Is James Bond a defector? In terms of watches, he's often switched sides. Rolex and Omega are the most famous brands to have graced Bond's wrist. The Submariner and the Seamaster have accompanied him on countless missions.
Whoever wants to buy a modern James Bond watch ends up with a Omega Seamaster. Since 1995, the British secret agent has been wearing diving watches from this collection. Omega introduced a special version of the Seamaster for the film Spectre in 2015.
Jean-Claude Biver, former CEO of Omega, made a deal with the Bond film producers in the mid-1990s. Golden Eye was the first film to feature Pierce Brosnan wearing a Seamaster on his wrist. In the film, Brosnan wore a Seamaster Professional 300 M with a quartz movement, helium escape valve, stainless steel case, and stainless steel bracelet. This model with reference number 2541.80.00 is no longer available from Omega. You can find this watch most often on online marketplaces such as Chrono24. This also applies to the Planet Ocean with reference number 2900.50.91, which appeared for the first time in Casino Royale (2006). It was the first watch worn by Daniel Craig as Bond. For many Bond fans, the Seamaster was initially an unusual sight. Bond had never worn an Omega before. In the 60s and early 70s, Bond wore a Rolex, though he had also worn Breitling and Gruen.
|Dr. No||Rolex Submariner 6538||Sean Connery||1962||Starting at 40,000 euros|
|Thunderball||Breitling Top Time 2002.3 / N||Sean Connery||1965||-|
|Live and Let Die||Hamilton Pulsar P2 2900||Roger Moore||1973||Starting at 300 euros|
|The Spy Who Loved Me||Seiko DK001 (0674 5009)||Roger Moore||1977||Starting at 300 euros|
|The Living Daylights||TAG Heuer 980.031 "Night Dive"||Timothy Dalton||1987||Starting at 400 euros|
|Golden Eye||Omega Seamaster Professional 300 M||Pierce Brosnan||1995||Starting at 1,400 euros|
|Casino Royale||Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean||Daniel Craig||2006||Starting at 3,000 euros|
|Spectre||Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150 M||Daniel Craig||2015||Starting at 7,500 euros|
Sean Connery wore a Rolex Submariner in the very first James Bond film, Dr. No. Most experts agree that this first watch was the model with reference number 6538. Distinctive features are its big crown and missing crown guard, as well as a relatively thick case. Watches with reference numbers 6200, 6538A, an 5510 are also possibilities, as they're outwardly very similar to the 6538.
Today, manufacturers pay massive sums to place their products in James Bond films. Today, it seems almost unbelievable that Rolex wasn't very enthusiastic about the use of the Submariner in the first few films. When the film crew asked if Rolex could perhaps produce a few watches as props, they refused. Rolex wanted very little to do with an unknown, obscure British secret agent. Thus, producer Albert R. Broccoli used his own Rolex Submariner. The watch is still in the family today.
There were a few reasons why James Bond had to wear a Rolex. First, modesty was never James Bond's style. The sporty luxury watch looked sleek and hip and suited Bond's tailored suits, shaken martinis, and fast cars such as the Aston Martin DB5. Second, there was a literary precedent. Bond author Ian Fleming (1908 - 1964) published his first Bond book, Casino Royale, in 1953. In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, published in 1963, Bond was described as wearing a watch from the Rolex Oyster Perpetual collection. However, the book speaks of a watch with large, luminous numerals and a metal bracelet. Therefore, most interpret that Bond isn't wearing a Submariner, but an Explorer, similar to the watch Fleming wore himself. The Explorer is not the most well-known Bond watch, but it is the most authentic.
Which James Bond watch is the best for you? That depends on whether you want to wear it as an everyday watch or keep it as a collector's item – or maybe both. Since Mr. Bond isn't very careful with his gadgets, his watches need to be robust and waterproof. It's no surprise that this clever Brit almost exclusively uses diving watches.
One of the Bond watches in the 2015 movie Spectre is the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150 M. The 41.5-mm stainless steel watch has a blue dial and is waterproof to 150 m (15 bar). It's powered by the Co-Axial caliber 8500, which is resistant to magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss. This Aqua Terra's reference number is 126.96.36.199.03.004. It costs about 5,000 euros new and is limited to a run of 15,007.
The other Bond watch seen in Spectre is the Seamaster 300 Spectre. This watch is also a limited edition with a run of 7,007, making it likely to become highly sought after in the future. The Seamaster 300 Spectre has a 41-mm stainless steel case and a grey/black striped NATO strap. It's waterproof to 300 m (30 bar). The Co-Axial caliber 8400 powers the watch. You can find this watch under the reference number 188.8.131.52.01.001, but there are few available. You should be prepared to spend around 7,500 euros for this watch.
