Raise your hand who wouldn't have wanted to empathize, even if only for a moment, in the shoes of Steve McQueen and the very rich gentleman thief Thomas Crown? The Thomas Crown Case is not simply a film, it is a photograph of a world, of an era that is certainly as fascinating as that of the 60s. Starting with the likes of Steve McQueen and the seductive Faye Dunaway, this cinema classic has influenced the style and imagination of many including fashion designers such as Ralph Lauren.

Steve McQueen plays a wealthy businessman who eases his boredom by hiring a gang to stage a daring series of ingenious heists. Faye Dunaway plays the insurance investigator sent to solve crimes. The two become accomplices, however, trying to hinder each other. The Thomas Crown affair was particularly noted for the chemistry between McQueen and Dunaway. There are several memorable moments that have become cult, including a game of chess with more or less explicit allusions or a nice ride on the coolest buggy, the Meyers Manx driven on Crane Beach.

Director Norman Jewison made creative use of split-screen visuals, which was an innovation at the time. Even the song used in the film "The Windmills of Your Mind" was an Oscar winner. “The Thomas Crown case” is also known for its elegant production able to satisfy the refined palates in terms of tailoring, design, vintage cars and .. watches.


Let's start with the gold pocket watch by Patek Philippe with “Breguet” numerals, worn in the waistcoat of his gray Prince of Wales three-piece suit.

Another watch worn during the "Thomas Crown" is the Jaeger LeCoultre Memovox Steve McQueen personal. Watch that has been immortalized on the actor's wrist even in the images that portray him away from the spotlight. After the Reverso, the Memovox is probably the second most recognizable vintage wristwatch popularized by the manufacture. The design itself is very appealing for the era in which it was born, thanks to the presence of the double crown, but the real refinement is the alarm function which was not only forward-thinking, but also incredibly useful.

It's difficult for a film to have more than one watch on its protagonist's wrist, but we're talking about Steve McQueen in one of the coolest movies ever! It will therefore come as no surprise if, speaking of style, Thomas Crown wears none other than a Cartier .. and not just any Cartier.

Be careful, because the first impression could be deceiving and lead you to think of a gold Cartier Tank Cintrée. Nothing easier. Instead, the watch that elegantly emerges from Steve McQueen's cuff is a rare one Tank Allongée 18kt gold plated, manual winding (ETA 2541) intended for the American market and produced by Cartier New York between the 60s and 70s.

Steve McQueen in Thomas Crown and a rendering of the Tank Allongée obtained by combining a real example sold at Christie's and a Tank Cintrée dial of the time

To confirm this, there is also the opinion of a leading expert such as Harry Fane, an important watch dealer specializing in vintage Cartier, who in an interview with GQ states "The watch McQueen wears was made in New York in the late 60s or early 70s and is quite modified, not like the ones from the 20s. It's a slightly thinner model and maybe a millimeter or two longer".

Example of Tank Allongée sold by Christie's in 2021 for GBP 6,875

Even from the choice made in the timepieces for McQueen to wear, you can see the refined eye that accompanies every aspect of "The Thomas Crown case". Relevance is a key aspect and used in a sartorial way. Everything is perfectly in its place. Perhaps the thing that is missing most in this film is the narrative, which makes it always pleasant to watch to dive into a world with a strong "Old Money" aesthetic, but not very stimulating for the development of the story. Director Norman Jewison made creative use of split-screen visuals, which was an innovation at the time… but in the long run they proved a bit barren.

In any case, given the influence this film has had and still has, I'd say we can forgive him, especially in these times where cinema seems to have run out of originality.