watches or Doxa. Instead, his choice is a comically inexpensive Russian watch on a dive-style rubber strap. Many of you probably already know that I am talking about the Vostok Amphibia.
A hallmark of this watch is, of course, the text … in Russian … on the dial. Unlike the Swiss, they don’t try to make us feel better by using English. Vostok Amphibia divers come in all manner of colors, bezel styles, and even bracelets. But the Zissou watch looks to be a certain black dial variant with a steel bezel featuring black and red markings, a crown at three o’clock, a black rubber strap, and a giant wooden ship helm printed near 12 o’clock. This particular Amphibia is sometimes referred to as the “Sea Captain.” To be honest, the perfect copy watches feels like it was made to be in a Wes Anderson movie. In the film, Murray’s Zissou wears his for the entirety of the runtime, even with a tuxedo.
It’s his son Ned (who later goes by Kingsley), a commercial pilot for a regional airline out of Kentucky, who really brings the horological goods with cheap fake Rolex “Pepsi” GMT-Master II watches. This is also one of those moments where you have to tip your hat to Anderson and the props team for the choice of wristwear. The story is well-known now, but back in the 1950s, the top Rolex GMT Master replica watches was released. The watch was designed in conjunction with Pan Am in an effort to make a legible watch with multiple time zone capability for the pilots to wear while flying. The result was the now famous Pepsi bezel GMT – which is precisely what Wilson’s Ned wears in the film.
Now of course, his is not a vintage model. He wears wholesale replica Rolex GMT-Master II 16710 watches with the red and blue bezel on an Oyster bracelet. It’s the last reference before the Crown redesigned the entire GMT line and halted production of Pepsi models for more than half a decade.
From a character perspective, it is great to see that the choice of wristwatch not only matches Ned’s profession, but is the exact kind of replica watches online shop – from the more romantic days of airline travel – that we would want (and maybe expect) to see in a Wes Anderson picture.
When We’re Watching
In a montage that only Anderson could create, we watch Zissou’s crew begin a training regimen that involves aerobic exercise, beach running, explosives training, topless reading, and scuba diving. As the song “Gut Feeling” by Devo plays overtop, we see Ned with an oxygen tank on his back, checking the GMT-Master II on his wrist [00:37:18]. As he does, the camera gives the Rolex fake watches for sale an intense closeup. It even follows Wilson’s arm as he fits a scuba mask to his face and we get a nice glimpse of the bracelet and clasp, as well. Of course, moments later we find him lying on the ground, in need of CPR (he survives, don’t worry) and the camera gives us another great shot of the watch [00:37:50].
There’s an almost emotional scene near the end of the film where Zissou meets with his ex-wife Eleanor (Anjelica Huston) to discuss Ned, and come to grips with him actually being his son. He expresses his feelings to Eleanor as if she were his therapist, and then glances down at his hand only to find a neon yellow lizard resting there. As the camera gives us this top down view of the lizard, we see, just out of focus, the Vostok with its recognizable helm motif printed on the dial [01:16:03]. Moments later, he flicks the lizard as if it were a mosquito. So much for that moment, but at least we saw the Swiss movements super clone watches.