How Succession Sourced the Perfect Watches for Its Absurdly Rich Characters
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Typically, the creation of a costume, especially one for a prestige drama series like HBO’s Succession, involves many, many hands—even if it’s just to get something on a character’s wrist. There are costume directors, prop masters, and even fat documents from Hodinkee editors (more on that later!) required to help make that decision. Unless, of course, you are Jeremy Strong. Because if you are the infamous method-acting Strong, you simply let the essence of your character Kendall Roy soak into your very marrow until the correct wristwatch is sucked into your orbit.
“Loro Piana sent me a one-of-one jacket that I wore this season, and Jerome Mage made me a pair of sunglasses for Kendall, and Amanda Mille, who runs the Richard Mille company [her title is brand and partnerships director], gave me a watch to wear for Kendall,” Strong told GQ’s Gabriella Paiella. Which is why, as Strong prepped for the penultimate episode of Succession—in which Kendall attends his father’s funeral—he realized he had the opportunity to do the funniest thing ever… and he took it. Strong has worn that aforementioned Richard Mille, the perfect watch for a character who constructed a tiny town with a “VIP treehouse” for his 40th birthday, throughout the fourth and final season of Succession. RM makes the world’s most ostentatious sport watches, the type of thing to show off on a yacht or private jet. Naturally, Kendall would think it was the ideal complement to his black mourning suit.
Not all of the show’s cast members are lucky enough to broker a deal with a Richard Mille executive, though. Most of the watches in Succession are chosen carefully by prop master Monica Jacobs, who works closely with the costume director and actors to land on their pieces. “I like to sit down with each cast member and talk through what they see for themselves, and then what I've sort of picked out for them,” she told Esquire. “With the actors who care about watches it's a few emails back and forth first, and then we'll meet in person and actually try things on.”
Jacobs, who said she wasn’t always the biggest watch nut, isn’t doing it entirely on her own, however. For the fourth season, the show tapped Danny Milton, the managing editor at watch site Hodinkee, to help inform the watches for characters like Cousin Greg and the bumbling PR duo Karolina and Hugo. Milton’s work on Succession speaks volumes about how seriously the show treats these decisions: he drafted multi-page documents detailing the personalities of every character, and then provided a list of potential watches for each.
That process is how Cousin Greg ended up with a Rolex “Pepsi” GMT this season. “They wanted a Rolex for him,” Milton told me over the phone. Succession viewers will know that Greg already owned a Rolex Submariner that he wildly overpaid a dealer for after Kendall pressured him to upgrade his wristwear. “So I had a sense of his character being into modern Rolex,” Milton said. “My mind immediately just went to Pepsi GMT on a Jubilee bracelet.” Milton also suggested a ceramic Daytona, but the Succession team knew instantly that the GMT was the one. “I remember them saying, ‘That's the one he wants, please send that one as soon as you possibly can.’” (“In Hollywood,” Milton added, “it's all very fluid and everything is last minute. So everything's like a fire drill.”)
And although Hugo and Karolina aren’t Succession’s biggest stars, their watches are chosen with just as much care. Hugo wore a Panerai Luminor throughout the show’s earlier seasons. When Milton came aboard, he initially suggested options like a Breitling, an IWC Spitfire Chronograph, and a Tudor Black Bay 58. In the end, they came back to Panerai with a less obvious, statement-making Radiomir. For a character that works behind-the-scenes and has to deal with the underbelly of PR,” Milton says, “he is somebody that thinks a bit differently than everybody else. He would zag when it comes to what Panerai he would choose.” According to Milton, Fisher Stevens—the actor who plays Hugo—loved the watch so much he started to wear it off set..
That’s barely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Succession’s nonstop parade of dream watches. IWC supplied many of the watches for Roman, Frank, and Greg, who showed off quite the collection in season four. Shiv Roy wore Cartier throughout much of Succession’s run—a habit that rubbed off on her ex-husband Tom Wambsgans while they were together—but has been spotted in Zenith and Chopard during this latest season.
Speaking to Milton, it’s clear how much care goes into selecting the watches for every one of these characters. “They're really maniacally thoughtful about these things,” he said, and those choices often pay dividends from a storytelling standpoint. Take, for instance, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph that Wambsgans began wearing this season. That detail alone tells an eagle-eyed watch enthusiast everything they need to know about the character. “It’s just so on point with his finicky wine taste, his outward love of his luxury lifestyle, and his desire to never give that up,” Milton said.
As Succession has vaulted into the pantheon of prestige dramas, it has simultaneously created a time capsule of what it was like to be disgustingly rich and power hungry in the 2020s. A major part of what has made the show great is its ability to accurately depict the way its ultra-rich characters live and dress, to the point that it’s able to popularize terms like “stealth wealth.” Getting those characters’ watches exactly right, then, was crucial. Years from now, when people wonder what watch a pompous heir would’ve worn to his father’s funeral in 2023, they’ll be able to turn on Succession and get a credible answer.
Originally Appeared on GQ