There are few fictional characters more iconic than James Bond. Sprung from the espionage-addled mind of Ian Fleming, he is a bastion of Britishness; and travels the world with his vast reserves of suave, style and inimitable taste. And, through the efforts of seven actors, his singular spirit has been brought to life on the big screen.
We’ve seen cinematic Bond wear the finest suits, drive the fastest cars — and strap on some of the most impressive wristwatches ever created. Because, in a franchise built on a foundation of brand endorsements, watches are a key part of what makes Bond tick. But how has the superspy’s taste in timepieces changed over the years?
In the early Connery days, Bond was a Rolex man (1962 — 1974)
The only watch brand mentioned by Ian Fleming in his novels was Rolex. Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli, while producing the first few films, honoured this — choosing the famed Swiss watchmaker as Bond’s brand of choice when Sean Connery portrayed the superspy in his first five outings as 007.
The Submariner was the Rolex of choice, and the early watches were designed without crown guards, giving them a unique character and individuality compared with the brand’s modern timepieces. In Dr. No, Bond wore a Submariner throughout the film, and it looked as good at the poker table as it did on the beach. Released in 1954, it was a classic already and its rugged nature meant Bond could rely on it during even the most vigorous assignments.
In Dr. No, Bond wore his Submariner on a brown leather strap, giving it a slightly dressier feel. He strapped on the same watch in From Russia With Love and Goldfinger. In the latter film, Bond wears his Rolex on a famously ill-fitting fabric strap — which rankles enthusiasts to this day.
But Connery didn’t stick exclusively to Rolex watches. In Thunderball, he buckles up a Breitling Top Time, modified to contain a Geiger counter. And, in You Only Live Twice, 007 wears a golden Gruen Precision timepiece, allegedly from Connery’s own collection.
George Lazenby's single outing saw him return to Rolex (1969)
Lazenby’s Bond was tepidly received. But one of the things the Australian actor did right was buckle up a couple of choice watches. And, from the Submariner to a rarer “Pre-Daytona” Chronograph, both came from Rolex.
They’re classic choices for a reasonably classic Bond. But, like the film, story and actor, these watches were never going to top anyone’s list of 007 favourites.
In the Roger Moore era, Seiko appeared (1977 — 1989)
Whilst the Rolex tradition was kept alive in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun (both featured the Submariner 5513), Roger Moore wore Seiko timepieces for the majority of his tenure as the venerable spy — via a brief affair with the singular Hamilton Pulsar.
It was a move that timepiece purists may scoff at today, but some of the Seiko watches sourced were actually incredibly interesting. This era also marked the first time watches were used as gadgets in the Bond films, with complications including a bomb detonator, buzzsaw and ticker-tape function.
In The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond wears a Seiko 0674 LC. In Moonraker, he relies on a Seiko M354 Memory Bank Calendar. And, by For Your Eyes Only, he’s got two more Japanese watches in his collection; the Seiko 7549-7009 and the Seiko H357 Duo Display. If that wasn’t enough, A View to a Kill sees Moore strap three different Seikos around his wrist, including the Seiko Diver’s 150m.
But then, throughout the 70s and 80s, the quartz craze was sweeping throughout the watch industry, threatening to kill off the fine art of mechanical movements. And, just like his (sometimes very unfortunate outfits) Roger Moore’s James Bond always kept up with contemporary fads and phases — meaning his digital Seikos were more a sign of the times than a sign of his style.
Timothy Dalton steered things back on track (1987 — 1989)
Another understated, underrated Bond. Dalton was Craig before his time; coming out swinging and snarling with vengeful, vitriolic action sequences and more comfortable, considered clothing. Unlike Moore’s Bond, this grittier version didn’t seem to be perennially buttoned into his dinner jacket.
It was the same with his watches. True, there may have been a slight misstep in The Living Daylights, when Dalton plumped for a practical (yet uncharacteristic) TAG Heuer Professional Night-Dive — but he rectified things in Licence to Kill, when the stylish, versatile Rolex Submariner made its triumphant return to the franchise.
During the Brosnan tenure, Omega arrived (1994 — 2002)
But Brosnan is where watches really started to tick again for the superspy. Goldeneye saw Bond return to the quality, prestige watchmaking of old, when he threw on an Omega Seamaster Professional 300M.
But this iteration’s finest horological hour came during Tomorrow Never Dies, when Brosnan finally moved away from quartz and strapped on Omega’s in-house 1120 movement. The Omega Seamaster 300M Chronometer was a step up for the spy, with three hands, a date window and luminescent markings around its blue dial. Gadgets aside, Brosnan would wear a Seamaster for the rest of his tenure.
Most memorable of these Seamasters is surely the gadget-laden Omega Seamaster Professional 300M Brosnan wore in The World Is Not Enough. Not only could the watch light up under the dial with the use of a light generator, but there was also a grappling hook deployable from under the crown. Because why not? Who knows when you’re going to have to jump out of a sticky situation?
Daniel Craig’s James Bond is also an Omega enthusiast (2006 — 2021)
Although traditionalists would argue that Fleming intended Bond to wear a Rolex, many fans would argue that Bond is more of an Omega man. And, ever since Goldeneye in 1995, James Bond has worn an Omega timepiece on screen — continuing with Daniel Craig.
Sleek and sophisticated, Omega is a brand associated with incredible quality, craftsmanship, and above all, reliability. Bond is a man constantly on the move, so only a durable timepiece will do — although design is also, of course, very important. Craig’s Bond has worn variations of the Seamaster — including Casino Royale’s Omega Seamaster Professional 300M, Quantum of Solace’s Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean and Skyfall’s Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra.
Daniel Craig’s Bond preferred to keep it simple until Spectre — when Q Branch gave him his first tricked-out watch in over a decade. This watch, another Seamaster 300, doubled as an explosive device he used to escape Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld at the film’s climax.
Next up, we’ll see Craig strap on the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition in No Time To Die. Crafted from strong-yet-lightweight Grade 2 Titanium (it’s first time a 007 watch has been crafted from the precious metal), this new watch sports a brown tropical aluminium bezel ring and dial. But what gadgetry will be found within the case? Only time will tell…
Want to learn more about Bond’s next mission? Here’s all we know about No Time To Die…
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