Celebrities and Unique Style: The History of Police Watches

If you’re someone who likes to stand out from the crowd and you want a style which is distinctly “you” then you’ll know all about Police watches. They’re bold, brash… but most importantly eye catching and original. Whether your young in age or young in spirit (I mean, are you ever really too old for a lads holiday to Ibiza?) they have a watch to suit your style.

The history of police watches doesn’t stretch back into the last century like Seiko does and it isn’t a big part of a countries emergence into world trade, like the story of the Japanese watch industry is. But in less than 4 decades Police have gone from a brand which only existed in the mind of an entrepreneur to a brand fronted by celebrities like David Beckham and George Clooney.

So, without any further ado, let’s wind our watches back and learn all about the history of Police watches.

The Beginning of The Police Brand

Police Watches: Unique, Stylish and Popular

The history of the Police brand goes back to 1978 when the De Rigo brothers founded Charme Lunettes in Limana, Belluno. This small company hired 30 people to manufacture sunglasses and frames for corrective lenses, originally for other companies.

Over the coming years they started to make prescription eye glasses and sunglasses under their own De Rigo brand. In 1983 the De Rigo brothers decided to start their own designer sunglasses range. The idea for De Rigo was to use the ideas of the fashion world and bring them into the sunglasses market in a way that they had never done before. They wanted to offer the best designs in terms of function, with an edgy and unique style – inspiring new trends and marketing a new collection every year. The De Rigo website explains:

The Police street style was created for the specific purpose of launching in Europe a range of unisex sunglasses inspired by an American, on-the-road lifestyle, and soon stood out for its strong personality. It was designed for young people, either by age or lifestyle, a little bold, rebellious, trying to constantly affirm their unconventionality. It was revolutionary: sunglasses no longer had the sole purpose of protecting the wearer’s eyes, but became a fashion accessory too.”

Throughout the 1980’s Police sunglasses were always on the cutting edge of fashion. Their designs became famous worldwide, genuinely turning sunglasses, which had always been something used out of necessity in order to shield your eyes, into a genuine fashion statement. They took the ideas of the fashion world to heart by putting together a sunglasses convention in Venice in 1993 called SUN-DAY. They were the first sunglasses brand to use this format, which was immediately successful and they repeated the format in a different country every year.

In order to keep up with market demand worldwide, but especially in Europe, Police expanded their operations to Germany and Austria in 1988 and France in 1992. As an example of how far the company had come by 1995, they signed a licensing agreement with FIFA.

By the mid-90’s Police were known as a brand for people who wanted to show off a unique style and stand out amongst the crowd. In 1995 they released a range of sunglasses with blue mirrored lenses, which were ahead of their time. Something that Police always intended to be, inspiring and endorsing new trends.

Expanding Into Different Areas

After dominating the sunglasses market for a decade and a half, turning sunglasses from an item of necessity into an item desired by consumers. Police moved into the expanding fragrances market with Police Original in 1997. This move into the fragrances market was before the explosion of celebrity fragrances which came about after the millennium. With a young consumer base (in Police’s words “young, by age or by lifestyle”) a fragrance was just as popular as you would expect it to be.

Finally… Police Watches

Police Watches

Police watches finally came onto the market in 2003, bringing a unique design – brash and original – compared to the rest of the watches on market. Police explained that their watch collection “Confirms its mission: the diffusion of a cosmopolitan lifestyle for trendy, non-conformist, and off-beat individuals who decide to keep their own time with Police time.”

Police watches were immediately popular thanks to their wide range of styles and their individuality. Whether you’re looking for something sophisticated or a gritty street-punk style, there will be a watch within the collection for you.

Police watches have been popular with Movie tie-ins too, with the brand providing the official watch for Terminator Salvation and Terminator Genysis. With watches with names like Beast Watch and Commander, it’s no surprise that Police would be chosen to provide the official watch for a top action movie like Terminator and they didn’t disappoint with a watch which certainly lives up to the name of the action Movie it was created for.

