Watch collectors are different. While most people watch movies for entertainment, for escape, or even for information, a “watch guy” may watch an entire movie for the sake of identifying the various watches worn by members of the cast. Of course there are the famous ones, the watches worn by James Bond, Sylvester Stallone and the high-profile Hollywood ambassadors, but the “sightings” are also fun . . . spotting Lady Gaga in her Casio Baby-G or Jerry Seinfeld in a vintage Heuer Autavia (in place of his usual Breitling).
And so, with the release of the movie Moneyball on Friday, September 23rd, the “watch watchers” — and Brad Pitt watchers — will soon ask the question, “What watch is Brad Pitt wearing in Moneyball?”.
With Pitt taking in role of the general manager of a baseball team, and often wearing a short-sleeve shirt, we can expect the watch to get lots of screen-time. But this watch will not be a mystery — I identified the watch for the property master soon after Pitt selected it on the first day of shooting and then provided the property master with three watches that would be the “back-ups” for Brad. Though this watch may be somewhat difficult to identify on the screen, I can tell you with absolute certainty that it is a TAG Heuer Kirium, Reference WL1113, made by TAG Heuer in the late 1990s.
The Story of Moneyball. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game is a book by Michael Lewis, published in 2003, about the Oakland Athletics baseball team and its general manager, Billy Bean. Under Billy Beane’s leadership, the Oakland A’s sought to build a competitive baseball team, even though the team had an annual budget that was far smaller than those of other teams. Management of the A’s believed that by dismissing traditional approaches to scouting and evaluating players, in favor advanced statistics and new approaches, they could build a competitive team, on a small budget. Beane is the genius behind the Oakland A’s, and he works tirelessly to develop a wining team comprised of cast-offs, low round draft choices and players who might not be valued by traditional managers.
The Story of Brad Pitt’s Watch. On the first day of shooting (in July 2010), the property master for Moneyball presented Brad Pitt with three choices of watches to wear for the movie. Two of the watches were from the property master’s own supply of watches; the third watch was the TAG Heuer Kirium. That morning, the property master had spotted this Kirium on the wrist of a crew member, and she thought that it might appeal to Brad Pitt. She borrowed the Kirium from the crew member, included it among the choices for Pitt, and — as fate would have it — the Kirium was the one chosen by Pitt.
In this era of corporate sponsorships and brand ambassadors, it’s refreshing that Brad Pitt actually chose a watch that had been taken off the wrist of a crew member, just a few hours earlier. It turns out that the Kirium is “period correct”, with the watch produced in the late 1990s being perfect for a story that focused on the 2002 baseball season. The Kirium seems like exactly the kind of watch that Billy Beane might have worn — the watch is sporty looking, and seems rugged enough to have done well playing catch or even during a visit to the weight room.
The TAG Heuer Kirium. The Kirium, Reference WL1113, was produced by TAG Heuer in the late 1990s, as part of its Profesional series. The version worn by Brad Pitt has a midnight blue dial, Mercedes-style hands (often used on divers watches), and a unidirectional rotating bezel, marked for minutes. The watch measures approximately 40 millimeters across the widest part of the case, and approximately 37 millimeters across the narrowest part. With the outer edge of the bezel measuring 34.5 mm, and the crystal / dial measuring approximately 26 mm, the dial itself appears relatively small. The Kirium is waterproof to 200 meters. A distinctive feature of the watch is its integrated stainless steel bracelet, with 20 millimeter links all around. Though the dial and hands are somewhat small, the wide case and rock-solid bracelet give the Kirium a very strong, secure feel on the wrist.
The Perfect Watch for Billy Bean. Though it was somewhat by chance that Brad Pitt ended up wearing the TAG Heuer Kirium watch in Moneyball, the watch was a perfect choice for the role. Like the Oakland A’s baseball team, the Kirium is a relatively low-budget watch, and will surely stay under the radar of the big-money teams. Still, the Kirium is a good looking, reliable watch and the one that I have worn over the 14 months has been accurate to within 70 seconds over this period . . . strong performance for a 12 year-old watch purchased second-hand for $500. With their huge payrolls, the Yankess, Red Sox and Phillies may represent the high-dollar watches, but this little TAG Heuer Kirium will outperform many of them, at a fraction of the cost. It may not win the World Series, but you can count on it to make the play-offs!
My “Role” in Moneyball. The day after Brad Pitt selected the TAG Heuer Kirium, the property master of the movie embarked on the task of securing back-ups for the watch, just in case something happened to the one that Brad was wearing. The prop master sent a photo of the watch to a production company; the production company contacted TAG Heuer; and TAG Heuer contacted me, as their local expert in vintage watches (or, more accurately, any of their watches that are no longer in production!!). I identified the watch as a Kirium, Reference WL1113, and proceeded to round up three of them for the prop master, finding them in the $400 to $500 range, from the usual internet sources.
I have enjoyed this watch over the past year, and hope that you have enjoyed reading this little piece of Hollywood and horological history.
Updated, September 24, 2011