“A gentleman’s choice of timepiece says as much about him as does his Saville Row suit.” – Ian Fleming
The relationship between James Bond and his watches is pretty well-known. There’s the product partnership with OMEGA that started when Pierce Brosnan took up the mantle, but we all know that Bond’s love affair (with his watches at least) began well before that. Ian Fleming, author and originator of the world’s most-beloved spy, wore a Rolex Explorer 1016—as did Bond when he made his novel debut. When Sean Connery debuted Bond on-screen in Dr. No, he had a Submariner on his wrist. But that’s not to discount all the great watches that show up in the middle of James Bond’s long saga.
Join us as we go Bond-by-Bond into some seriously interesting watch history.
The 007 movies introduced Rolex into James Bond’s world. In Dr. No, Sir Sean Connery wore a Rolex Submariner 6538. He displayed remarkable consistency in taste, wearing the same watch in From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, and Thunderball. This was the era of the Rolex Bond, but that doesn’t mean other watches didn’t also get some wrist time. Connery wore a Gruen Precision Subsidiary Seconds in Dr. No and You Only Live Twice and a Breitling Top Time in Thunderball—the first watch to include a gadget.
The other “Rolex” Bond was George Lazenby, who sported two in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: a Rolex Chronograph 6238 and a Submariner.
When Roger Moore took the helm of the Bond franchise, he introduced the first digital watch: a Hamilton Pulsar P2/2900 Astronaut, which was featured in Live and Let Die. That film also saw Bond return to his first love (when it comes to watches), the Rolex Submariner.
Seiko made its debut during Moore’s era as well. Bond showcased a Seiko 0674 in Moonraker, and The Spy Who Loved Me introduced yet another new Seiko watch, a G757 5020 Sports 100, which had GPS tracking capability.
By this point in the Bond franchise, a pattern established itself: with new Bond movies also came new high-end watches. Timothy Dalton, who introduced a darker version of Bond, also introduced TAG Heuer timepieces to Bond’s wardrobe. In The Living Daylights, he wore a TAG Heuer Professional 200M and a Professional Night Dive. Then, in License to Kill, he wore a Rolex Submariner Date. During this era, James Bond left behind the modern-looking digital watches of his predecessor and chose models that reflected his seriousness.
Pierce Brosnan was the Bond of a new generation, and when he appeared, a new brand emerged: OMEGA. Brosnan’s Bond wore a Seamaster 300M in Tomorrow Never Dies, a watch which also had a detachable remote detonator. It was the same model he wore in The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day.
Another important OMEGA was the Seamaster Quartz Professional Brosnan wore in GoldenEye. As non-standard features, the watch had an armour-cutting laser and a mine detonator. During this period of Bond movies, OMEGA watches symbolized high quality and class.
The most recent Bon, Daniel Craig, has worn OMEGA watches exclusively during his run. In Casino Royale, he was seen with an OMEGA Seamaster Co-Axial 300M and a Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M, which he subsequently wore in Skyfall. In Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Spectre, the latest Bond film, he wore a Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Co-Axial Chronometer.
Beyond featuring as stylish accessories in Bond’s wardrobe, watches have proved crucial to his missions, and each luxury watch had a significant contribution in communicating the character traits that differentiate each Bond from one another.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published on May 17, 2012. It has since been updated for accuracy.
Image Credits: Header; Crown & Caliber. 1-3, 5-6; Eon Productions. 4; 007.com