Police have always ensured that any new addition to the Police range fits in with the Police brand – which has helped ensure that the watch range has been consistently successful. It fits Police customers perfectly, being made for people who are not defined by their accessories – rather using their accessories to accentuate their unique style and personality. Which is why the Police brand has always been popular with fashion Icons from the world of celebrity.

The Celebrity Faces of The Police Brand

Bruce Willis was the first world famous celebrity Police ambassador.
Bruce Willis was the first world famous celebrity Police ambassador.

As the Police brand is original, unique and undoubtedly stylish, it’s no surprise that there have been numerous celebrities lining up to put their face to the brand itself. Starting in 1995, a licensing agreement was signed with FIFA, but this was just the start of the world Police were going to be involved in.

In 1998, the year of the World Cup in France, Police enlisted world class AC Milan and Italy defender Paolo Maldini to front their advertising campaign. Wearing a stylish pair of Police sunglasses Maldini was an unsurprisingly popular choice for an advertising campaign from an Italian fashion brand.

Unfortunately, Italy didn’t bring home the World Cup that year, going out on penalties to the eventual winners and hosts, France, in the Quarter Finals.

The next year Police teamed up with action star Bruce Willis, who was starring in Blockbuster movie The Sixth Sense that year. If you haven’t seen it yet (firstly, where have you been the last sixteen years?) I’m not going to spoil the ending for you, but you’ll never see the twist coming (I’m sorry, I hate it when people do that. It totally ruined Shutter Island for me. But, really, you still haven’t seen The Sixth Sense?).

Bruce Willis continued to front the brand until 2002 (and, seriously, his celebrity endorsements since then have been terrible. I mean, have you seen his advertisement for Sky – it was awful). In 2002 George Clooney stepped in as the face of the brand, off the back of his mega-fame thanks to world-famous TV series ER and the movie Oceans Eleven. His Police advertisements were a lot better than his Nescafé ones – where you spend the entire advertisement thinking “wait, is that really George Clooney? He’s way too famous for this advert.”

David Beckham as England Captain
David Beckham as England Captain

In 2004 David Beckham became the face of the Police brand. Beckham was one Real Madrid’s Galacticos at the time appearing alongside superstars like Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo (the Brazilian one), but certainly the most famous face in the team. Somehow, despite having most of his time taken up with football and the Rebecca Loos scandal, the fashion icon David Beckham managed to find the time to lend his face to the Police brand.

After Antonio Banderas became the face of the Police brand in 2007 (while voicing Puss In Boots in the Shrek series of movies) and Atsushi became the Japanese brand ambassador, Police decided to look for something different in their next ambassador. In 2010 Police launched the Be Younique campaign to look for a new face of the brand, looking for someone unique and original, with their own story to tell. After going through thousands of entries they chosen Andrea Garbolino, an unknown Italian man from Settimo Torinese, to be the new face of the Police brand.

In 2013 Police chosen Brazil striker Neymar Jr as the new face of the brand. With the World Cup being held in Brazil, with a strong Brazil team managed by experienced World Cup manager Felipe Scolari their man was sure to win the competition, right?

Well….. just like Maldini in World Cup ’98 and Beckham in Euro 2004… Police’s man didn’t come home (well, I suppose he was technically already at home) with a trophy. And after his side slipped to a 8-1 defeat on home soil to Germany in the Semi-Final, I’m wondering if there’s some kind of weird curse on footballers who become Police brand ambassadors.


Over the last 37 years the De Rigo brothers have always been at the forefront of quality design, but since 1983 they have been world leaders in fashion. Firstly with sunglasses, then with fragrances, watches, jewellery and bags.

By merging the fashion worlds ideas with the expanding sunglasses market, Police paved the way for the same ideas to be used by many other fashion brands. They also managed to repeat their success with fragrances and especially in the watch market. With bold and unique designs which have been incredibly popular with their young (in age and in lifestyle) customers, Police watches are sure to remain popular for years and years to come.

Why not check out their current range over on the main site and Be Younique by grabbing your own Police watch!

Images: Gage Skidmore (Bruce Willis photo),

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