The watch in was introduced in Episode 1 as both a recovered artifact from the Avengers compound, and the reason the Tracksuit Mafia attacked the Black Market auction that Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) found herself in the middle of. Episode 4 reintroduced the watch, with Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) telling Kate it can reveal the identity of a friend who’s been “out of the game” for a long time.
The episode concludes with Kate procuring the watch from Maya Lopez’s (Alaqua Cox) apartment, but no information is given about it or its owner. Fortunately, Marvel fans have been busy creating theories, including one that directly ties the watch to Clint Barton’s days as the vigilante known as Ronin.
The Theory — A recent Reddit post from u/LavaSphinx argues that the Rolex is one that Clint Barton wore during his Ronin days, which is why Maya Lopez and the Tracksuit Mafia went after it in the first place. The theory also speculates that the watch probably features some kind of message or detail that confirms Clint’s identity as Ronin; possibly even an engraved message from his wife, Laura (Linda Cardellini).
If that latter proves true, that would explain why Maya started taking notes on Clint’s family, as was revealed in Hawkeye Episode 4’s closing minutes.
Goodbye, Friend — The two leading theories about Hawkeye’s mysterious Rolex argue that it belongs to either Clint or Laura Barton. If it turns out to be Laura’s, that means Hawkeye is planning on revealing a surprising backstory for the character, one in which she was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (possibly Mockingbird?) before marrying Clint and retiring from the spy life.
Based on Laura’s actions in Episode 4, it certainly seems like the Rolex may have belonged to her. However, the watch could just be a relic from Clint’s days as Ronin. Considering how heavily Hawkeye has focused on Clint’s lingering guilt about his actions as the ruthless vigilante, it would make sense if the watch is nothing more than another artifact from that dark period of his life.
As the Redditor points out, Maya’s notes on Clint’s family are likely a reaction to whatever she found by inspecting the watch. That means the watch has to somehow connect back to both Clint and his family. A gift that features an engraved message from his wife would definitely fit the bill.
The Inverse Analysis — Only two episodes of Hawkeye Season 1 remain, which means viewers don’t have to wait much longer before the mystery of the show’s Rolex is finally resolved. The theory that it could have belonged to Laura Barton certainly makes sense considering everything we know about both Hawkeye and Laura’s history in the comics.
That said, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that Clint wore it during his Ronin days, which were motivated by his grief and anger over his family’s disappearance. Plus, if Marvel’s previous Disney+ shows have taught us anything, it’s that the simplest answer is usually the right one when it comes to the MCU’s so-called “mysteries.”
Hawkeye is streaming now on Disney+.