Actor James Marsden has come a long way from his debut role on 90’s sitcom The Nanny, having since starred in top-grossing films including X-Men and Emmy-nominated shows such as 30 Rock and Westworld. And like his roles, his watch game has also evolved over the years from classic sports models to refined makes by the likes of IWC Schaffhausen.
In 2020, the actor became an official ambassador for the Swiss luxury watchmaker after his stylist, Ilaria Urbinati, placed an IWC watch on his wrist, sparking his newfound love for timepieces. Two years after starring in the watchmaker’s Born of a Dream short film alongside pro-footballer Tom Brady, Marsden stopped by the opening of IWC’s Palm Beach store opening this week to help unveil the brand’s “new look” and a special collection of haute horologerie.
While the configurator-crafted Ingenieur Chronograph he designed for the manufacturer in 2020 will not be available for purchase, you can expect to find 700 square feet of bestselling models on display at the new boutique for your own casual and formal occasions. Marsden hopped on a Zoom call with Robb Report, ahead of the Thursday night event, to talk his current watch collection, being a Ferrari fan and his love of stories behind a watch.
What watches intrigue you most? Tourbillions, dive watches, etc. And what is it about them you find fascinating?
Oh man, well, you just named them all I love them all. I really do. I love the specific functions of each watch. And I like a tool watch as much as I like something that’s meant to be for formal watches. It’s no date and goes with a tuxedo. So, I like styles of watches that go with whatever the application is, and whatever the activity is. And [the] care and love that went into crafting these watches and how infrequently they’re made.
Have you ever tried assembling a movement?
Actually, I was in Schaffhausen a few years ago and I took a watchmaking class with some of these experts there. I realized how painstaking it is and how expert these people’s hands are and how patient and meticulous it is. I believe it’s very specialized, takes time and care to create. When I toured the manufacturer, it was evident to me that these people are really, really gifted watchmakers, and it’s not something that I could learn overnight.
Six years ago, you mentioned that you owned roughly 20 watches. How many do you own today?
Most of those were probably plastic. So how many now? Not gonna say too many more than that, to be honest. I was never interested in having sort of anything that would look like they were to show off or it was like a status symbol. I have some really, really nice IWCs but you know, I also have watches that have stories behind them. My son and I shared a little Casio way back in the day, and it was like it had a story behind it.
Are you attending this year’s Watches & Wonders showcase?
I don’t think I’ll be able to, I think I’m gonna be busy working on some Sonic stuff this summer. But if my schedule frees up, you can count on me trying to get there for sure. You go to something like Watches & Wonders, you walk in these halls and it’s just like, you’re in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. And then you see all the fans of the collectors and we’re just, you know, eager to see what’s next and what sort of incredible complications are being worked on now. And so, to me, it just reminded me, one, about how strong my affection is for watches and two, just how universal that love is out there.
Which IWC model do you sport the most today on and off the red carpet?
Well, yeah, so my day-to-day watch is a 39-millimeter Spitfire pilot watch. There’s no such thing as a beater watch, but that’s the one I’m like, alright, yeah, we get a couple of knocks against the door. You know it’s built to take it and I wear it with me everywhere. So, that’s the one I wear the most day to day if I’m throwing on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. Going to a carpet or something, I’ll dress up a bit more. I have a black Portugieser chronograph. Yeah, I love that one.
At Robb Report, we hear you’re a Ferrari fan. What’s your favorite model and what do you think of the new Ferrari Purosangue?
I mean I’m a fan of theirs. I’m a racing fan of brands with great racing heritage. I was training with them [Ferrari] for a few weeks before Covid hit and I was doing some of their courses, [they] have loads of programs where you’re training to get your racing license, essentially. The 1960s Ferraris are the ones that I think are just the most gorgeous. And then some of the 250 GT whites. I’m also a fan of Mercedes, I can’t leave them out because they also have some great racing heritage as well.