Commemorating 56 Years Of Bond, James Bond: A Complete Rundown Of Watches Worn On Screen By The World’s Most Famous Fictional Spy
A man walks toward his car, presses the sapphire watch crystal of his Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox 2, and the Aston Martin’s door pops open.
No, this man was not James Bond; he was Marek Reichman. And he was wearing a mechanical watch that contained a transponder to open his car’s doors.
Reichman, previous head designer at Aston Martin worked intensely with Jaeger-LeCoultre’s designers on the cooperative watch line christened Amvox (Am = “Aston Martin”) to produce a timepiece inspired by the classic values and characteristics of James Bond’s favorite car. But it was never the one that Bond wore on screen.
No, no, no, not the Rolex Submariner!
The ultra-successful James Bond film franchise celebrated 55 years of existence in 2017 – Dr. No appeared in theaters in 1962 – and with it a host of luxury items used in the world-famous film series, including wristwatches.
Bond’s love affair with timepieces began with Sean Connery, who wore a Q-modified, gadget-containing Rolex Submariner in Dr. No even though his creator, author Ian Fleming, personally wore the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer (as did the literary James Bond).
Legend has it that while filming Dr. No, the prop department realized they had forgotten to obtain the proper Rolex for Connery, so to keep the cameras rolling director Terence Young took his own Submariner Reference 6538 off his wrist and loaned it to the actor.
Through From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), and Thunderball (1965) Connery continued to wear a Rolex Submariner, one of the brand with the crown in its logo’s most popular styles.
It is unknown which watch Connery as Bond wore in 1967’s You Only Live Twice, though there are plenty of guesses scuttling around the internet.
In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Bond’s badge had been passed to George Lazenby, who wore both a Rolex Submariner Reference 5513 and a Reference 6238 pre-Daytona chronograph. Read the full story of this particular chronograph and its connection to the film in James Bond’s Original Rolex Ref. 6238 From ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ Goes Under The Hammer.
Connery returned as the leading man in 1971’s Diamonds are Forever. Once again, the watch he wore remains without positive identification.
Roger Moore wore the Rolex Submariner Reference 5513 in Live and Let Die (1973) and Man with the Golden Gun (1974), however the watch was now outfitted with gadgets added by Q such as a circular saw and a built-in magnet.
In the opening sequence of Live and Let Die, Bond wore a Pulsar LED digital watch by Hamilton – a harbinger perhaps of things to come.
The quartz revolution gave us 007 wearing Seiko
The quartz revolution of the 1970s and the accompanying birth of product placement prompted Roger Moore to film five movies with a Seiko on his wrist: in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) in addition to a Rolex GMT-Master he wore a Seiko 0674 LC while on more “technical” spy business.
In Moonraker (1979) his Seiko M354 Memory Bank Calendar contains explosives, while in For Your Eyes Only (1981) two Seikos accompanied him: a 7549-7009 Professional Diver’s watch and an H357 Duo Display. In Octopussy (1983) various sources say he sports a Seiko TV Watch.
Highly indicative of the quartz era that reached its heyday in the 1980s, Bond wears three Seiko models in 1985’s View to a Kill, including a chronograph and a diver’s 150m.
Martin Green spotted something else I found interesting about the watches worn in View to a Kill, which he explains in How Rolex And Cartier Stole Seiko’s Groove In James Bond’s ‘A View To A Kill.’
Timothy Dalton went in a different direction, sporting two TAG Heuer Professional diver’s watches in The Living Daylights (1987) but returned to the iconic Rolex Submariner (Reference 16610) in License to Kill (1989).
The mechanical watch renaissance of James Bond with Pierce Brosnan and Omega
Pierce Brosnan’s ultra-elegant Bond was accompanied by an extreme amount of product placement (GoldenEye is the world record-holder at $100 million worth of total product placement), including Omega’s mechanical timepieces: an Omega Seamaster Professional was Q-outfitted with a laser-toting bezel and laser-beam cutter in GoldenEye; a removable explosive detonator in Tomorrow Never Dies; and wire, a grappling hook, and an electric torch in The World is Not Enough.
In 2002’s Die Another Day, Brosnan wore the beefier Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean, which Q equipped with a bezel-activated trigger for a removable detonator and a laser in the crown.
The Daniel Craig James Bond era with Omega
With this short dialogue from the Casino Royale remake of 2006, the latest Bond – Daniel Craig – found his way into the hearts of watch fans wearing a Seamaster: one of two to be exact, the Seamaster Diver 300 M (Reference 2220.80) and the Seamaster Planet Ocean (Reference 2900.50.91).
In Quantum of Solace (2008) and Skyfall (2012), it is the larger Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M that he dons to defeat the bad guys.
The most recent adventure, 2015’s Spectre, saw him sporting the Omega Seamaster 300 Spectre and the Seamaster Aqua Terra. The next James Bond adventure is due out in 2019.
Craig also wears the brand on and off-screen as a testimonial, making Omega the “Bond choice” for a whole generation.
Naturally, it is possible to still obtain original-era examples of Bond’s various watches on the secondary market. For specifics and a meticulous listing of models, reference numbers, and estimated pricing purchase an electronic copy of Dell Deaton’s James Bond Watches Price Guide on amazon.com or visit his website.
Bond might have been wishing he had had Jaeger-LeCoultre’s transponder during Skyfall when his 1964 Aston Martin DB5 was blown to smithereens by the villainous Silva. It’s a good thing Marek Reichman assured me that the painful explosion was all CGI and that no Aston Martins – particularly vintage models – were harmed during filming.
I do wonder how many watches were destroyed on set over the last 56 years, though.
You might also enjoy:
How Rolex And Cartier Stole Seiko’s Groove In James Bond’s ‘A View To A Kill’
Pierce Brosnan And Peter Speake-Marin Talk About Resilience, ‘Survivor,’ Gratitude, And James Bond
BMW 750Li xDrive: Advanced Automotive Technology That Even James Bond Approves Of
Aston Martin DB11 Volante: James Bond Should Have Waited
The Sense And Non-Sense Of Watches In Movies
Complete Overview Of The Jaeger-LeCoultre Amvox Line
Also published on Medium.