James Bond may be a fictional character, but his watches are very real.
Text: Britta Rossander
Bond’s history originated back in the 1950’s. The first moving pictures with James Bond were shown when “Casino Royale” was produced as a 50-minute TV series on CBS in 1954. Barry Nelson was the first actor ever to portray Bond.
Since the character has been active for so long, Bond has worn watches of many different brands and models. Many have been one-of-a-kind when it comes to technology, and the author Ian Fleming was one of the first to claim that the choice of brands show who we are through what we choose to wear. Fleming himself was very interested in luxury brands, and Bond’s watches play an important part in the novels, which is further augmented in the movies.
When the first Bond movie (”Dr No”, 1962) was about to be filmed, producer Albert Broccoli got in touch with Rolex’ headquarters in Switzerland. He got a cool reception. Rolex did not want to be involved with some movie agent and turned down any ideas of co-operation. The movie was shot on a tight budget, and Broccoli ended up letting Sean Connery use his personal 1958 Rolex Big Crown. A watch like that costs around 300,000 SEK on today’s secondhand market, but this particular Rolex is still in the Broccoli family’s possession and is practically priceless.
Bond wore Rolex until 1974 even though there was never any deal between the watchmaker and the movie company. The only exception during this period was in “Thunderball” from 1965 where Bond suddenly shows up on a beach wearing a Breitling on his wrist.
In the second half of the 1970’s, the Japanese took over the market for watches – including 007’s wrist. The agent with a license to kill did it wearing a Seiko from 1977 to 1985. Roger Moore was the last Bond to wear a Seiko in “A View to Kill”, filmed in 1985.
At the shooting of “The Living Daylights” with Timothy Dalton, there was once again a Rolex on the agent’s wrist, just like in “License to Kill” from 1989. Six years later it’s time for Bond to be portrayed by Pierce Brosnan in “Golden Eye” and this is when the deal with Omega took shape. Broccoli had chosen another Swiss watch producer, and the brand doesn’t mind reaping the benefits.
The movie’s costume manager, Linda Hemming, said before the premiere: “Sean Connery wore Rolex – it looked good and right at the time, but we have chosen Omega for a more sophisticated Euro look with a minimalistic character which suits the new Bond better.”
This may not be the whole truth. The deal generated a lot of income to the movie, but many also claim that the Omega Seamaster was probably the watch that Ian Fleming himself would have chosen.
To Omega, the co-operation with agent 007 has been a lucrative deal. The Seamaster is very popular and there have been plenty of limited runs. The watch that Daniel Craig wore in “Casino Royale” in 2006 was sold at an Omega auction for 360,000 SEK – a dirty and scratched steel watch with a rubber wristband!
With the 24th Bond movie coming up, Omega has presented a new limited Seamaster Aqua Terra model in steel. The case has a 41,5 mm diameter and is waterproof to 150 meters. The back of the case has a sapphire glass that shows off the movement, a Master Co-Axial caliber 8507 that can withstand magnetic fields of up to 15,007 gauss. Because of this, the number produced will be 15,007 units and they come with a four-year warranty.