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, with vast reserves of suave, style and inimitable taste. And, through the efforts of seven actors, over the course of 26 films, his spirit has been brought crashing, leaping and shooting to life.
He’s worn the finest suits. He’s driven the fastest cars. And, most notably for any horology enthusiasts, he’s strapped on some of the most impressive wristwatches ever developed. In a franchise built on a foundation of brand endorsements, these watches come second only to the cars on screen — but how has Bond’s taste in timepieces changed over the years?
In the early Connery days (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. Later in the film series, in Goldfinger, he wore one on a NATO-style strap — which was famously ill-fitting and still baffles watch enthusiasts to this day.
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, Roger Moore wore Seiko timepieces for the majority of his tenure as the venerable spy. It was a move that timepiece purists may scoff at today, but some of the watches sourced were actually incredibly interesting, such as the badly named 0674 5009. 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.
Throughout the 70s and 80s, the quartz craze swept 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 Seiko was more a sign of the times than a sign of his style.
During the Brosnan tenure, Omega arrived (1994 — 2002)
Let’s skip over ol’ Timothy Dalton — although his Tag Heuer 980.031 Professional from The Living Daylights is worth an honourable mention, with its glow-in-the-dark dial and PVD black case. 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 a Omega.
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 — 2020)
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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