The On- And Off-Screen Watches Of Brosnan, Pierce Brosnan
by Martin Green
Pierce Brosnan’s career is an interesting one, and so are the watches that have accompanied him on his journey.
Born in 1953 in County Meath, Ireland, he moved to London when he was 11. At the age of 20 he started his acting education in the Oval House, and later went to the Drama Center in London. He performed on stage in several West End productions, but his career really took off when he moved to Los Angeles in 1982. There he was cast as Remington Steele in the NBC television series of the same name.
Initially, the show’s namesake was planned as a small sidekick role, but Brosnan’s character proved to be so popular with viewers that from season two he became one of the leading figures.
Remington Steele’s choice
Remington Steele was a refined, upper class detective, almost a bit of a dandy, and his choice in watches certainly suited the role. He wears two of them very prominently in various episodes. The first is a yellow gold, black-dialed Rolex Cellini on a black strap (see Does Rolex Make Dress Watches? The Cellini Range Answers That With A Resounding Yes).
This is a stylish and understated choice that goes very well with his three-piece suits. However, I have yet to identify exactly which reference it is. It is entirely surprising how many books and articles have been dedicated to the history of various Rolex models, while practically entirely excluding the most elegant of Rolex’s wristwatches.
Remington Steele’s other choice was THE watch of the 1980s: the Cartier Panthère. The extremely popular Panthère featured Cartier’s Figaro bracelet and was available with one, two, or three rows of gold links with the rest in brushed stainless steel or full gold. It was also available in full stainless steel.
Remington Steele wore the version with three rows of gold links, today among the rarer Panthère configurations (see Why Is The Panther Cartier’s Pet Animal? Thank Jeanne Toussaint).
Tai-pan, Bond, and other Cartier fanatics of the early 1990s
At this point in his career it seemed that Brosnan really enjoyed wearing Cartier. In 1988, he starred in the mini-series Noble House, based on the novel by James Clavell. Playing tycoon Ian Dunross, he is the tai-pan (a senior business executive in China or Hong Kong) of international trading company Struan. Here he can be seen wearing a yellow gold Pasha de Cartier on a strap.
There is also a yellow gold Pasha de Cartier around his wrist in 1994 when he signed to become James Bond the first time.
The “first” time? Yes, because Pierce Brosnan was initially supposed to follow Roger Moore in the succession of Bond actors. NBC had decided to stop Remington Steele in 1986, leaving Brosnan free to do so. However, as soon as he signed on all the press surrounding it increased the public’s interest in Remington Steele, and NBC decided to continue the show and keep Brosnan tied to a clause in his contract for another season. This, of course, meant losing the role of James Bond to Timothy Dalton, while Remington Steele only completed a short final season of six episodes instead of the normal twenty-two.
Interesting is that the two gold Pashas he wore in this era are not the same watch. In Noble House he wears the one with the smooth bezel, but when he signed on for James Bond he wore the later model with diver’s bezel. Presumably, his taste evolved over during the years – or the one in Noble House was actually suggested and provided by the prop department and Brosnan liked it so much he got one of his own.
The James Bond era
Starting with 1995’s GoldenEye two things happened: Brosnan finally became James Bond, and Omega acquired the rights to become the official watch supplier to the James Bond franchise.
Their choice was the Omega Seamaster Professional, initially the quartz version, but later on the automatic Chronometer version. A new legend was born, and rumors have it that the sales of the Omega Seamaster increased tenfold.
Throughout his career as the world’s most famous secret agent, Brosnan would wear the Seamaster Professional. Brosnan was also involved with Omega privately as an ambassador, appearing on advertisements featuring the Omega Dynamic and Constellation models.
Although that involvement ended when he stopped playing Bond after his fourth turn as the agent in 2002’s Die Another Day, he still seems to be quite fond of the Omega Seamaster Professional and is frequently seen in the gossip pages wearing it, especially on more casual occasions.
Other wrist props
However, Brosnan’s love of watches clearly went further than Omega and Cartier.
In 1999, he starred in The Thomas Crown Affair, a remake of the 1968 movie of the same name featuring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. Co-starring alongside Rene Russo, Brosnan is Thomas Crown, a wealthy businessman who is so bored he amuses himself with stealing art.
In the movie, Brosnan appears to be wearing a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Duo. The watch is prominently visible in various scenes, but if you get a chance to look at it in close-up you would notice that brand and model name have been removed from the dial.
This was probably because Brosnan was still under contract with Omega. Since he was still under contract as James Bond as well, he was also not allowed to wear a full tuxedo in any other movie – which is why at a Bulgari-sponsored ball in the movie his bow tie is loose and his shirt is partially unbuttoned.
In 2004, now no longer bound by contract to Omega, he had a lot of fun in After The Sunset with Woody Harrelson. On his wrist is a Panerai Luminor Reference PAM 00091 that not only gets generous screen time, but is also discussed on several occasions in the movie.
One of the other leading roles in that movie was played by Salma Hayek, who in 2009 married François-Henri Pinault, chairman of Kering, a conglomerate that now owns among other brands Girard-Perregaux, Gucci, and Ulysse Nardin.
Personal watches or not?
It’s always a bit unclear whether Brosnan wears his personal watches on screen or not, but it most certainly seems that way to me. On several occasions he was seen wearing a gold Girard-Perregaux Vintage 1945 prior to wearing it on screen in the 2012 movie Love is All You Need.
However, when the movie played at the 69th Venice Film Festival in 2012, Brosnan arrived wearing another beautiful watch: the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Squadra Hometime in 18-karat pink gold.
While his passion for fine watchmaking isn’t necessarily too clearly defined to the general public, it became a lot clearer once he met Peter Speake-Marin, who helped him prepare for his role in the 2015 Hollywood film Survivor. In this film his character is a watchmaker . . . and a hit man.
According to Brosnan’s Instagram account, the independent English watchmaker living in Switzerland and the renowned Irish movie star hit it off right away, with Brosnan now not only spotted regularly on the red carpet with a Speake-Marin Resilience on his wrist, but also officially acting as the brand’s official ambassador (see Confirmed: Pierce Brosnan New Ambassador for Speake-Marin).
Apparently, with his colorful career came an array of impressive watches, both on and off screen – sort of the same way some Hollywood stars tend to fall for their leading ladies during filming.
Is this a tradition Brosnan will continue to carry on? Maybe with a Speake-Marin on his wrist in the long-expected sequel to the Thomas Crown Affair?
Time will tell!
* This article was first published on August 8, 2016 at The On- And Off-Screen Watches Of Brosnan, Pierce Brosnan.