Watches on the Screen: I Am Legend

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It’s the end of the world due to a man-made virus that turns humans into vampire-like creatures. As far as you know, you are the only living human left due to your immunity to the virus, and it’s up to you to find a cure.

Movie: I Am Legend (2007)

Carrying a movie mostly by yourself is never easy, ask Tom Hanks (see Cast Away). Will Smith took on that challenge with 2007’s post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film, “I Am Legend.” Smith plays Robert Neville who is the last (as far as he knows) living human due to an incurable, man-made virus. As a scientist Neville was rushing to find a cure when Manhattan was evacuated and essentially shut down with Nevelle still on the island. He spends the next three years alone (save his canine companion) working on a cure for the virus using his own immune blood. The only problem is the 588 million infected, the Darkseekers.

The virus mutated those that lived into vampire-like creatures: they hate the light, they are very primal and they enjoy feasting on living flesh. Smith and his German shepherd Sam spend the first bit of the film just surviving. His home has been turned into a fortress and his basement a lab where he works on the cure. To facilitate his research Neville has been capturing the infected to test his cures which prove to be ineffective. Each day he broadcasts a message over and over from the same location in the hopes that someone else is out there and will hear him. After Sam is bitten by one of the infected and Neville is forced to put him down, Neville goes on a rampage attacking a band of the Darkseekers with his Ford Expedition equipped with UV lights. Neville is quickly overwhelmed by the infected and nearly killed, but is rescued by two immune survivors who had heard his transmissions and sought him out.

After taking him home and treating his wounds the pair, Anna and a young boy Ethan, tell him they are making their way to a survivors camp in Vermont. Neville believes the camp does not exist and is doubtful of their plan to make it there. Unfortunately, in taking Neville home to recover Anna left a trail for the Darkseekers to follow and they attack the house. After retreating into the lab and sealing themselves in a plexiglass chamber they discover that Neville’s latest attempt at a cure is working, the female Darkseeker in the room is reverting to a more human form. Neville gives Anna a vial of the infected woman’s blood as she and Ethan escape out the back of the chamber. Neville then detonates a grenade killing himself and the group of Darkseekers to allow Anna and Ethan to escape. Anna and Ethan arrive at the survivors’ colony, where Anna hands over the antidote. Anna later states that the survivors are Neville’s legacy, as his fight for a cure became legend.

Watches: Swiss Army Victorinox 25077 Sportech 4000 & Hamilton Khaki X-Wind

The watches in the movie are both interesting for different reasons. As the Darkseekers cannot go out in sunlight it is vital for Neville to know when sunrise and sunset occur each day so he can insure his safety back at home. This is where the Victorinox 25077 comes in. Each day he ventures out Smith’s character consults a Farmer’s Almanac for that date and sets the alarm on his Victorinox to allow himself enough time to get back home before sunset. A wise idea given the danger presented to him after dark. Batteries for the watch would not be too much of an issue at first, it would just take obtaining them from a vacant store. He could have a stock-pile on hand to last him some time, the only question being how long the batteries stay fresh. Many will last up to 10 years which gives him quite a window before he has that problem. That is the first watch which he wears on his left wrist. The second watch, obviously worn on his right wrist, is a mechanical rather than quartz watch.

Neville also wears a Hamilton Khaki X-Wind automatic chronograph on his right wrist. It is visible briefly in a scene where Neville injects himself with his serum. The X-Wind has a ETA 7750 movement with a 12 hour chronograph and day of the week and date. The bezel is used for drift-angle calculations for pilots, allowing them to calculate and record crosswinds. Another feature that makes the watch intresting is the flipped dial: the day and date are on the left of the dial at 9 o’clock rather than at the 3 o’clock as normally seen. As such the seconds sub-dial is swapped to the 3 o’clock position. The pushers and crown are flipped as well and are on the left side of the case. This places the crowns to control the bezels on the right making it easier to access that feature (assuming you wear your watch on the left wrist). I am not sure why the second watch for this character as it does not seem to serve any function that Neville would need. My guess is that it acts as a back-up; being mechanical it will not suddenly stop while he is out in the daylight as a quartz watch might if the battery dies. If he had a set time he was going to be out the chronograph on the X-Wind could be used to time himself so that, even if the Victorinox did go out, he would still arrive home safely. What is interesting about the second watch is how it was promoted before the film.

In a press release the watch that was to be worn by Will Smith was the Hamilton Khaki Sunset. While the name implies a feature that Neville needed, the time of the sunset, the Khaki Sunset provides the time of the sunset on the 15th of each month in six different cities. This poses two problems: the 15th is one day out of the month and when you are venturing out daily that one day is less useful. You could use it as a reference and depending on the time of year know if you had more or less time than shown. The second problem is that New York is not one of the six cities. London, Gander, Los Angeles, Nadi, Manilla and Muscat are the cities used on the Sunset, which does limit ones options a bit. Who ever made the change from the Sunset to the two watches used made a smart one from a usefulness standpoint. I am not sure if someone was really paying attention to how the Sunset would not have been useful for the character or it was other circumstances, either way Robert Neville ended up with two great choices of watches to help him navigate his world.

Residing in North Idaho, James has been wearing a watch for over 35 years. With growth of the internet in the late 90s watches as an interest turned into an obsession. Since that time he has been a watch forum moderator, watch reviewer, contributor to Nerdist, and operates Watches in Movies in his spare time.
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