Becoming Bond: Discovering the Next Bond
Today, the Omega Seamaster is the official watch of the world’s favorite fictional secret agent, James Bond. But before Omega, when the film franchise first began in the 1960’s, 007 wore a Rolex. For seven years, the legendary Sean Connery played the coveted role. But, similarly to Daniel Craig today, Connery was burnt out after his fourth film and wouldn’t sign on for a fifth.
In 1968, the production team behind the popular series scrambled to find the next Bond. Already established actors, like Burt Reynolds, were considered for the part, but Connery’s shoes were hard to fill. Yet, for the 1969 film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, they ultimately ended up going with someone unknown. His name was George Lazenby, a man who had never acted a day in his life. No, his talents certainly didn’t get him the part. Instead, it was a Rolex that helped land this no-name Australian the role of a lifetime.
George Lazenby: Humble Beginnings
Lazenby’s story, chronicled in Hulu’s 2017 documentary, Becoming Bond, is unconventional, to say the least. He developed a kidney disorder when he was just three years old and underwent 67 operations, leaving him with just half a kidney and a predicted life expectancy of only twelve years. So, he approached his young life trying to live each day to the fullest. Yet, he never saw the point in school, and when he survived to age eighteen, he failed to graduate.
Instead, his uncle gave him a job as a mechanic at his used car dealership, but each day, he longingly looked up from under the hood at the salesmen in suits on the lot. He asked his uncle for a promotion, and he obliged, but Lazenby quickly failed at sales. So, his uncle suggested he take a course on Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Here, Lazenby learned the art of listening to his customers. Soon, he became a top salesman and earned another promotion to manager. Little did he know that getting out from under that car was his first step toward becoming Bond.
The Path to Becoming 007
While enjoying his newfound success at a swanky party, he met a woman and they fell head over heels. However, her father didn’t approve and sent her away to London. As soon as Lazenby could save up enough money, he purchased a ticket to follow her there. In London, he started working at a Mercedes dealership. One day, he was showing a young photographer a car. He insisted on photographing Lazenby, saying he had just the right look for modeling. He obliged and took the headshots to an agency on his lunch break. After waiting nearly an hour, he walked out, leaving the photos and the idea of modeling behind. A day later, he got a call for a gig, and his modeling career quickly took off.
His roommate and fellow model introduced him to the world of film and a producer named Maggie Abbott. She immediately sent Lazenby to an audition for none other than the role of the next James Bond. When he first arrived, he realized his attire was out of place, so he left and came back the next day in a new suit, hat, and his Rolex Submariner. He stood in the doorway of the casting director, held his hand to his face, boasting his Rolex, and suavely said, “I heard you’re looking for James Bond.”
Bond and the Rolex Influence
Lazenby used his experience as a car salesman to sell himself for the role, and even after they learned the truth about him, they were still sold. He went on to wear the Rolex Submariner that helped land him the part in the film as well as an incredibly unique pre-Daytona Reference 6238.
The success of the movie led to immense fame for Lazenby and an offer to sign on for the next six films with a million dollar signing bonus. But stardom wasn’t the life he wanted, and he turned it all down. In Becoming Bond, Lazenby states, “Living life on your own terms, in your own way, you feel like it’s much fuller. The best thing you can do is know yourself, feel yourself, and be yourself. I may not be great, but I’m original.”
James Bond is the type of man every young boy aspires to be. It’s clear that Lazenby embodies that type of figure both on and off screen. This kind of power doesn’t just come with special agent skills. For Lazenby, it started with a Rolex. Today, he’s shed the label of Bond but continues to be a Rolex man through and through. You can still find him wearing a classic, two-tone Datejust.