If you are a fan of the Bond universe, you will know that 007 never leaves home without a wristwatch. Since the world’s best known secret agent first entered the scene in 1962 a significant timepiece has been his trusted companion.
Actually, Bond’s love for watches is well articulated in the works of Ian Fleming, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that 007 began in style when he appeared in the surf of a Jamaican beach, chatting up the lovely Honey Ryder. We are several years away from deliberate and sponsored product placement, and there is plenty of speculation as to how Sean Connery got in possession of the Submariner reg. 6538 he is seen wearing, not only in Doctor No but also in the following 5 films.
The fabulous Submariner 6538
Some claim that it was property of Mr. Broccoli himself, others say that it was owned by one of the crew on the film set. What seems certain is that Rolex as a company didn’t pay a penny for this unique piece of plugging. The last 57 years of Bond has seen watch brands come and go, but in overall terms you can talk about three significant but very different eras:
The Rolex Era 1962-1975
The Seiko Era 1975-1985
The Omega Era 1995-present
The Rolex Era
It couldn’t have been any different – Bond had to wear a Rolex, and in the first 9 films at least one Rolex watch is involved. In some of the films there were actually more than one. Always the trusty Submariner, but Bond wasn’t the only person wearing Geneva’s finest. In Goldfinger, Bond’s love interest Pussy Galore is wearing a Rolex GMT-Master ref. 6542 while piloting the newly captured 007 across the Atlantic.
The GMT-Master ref. 6542 as worn by Pussy Galore in Goldfinger
Another significant, but easily overlooked, Rolex moment is when the brilliant Christopher Lee, aka Scaramanga, aka The Man With the Golden Gun is sporting the ultra rare Rolex Cellini King Midas.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service from 1969 featured a new Bond in George Lazenby, and he got to wear two different Rolex models during his only appearance as 007. Most of the time he was wearing a Submariner ref. 5513, but in a certain scene, the stopwatch built into his white-faced Chronograph ref. 6238 allows him to time the movement of a ski gondola during an escape from the villain’s lair high up in the Swiss Alps.
The ultra-rare Chronograph ref. 6238 worn by George Lazenby in OHMSS
So far the Bond watches had been completely gadget free. Other than look good, they just told the time. The exception to that rule was a special edition of the peculiar looking Breitling Top Time used in Thunderball in 1965. Actually the watch used in the film was a modified version of the Top Time chronograph which had been treated to a steel bracelet and an odd looking collar which wrapped around the bezel of the watch.
This watch was fitted with a Geiger counter, which Bond put to good use while investigating Emilio Largo.
Sean Connery had called it a day in 1967, but after his replacement George Lazenby had failed to capture the imagination of Bond fans around the world, and didn’t get re-drafted, Connery was persuaded to come back for a final hurrah in 1971. Diamonds are Forever, a rather strange and plot-less film saw a Bond with big Elvis-style sideburns, and it was clear that Connery’s best years as 007 were well and truly behind him. From a watch perspective this rather kitsch Bond film was nothing to write home about either.
The modified Breitling Top Time from Thunderball
Enter Roger Moore - the smooth heartthrob who had played The Saint during the 1960s, and who also starred alongside Tony Curtis in The Persuaders, driving a mustard yellow Aston Martin DDS, was cast to take over from Connery. The Q branch that provides 007 with field equipment had also been hard at work. What looked just like a run-of-the-mill Submariner ref. 5513 was packed with new features, and the watch had a built-in ultra powerful magnet, which Bond used to save his life at least twice in two hours, but also to unzip the dress of the stunning Miss Caruso in the pre-title sequence. Even the rotating bezel worked as a circular saw, which got Bond and Miss Solitaire out of trouble in the final scene.
The Man With The Golden Gun from 1975 would be the last film in which a Rolex watch was used, and apart from a brief appearance in the 1989 film Licence to Kill, the Rolex era was over. Considering how long ago it is, the Rolex era still stands out as truly remarkable.
The modified Submariner ref. 5513. Note the saw-tooth edge on the bezel and the red hour markers
The Seiko Era
By 1977 007 had gone digital. Analogue watches were passé, and the Swiss watch industry was nearly killed off by a tsunami of Japanese digital watches. On the wrist, where a beautiful Submariner used to roam, was now something as un-exotic as a digital Seiko watch.
Purists were disgusted but the new generation of Bond fans who were too young to remember the glory days of Sean Connery didn’t mind.
It was a bit like a stone age Apple Watch. Bond’s Seiko watches could do remarkable things like send and receive messages and set off explosions. The Seiko reg. M354 used in Moonraker packed its own explosives, and saved Bond and Holly Goodhead from certain death and cremation.
When you watch the Bond films from 1977-1985 the digital timepieces seem out of place and not at all in line with the style and grace of Roger Moore. The poor man had to content with digital watches until his very last film in 1985. In A View to a Kill Seiko was still the watch partner, but at least 007 got to wear two different analogue watches, which helped a bit.
