How the Kudoke Skeleton watch ended up as an important part in the Hollywood film Last Looks, and what happens after, is a story in itself. It certainly didn’t begin as how we imagine most movie-watch tie-ups to be, from a handshake between marketing directors. Indeed, we’re not sure if Kudoke even has one, as the German watch company is essentially a husband-and-wife team plus three watchmakers. After working with renowned brands like Breguet, Blancpain and Glashutte Original, Stefan Kudoke decided to become an independent watchmaker and founded his eponymous brand in 2008. Since then, he has been producing utterly stunning hand-engraved watches executed with a level of flair that gets oil paintings framed on very nice walls. His hard work was validated in 2019 when his Kudoke 2 won the “Petite Aiguille” Prize for watches valued between CHF 3,500 and CHF 10,000 at the GPHG.
Even before winning that prize, writer Howard Michael Gould had noticed the brand while doing research for his first book in the Charlie Waldo crime series: “When I was researching the story, I knew that I wanted a unique and specific watch, to use as an important clue. I searched on the internet, and was struck by the incredible beauty of your watches,” Gould told the Kudokes. The book was published in 2018, and the movie premiered in February this year, starring Charlie Hunnam as Charlie Waldo (washed-out ex-cop who now lives to minimise his carbon footprint in self-exile), Mel Gibson as Alastair Pinch ( an alcoholic TV star accused of murdering his wife) and Morena Baccarin as Lorena Nascimento (Waldo’s ex-flame who draws Waldo back to investigate the case).
The Kudoke Skeleton plays itself. In referring to the president of the TV network, Gibson’s character asks Waldo, “Have you seen what [watch] this man wears? It costs more than the house I grew up in.” To which said TV exec answers, “It’s a Kudoke Skeleton; they only make 35 a year.”
Is the movie any good? Opinions differ, but there is less controversy to be found in the merits of the Kudoke Skeleton. Here, excellence is not simply a matter of how much material the watchmaker can excise from the watch, but rather the beauty and attractiveness of the composition. That is what sets Kudoke’s skeletonised watches apart from the rest.
And there’s going to be happy ending too. After the filming, the watch was returned to Kudoke, which set the watchmaker thinking: “The German word for forest is ‘Wald’ – the hero’s name ‘Waldo’ does not contain it for nothing – so we decided to support reforestation projects, not least because we have lost many forest stands in our region in recent years due to the increasingly prolonged drought and the associated pest Infestation.” Gould and Hunnam also thought this a very fine idea, so they have contributed a signed book and a signed movie script to be auctioned with the watch in support of environmental organisations.
The bundle is to be auctioned by Phillips Auction House on 10 December, in New York.