It’s not typical to hear about a new Adam Sandler movie these days—let alone Oscar buzz surrounding the actor’s performance in said movie. However, his latest role in the film Uncut Gems unearths his raw talents in one of the best crime dramas of the 2010s (made it just in time). Set in 2012, the story involves a jeweler who has his whole life tied up with gambling debt. Trying to stay on top of his network of half-truths, seedy bets, and flat-out lies, he faces an onslaught of both horrible lows and incredible highs during the film. All through this roller-coaster ride of emotions and precarious debauchery—there are timepieces.
Like most high-end jewelry businesses, Howard Statler’s (Sandler) operation carries luxury pieces. It would be easy to assume he has a few Patek Philippe watches in stock, maybe some rare celebrity timepieces as well. His business is at the heart of the Diamond District in NYC, after all. But the true star of the film when it comes to watches is Rolex. Why not? It’s a buzzworthy watch associated with quality—and an easy sell when your primary business is fine gems and jewelry. As it goes, Statler uses his watches to deal with debts at a few different points in the film. Ahead we’re going to highlight a couple of moments where his best bargaining chip is a luxury wristwatch.
Paying Back What’s Owed
To fuel his gambling addiction, Howard Statler uses a few different tricks. His favorite is to pawn other people’s property. Throughout the film there are plethora questions for Howard, “do you still have my chain?”, “do you still have my watch?”, and of course “where’s my money?”. Being a keen weasel-type swindler, he frequently talks himself out of this gauntlet of inquiries quite masterfully. When he’s backed into a corner, however, he proves that he doesn’t have the stones or the cash to make good on his debts.
The first time Statler can’t talk his way out of something is with a pair of ex clients. Each of these older Jewish men ask for a direct payment—but Statler has something else in mind. Instead of paying the gentlemen back he hands them a “Rolex” from his personal safe. Statler’s hollow promises shine through in this purported $50,000 piece, much to the despair and anger of his former clients.
Violence is involved in the second wristwatch exchange in the film. We were a bit too enthralled by the action to catch the brand/make. As well, the chaos of a very mafia-esque beat-down hides the dial of Statler’s piece in the scene. To make the long of it short—in trying to keep spoilers out of the equation as much as possible—Howard Statler’s watch is taken off of his person as a temporary form of payment. It’s a neat bit of narrative callback to old gangster movies and plays well into the narrative of Statler’s luxurious facade falling apart. Repeatedly concealing the truth, Statler sometimes gets away with theft—and does a good job of seeming wealthy by carrying a nice wristwatch. That being said, he doesn’t always get away with it.
More than Rolex to Come
Box office watches are a favorite for us to cover here at Times Ticking. After seeing A24 Studio’s Uncut Gems, we’re pretty sure it’s worthy of another watch. An important note: This film is certainly not for a younger audience. Those who are alright with a darker narrative (and a lot of cursing) in a film will find something worthwhile—containing horological components within its storytelling. Much like a raw, uncut gemstone, the film’s impact is beautifully untamed (though at times stress inducing). Because of its pace, it will be nice to return to it and pick apart the individual timepieces that were featured throughout Uncut Gems. Until then, we’ll make sure to keep ourselves out of trouble.
Times Ticking has been in operation for more than 30 years, since 1982. We have performed watch repair for customers both locally and internationally. If it Ticks! We KNOW it! Our team of watch repair technicians have a combined experience in watchmaking of over 120 years.