Whitney Pastorek
July 29, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

When Jessica Alba’s Sue Storm goes invisible for the first time in Fantastic Four, the watch floating where her wrist used to be is a tricked-out Hamilton Lloyd Chrono. It’s the latest in a long string — nearly 300! — of screen credits: Since making a 1951 film debut in the WWII drama The Frogmen, Hamiltons have graced star wrists from George Clooney’s in Ocean’s Eleven to Will Smith’s in Men in Black II. Even Stanley Kubrick had the Swiss company design futuristic timepieces for 2001: A Space Odyssey. ”With these major appearances,” says Hamilton U.S. brand manager Patric Zingg, ”people started to think, We need a watch, let’s go to Hamilton!”

Surprisingly, in product placement-happy Hollywood, says Zingg, the watchmakers have never paid for an appearance. ”Technically, there was no money exchanged,” says Fantastic Four associate producer David Gorder. Instead, Hamilton signed on for a ”promotion” and agreed to run ads with Sue Storm and the watch. In other words: product visibility for free movie advertising — a deal not every company will cut, making Hamilton more attractive.

That’s not all. Hamilton hosts the annual Timeless Style Awards, honoring those who matter most: costume designers who pick the watches. ”Instead of inviting them to dinner, we created a platform to expose these talented people,” says Zingg. The continuing payoff? Hamiltons are expected to show up later this year in The Producers (Matthew Broderick’s pocket watch) and Into the Blue, also coincidentally starring Alba. Uh, watch for it!

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