The 300 M featured in the 1995 film Golden Eye (reference number 2541.80.00) is much more affordable. It's available in very good condition for about 2,000 euros.
The Rolex Submariners from early Bond years have been the epitome of a sought-after vintage watch for years. They're in high demand and expensive, and you probably shouldn't use them underwater. Many models end up in private safes or being stored at the bank. It's difficult to give a price estimate for a Submariner 6538 from the late 1950s. The price depends heavily on the condition of the watch and certain details. It's not unusual for a watch in good condition to cost around 40,000 euros. If it's a particularly rare version, such as one without a depth gauge on the dial, the price can go up to 140,000 euros. In comparison, a new stainless steel Submariner from the current collection without a date display costs around 6,500 euros.
James Bond's equipment has often been ahead of its time. For example, in the 1964 film Goldfinger, James Bond has a navigation system in the Aston Martin he drives to chase his enemy.
Quartz technology was surging in popularity in the 1970s, and it was clear that Bond needed to join the trend. In the 1973 film Live and Let Die, he wore a Hamilton Pulsar P2 2900. It displays the time digitally via red LED numerals when you press a button. The rest of the time, the display remains dark.
In Live and Let Die, both mechanical and electronic watches are used. The Submariner experienced its big return in impressive form with many special features. Bond uses its powerful, integrated magnet many times, including to open the zipper of Miss Caruso's evening gown when it gets in the way of the task at hand. The Submariner with reference number 5513 has a bezel which can spin rapidly and be used as a mini-saw. Bond, played by Roger Moore, uses it to free himself in a sticky situation. The modified Submariner used in the film was sold for 335,000 euros at an auction in Geneva in November 2015.
Seiko watches were the Bond watches of the 70s and 80s. In The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Bond wears a Seiko 0674 5009. An LED display like the one on the Pulsar from 1973 was already outdated by this point. The Seiko displays the time continuously with liquid crystal, the way quartz watches still function today. This Bond watch is also equipped with special functions. It can receive short text messages and print them out on a thin strip of paper. This is how Bond knows when he should get in contact with headquarters and his boss, M.
The Seiko used in the next adventure (Moonraker, 1979) is an SFX003 (M354-5019) with an integrated database. Its extras, however, were only made for the film. Of course, a built-in explosive device as well as five explosive and poisonous darts were not features available to the general public. In Octopussy (1983), a Seiko G757 5020 Sports 100 with sender/receiver technology helps Bond track down a priceless Fabergé egg. Bond used quartz Seiko watches until the 1985 film A View to a Kill. However, these Japanese watches haven't become beloved, iconic Bond watches like the Rolex timepieces have.
Bond switched to a diving watch with a TAG Heuer timepiece, reference number 980.031. It has one distinctive feature: The entire dial is made of luminous material, earning it the nickname Night Dive. The change accompanied a shift in actors, too. Timothy Dalton was the new Bond. However, Dalton wore a Rolex Submariner (reference number 16610) in 1989's License to Kill. Afterwards, the Omega era with Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig began.
A few other watches have been used in the Bond films, such as a Gruen Precision (model 510) in Dr. No, From Russia With Love, and Goldfinger. In Thunderball (1965), Bond searches for stolen atom bombs and measures the radioactivity with a Breitling Top Time 2002.3 / N, which was equipped with a Geiger counter by the MI6 weapons master, Q.
Some sources also cite the Rolex GMT Master as a Bond watch. Bond wears this watch in the 1967 parody Casino Royale with Peter Sellers, David Niven, and Ursula Andress, who was also in Dr. No. In the 007 film, Pussy Galore, Auric Goldfinger's head pilot, wears a Rolex GMT Master with reference number 6542. Another famous pilot's watch worn by a Bond enemy is the Breitling Navitimer with reference number 806. Pilot Angelo Palazzi wears it in Thunderball. He helps the two villains Ernst Stavro Blofeld and Emilio Largo acquire atomic bombs. Palazzi murders a NATO pilot, François Derval, steals his Navitimer, and takes his place in the cockpit.
Bond isn't the only one who enjoyed wearing Rolex. In The Man with the Golden Gun, killer Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) wears a Rolex Cellini King Midas. The Cellini is one of the few dress watches used in the James Bond films.