The ageing Roger Moore had packed it in after A View to a Kill in 1985, and that also marked the end of the Seiko era.
The brilliant and classically trained stage actor Timothy Dalton took the reigns. Apparently Pierce Brosnan was meant to take over from Moore, but he was contractually bound to the TV-series Remington Steel and couldn’t be released.
Dalton’s Bond was mean and cynical and gone were the days of the smooth one-liners and the raised eyebrow. His wrist game was also different to what Moore’s had been. Gone were the gadget watches, and analogue watches were back in vogue.
In The Living Daylights he was wearing a Heuer Ref. 980.031 Night Dive, and in his second and last film, Licence to Kill he is suddenly wearing a contemporary Rolex Submariner Ref. 16610.
The Tag Heuer ref. 980.031 Night Dive worn by Timothy Dalton's Bond
It was as if the Bond franchise didn’t know where it was going, and after 1989 the 007 saga went into its longest ever hibernation. Since 1962 there had typically been no more than two years between the films, but now Bond went AWOL for six years.
The Omega Era
After such a long absence it would take something special to bring Bond back to relevance. The impasse that had prevented Brosnan from taking the role had now been sorted, and he was finally confirmed as the man who was chosen to take Bond into a world which was no longer as black and white as it used to be.
The cold war had ended, the Soviet Union had collapsed, and from the ashes rose a large number of new countries, each with a unique set of challenges. Being a cold war phenomenon, Bond also had to find his place in this brave, new world.
Bond returned in Goldeneye, initially behind the wheel of his trusty Aston Martin DB5, racing a gorgeous brunette in a Ferrari 355 through the mountains around Monaco. Looking smug and wearing an… Omega Seamaster ref. 2541.80.00. Out of nowhere came the proud Swiss brand, which had barely survived the digital massacre of the 1970s and 1980s, now looking for a new platform to rebuild its brand from.
The Omega Speedmaster 300m ref.2541.80.00 worn in Goldeneye
It seems they found it in the Bond franchise. The newly released Speedmaster 300M became the choice of 007, and the world went mad for it. At a certain stage of the film Omega was retrofitted into the history of MI6, when the former 006-agent-turned-villain had captured Bond and taken his watch from him. He compared the watch to his own service watch, which he was still wearing.
In the Brosnan films that followed Goldeneye, he remained faithful to the Seamaster 300M, albeit with an automatic movement rather than quartz version from the first film.
By the turn of the millennium Brosnan had three films to his name and it was as if they gradually got worse. There was fierce competition from both Jason Bourne and Ethan Hunt, and Bond could no longer lay exclusive claim to the spy universe.
The franchise had well and truly lost its way, and Brosnan’s final stint as Bond was particularly embarrassing. By all means, there was still Aston Martins and beautiful girls, but the absence of a proper plot necessitated the use of pointless and ridiculous gadgets that really belonged in the Marvel sequels. It was as if Bond was torn between the jovial one-liners of the Moore era and the toughness of the Connery era.
Many people felt that Bond had nowhere to go from here, but the franchise reinvented itself yet again. It would take something as unlikely as a blond Bond to reignite the passion for the world of 007. Almost designed to be a prequel to previous Bond film, Daniel Craig arrived on the scene and served a big slice of humble pie to all the critics who had defamed him on social media, from the time he was announced as Bond. Already an accomplished and respected actor he took on 007 and made it his own. Bond was back in a raw and very genuine fashion with no ridiculous gadgets, just sheer passion and determination.
To mark that this was really a re-boot, the film was named Casino Royale after the very first of Ian Fleming’s books about Bond. Casino Royale had never been made into a film by the official Bond franchise, only as a spoof back in the early sixties.
Omega was still the brand of choice and the Seamaster Professional Planet Ocean ref. 2900.50.91 looked brilliant on the ultra-fit Craig. In fact he also found time to wear the updated version of the Seamaster 300M made famous by Pierce Brosnan. Featuring the new Co-Axial movement the 300M ref. 2220.80.00 was worn during the climax of the film.
Planet Ocean ref. 2900.50.91 worn by Daniel Craig in Casino Royale
To further show off the ambitions and the confidence of Omega, Eva Green’s Vesper Lynn famously mistakes Bond’s Omega for a Rolex.
The arrival of new Omega Seamaster models were expertly choreographed with the launch of the films. Gone are the days where the Bond film set had to use what happened to be to hand in terms of props.
Daniel Craig, himself known as a passionate collector of vintage Rolex watches became an Omega ambassador, both in the shape of being the current James Bond, but also as himself.
With Bond 25 currently being filmed, watch fans from all over the world are eager to learn what Bond's next wrist game might be.
The Seamaster 300 SPECTRE Special Edition
Enoksen and Bond
At Enoksen we are huge fans of the Bond universe and we wanted to make a watch that pays tribute to the franchise. The result of our efforts is the Dive E02/J – J for James. This watch is a nod to the Submariner on a woven strap worn by Sean Connery in several of the early films, but in particular in Goldfinger from 1964.
Enoksen Dive E02/J