At the beginning of Doctor Strange, Strange is operating on a patient just getting ready to take the bullet out of their brain while the other doctor watches on. Strange asks ... no, tells the other doctor something about his watch. The other doctor then covers the watch up. What was going on with the watch which caused Strange to behave like this? (Other than him being strange ... er ... eccentric, that is ...)

6 Answers 6


In that scene, Strange was trying to focus (might be showing off as per West) to take out the bullet from the patient's head without using scan reports (directly using micro glaces). But he was disturbed by West's watch noise and he says "your watch is disturbing me". You can hear the watch's ticking sound in that scene. So West put his hand on his watch and then Strange removes the bullet from the head.

But when they got out, Christine asks him that there was no need to make fun of West. So you can make it that Strange was just humiliating West on that scene.

  • 7
    Though, the "making fun" of West part seemed to refer to his earlier conversation, when he got the patient from West in the first place. Other than that, nice and correct answer. +1
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 7, 2016 at 18:32
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    @KutuluMike Hmm, I significantly heard that watch sound in the scene, though (and less so after covered up). But maybe that was influenced by me wanting to hear it after he drew my attention to the watch.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 7, 2016 at 18:44
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    It's up to interpretation, but I thought Dr. Strange was distracted by the watch's sound as well. The ticking sound increased during that scene, until West covered it. If the glare of the watch face had distracted him, I bet the director would have shown light glinting off it, or a circle of light on Strange's face, rather than increasing the volume of the ticking sound. Nov 7, 2016 at 20:23
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    I too heard the watch, and given the delicate nature of surgery, especially involving the brain via a method he was advised not to use, and thus any distraction that could cause him to flinch or lose his concentration needed to be nullified. Not once did I take him asking West to cover his watch as Strange trying to insult him further, but simply asking him the courtesy of impeding an annoying noise from distracting him during a very delicate procedure.
    – MattD
    Nov 7, 2016 at 20:44
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    I am pretty sure the line was "Dr West, cover your watch!"
    – Federico
    Nov 16, 2016 at 13:42

I think he told him to cover his watch as a reference to when West prematurely called the time of death. Kind of like a reference to not needing to know the current time when he extracted the bullet because the patient was going to make it.


Time is a major part of this comic. Strange (at this particular time in the plot) is still governed by time's constraints. His understanding is that time will wait for no one, bend for nothing, travel in no way but forward. This is terrifying for someone who has a near phobia of failure. That ticking clock got to him on another level since it brought into his narcissistic perception a loop of consequences that could lead to a tarnished reputation, or an ego stripping reality that he is not in control.

Later, in the alley in Katmandu, where the thugs stole his watch was significant in the respect that Mordo got the watch back, however it was broken. Symbolizing a new paradigm of chaos for someone who avoided giving up control at all costs.

My last opinion is pertaining to the ending of the film. After all the time manipulation to overthrow the evil one and prevent the Earth from being taking into the dark dimension... Dr. Strange is shown strapping on that same broken watch, even though he has that amazing spinning drawer of working designer watches. He seemingly embraces the fact that most everything is out of his control. Time is relative for each and every one of us. However, time no longer is tied to his success or failures. No longer dictates his path, or controls his actions. As the Ancient one said, "death is what gives life meaning." She no longer held onto the same meaning since she was breaking forbidden rules to empower herself with magic to grant life looong beyond her natural years. Breaking the natural law to protect herself (used to protect those around her as well)... Strange was breaking the natural law to save others in much the same way. (the librarian... the earth) Is this respect, he came into his own, and now understands that everything is not about him.. but aimed at a higher purpose.

  • As per your last paragraph, Stange most likely has sold all of his watches at the point where he's willing to take out a "small loan" of $200k to fund the research into getting him his hands functional again. IOW: The drawer is empty. He keeps the broken watch because Christine had given it to him. He values her more than time itself. Sep 23, 2018 at 15:30

I think we're missing the more subtle undertones as well. The issue with the watch is multiple. The movie is about time. The focus on the watch in the beginning cues to that. The insult to the other doctor is the fact that he failed on the patient originally, and called the "time of death" prematurely. The other side, meaning that now that Dr. Strange was working on the patient, he was going to have more time.


I thought it was at first that he was using a magnet to take the bullet out of the gentleman's brain. Then when Christine says the line about humiliating West so you know it is about West calling the time of the death of this poor gentleman.


The other doctor was wearing a cheap watch. Strange was obviously a watch collector and his JAEGER LECOULTRE that was broken during his accident was OBVIUOSLY a beloved time piece. The other doctor's watch simply wasn't up to Strange's standards thus he was making fun of him via his watch.

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