Why “Don’t Look Up” Used a Fake $700K Watch Instead of the Real Thing

No, that isn’t a real Richard Mille on Jonah Hill's wrist

A Richard Mille RM 052 skull watch on a black background on the left, and Jonah Hill wearing a fake version of the timepiece in the movie "Don't Look Up" from 2021
Left: A $700,000 watch. Right: A replica of a $700,000 watch.
Richard Mille / Niko Tavernise via Netflix

Well before the release of Adam McKay’s star-studded Don’t Look Up, the movie was already getting mixed reviews — specifically from watch nerds. The first trailer showcased a number of A-list stars, from Leonardo DiCaprio to Meryl Streep, including one wearing what appeared to be a six-figure watch: Jonah Hill sporting an RM 052, a Richard Mille timepiece featuring a distinctive skull smack dab in the middle of the dial.

As GQ notes in an interview with Susan Matheson, the costume designer for Don’t Look Up, watch fans immediately called the bluff on the Richard Mille. This extravagant timepiece — produced in small numbers for such eccentric, well-heeled buyers as Post Malone — was obviously a fake. And Matheson confirmed that. 

This is hardly the first time a film has chosen to opt for a fake wristwatch over the real thing. In Kill Bill 2, Uma Thurman’s character looks at an obviously fake Rolex when taking a pregnancy test, purportedly because director Quentin Tarantino was “reflecting the pastiche elements of the film, where [Beatrix] Kiddo is the female antithesis of the suave, Bond-style, Rolex-wearing licensed killer,” as Tara Mulholland explained in The New York Times. Then there’s the infamous blooper in Spartacus where a character can be seen wearing a wristwatch in what is supposed to be the first century BC, which could be seen by some watch devotees as less egregious than using a fake timepiece altogether.

The counterfeit Richard Mille in Don’t Look Up is certainly not a gaffe, but it’s not part of the movie’s broader allegory, either. The reason for the replica was pure practicality. 

“It’s not a problem getting one of those [watches],” Matheson told GQ. “The problem is if the watch should get stolen while we’re shooting. I think those watches are worth north of $600,000.” Specifically, these reportedly start at $698,000

So why not simply pick a different watch? I’m sure there were plenty of brands that would have paid Netflix to be featured on Jonah Hill’s wrist or at least gifted a watch; Christopher Nolan provides the blueprint for this in his relationship with Hamilton. But according to the interview, it was Jonah Hill’s idea to wear this specific watch, so Matheson obliged. 

Don’t let this anecdote give you any ideas, though. Wearing a fake Richard Mille is all well and good when you’re playing a character in a movie, but you don’t want to get called out for wearing a replica in real life.

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