A Concise History of James Bond Watches
Originally a Rolex Submariner man, has the world’s favorite spy settled on a new favorite – the Omega Seamaster?
Along with a license to kill, James Bond is a highly lucrative license for product placement, a Midas touch for just about any accessory he sports. In 2014, with the 50th anniversary of Goldfinger, Christie’s auctioned one of the most recent James Bond watches: an Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra watch in dazzling yellow gold which was sold for eight times its estimated price.
Omega secured a franchise to time the spy’s missions back in 1995, and for many fans, Omega is the brand they associate with Bond. But there is a nostalgic chunk of Bond watch history that needs to be told, succinctly captured in this dialogue between Vesper Lynd and Bond in Casino Royale as she tries to guess the brand of watch he is wearing:
Vesper Lynd: Rolex?
James Bond: Omega.
Vesper Lynd: Beautiful.
The Original Bond Watch
Watch buffs and James Bond buffs already know the original iconic Bond watch, spotting the Rolex Submariner on Sean Connery’s wrist in Dr No in 1962. The original 007 watch, Rolex was a perfect match for James Bond – the world’s first dive watch, a resilient yet elegant piece to accompany the rugged yet elegant secret agent on his adventure. Sean Connery wore the Rolex Submariner throughout seven screen appearances, becoming so associated with Bond that collectors today still refer to this model as the James Bond Submariner.
Author Ian Fleming was meticulous about the kind of watch James Bond should wear: “He could not just wear a watch. It had to be a Rolex,” he said in his book Casino Royale, convinced that “a gentleman’s choice of timepiece says as much about him as does his Savile Row suit”. Rolex watches appeared in nine of the James Bond sagas, forming a vital part of his identity and style manual.
Although Bond would be played by a host of different actors between 1962 and 1989 – Sean Connery, Peter Sellers, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig – almost all 007s were equipped with a Rolex Submariner on their missions. There were some high-tech players along the way and a couple of Breitling and TAG Heuer models, but the original James Bond watch was a Rolex Submariner.
The Era of the Digital Bond Timepiece
In tune with the quartz era that marked Roger Moore’s reign as Bond, a couple of digital Seikos and a glowing red Pulsar digital watch made their way on to the spy’s wrist, including the Seiko Liquid Crystal TV Watch featured in Octopussy in 1983, which allowed Bond to admire more than the time.
Bond’s First Omega Watch
In 1995, Omega won a bid to become the MI6 agent’s official watch. Pierce Brosnan was the first Bond to strap on an Omega Seamaster Professional 300m complete with a laser beam and remote control for detonating devices in GoldenEye. When Daniel Craig stepped into Bond’s shoes in 2006, he wanted to change the dependency of the character on gimmicky tools and show the true mettle of the new and modern Bond. In Casino Royale, Craig wears two Omega models: a blue Omega Seamaster 300m chronometer and a sleek, black Seamaster Planet Ocean 600m Co-Axial chronometer on a rubber strap that helps extricate him from deep underwater trouble.
Fast cars, women, Dom Pérignon, vodka martinis and timepieces are all staple accessories of the world’s favorite spy, but has Bond stopped switching watch brands as fast as he did his women? And what would Fleming have to say about this?
James Bond Film and Watch List
Dr. No – Rolex
From Russia with Love – Rolex
Goldfinger – Rolex
Thunderball – Rolex, Breitling
You Only Live Twice
Casino Royale – Rolex
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – Rolex
Diamonds are Forever
Live and Let Die – Hamilton, Rolex
Man with the Golden Gun – Rolex
The Spy Who Loved Me – Seiko
Moonraker – Seiko
For Your Eyes Only – Seiko
Octopussy – Seiko
Never Say Never Again
A View to a Kill – Seiko
The Living Daylights – Tag Heuer
License to Kill – Seiko
Goldeneye – Omega
Tomorrow Never Dies – Omega
The World is not Enough – Omega
Die Another Day – Omega
Casino Royale – Omega, Longines
Quantum of Solace – Omega, Hamilton
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