"It's a Rolex."
… Just in case you were wondering.
Holly is so good at her fancy job that she receives a swanky gold Rolex from Nakatomi's resident cad, Harry Ellis. The watch first appears in a brief scene at the beginning of the movie, when Harry is introduced to John McClane. Smarmy as ever, he wants to assert some ownership over Holly's career accomplishments, so he tells her to show McClane the watch.
Holly's clearly uncomfortable with the whole thing—probably because she knows McClane isn't the type to go nuts over a chunk of gold jewelry—so she just says "maybe later." Harry's none too pleased.
We don't hear anything about the watch for the rest of the movie, until the climactic scene where McClane finally confronts Gruber. McClane gets the drop on Gruber, and sends him flying out the high-rise window with a mere shot from a handgun. Unfortunately, Gruber is still clinging to Holly, who he was using as a human shield. As he falls out the window, he takes her with him, grabbing onto—you guessed it—the watch. John unhooks it, and off Gruber goes.
Greed Is Not Good
What's all this mean?
- You should probably just stick with your trusty Swatch.
- Gordon Gekko was wrong.
Think about it. Holly receives the watch from pretty much the worst guy in the movie who isn't a criminal mastermind. And the whole reason he gives it to her is because she's really good at making the company money. In a weird way, it's Harry Ellis's way of staking claim on Holly and her successes.
And then, at the end of the movie, the watch is literally the only thing keeping Hans Gruber—pretty much the greediest guy ever—alive. Once Holly ditches the watch, Gruber's gone for good, and his plot to steal $640 million in bearer bonds goes with him. In a movie that celebrates the everyman—not the Wall Street man—there's just no way that gold Rolex could survive the night.