Diving Watches: From Sports Watches to Certified Icons
James Bond: The sophisticated British spy with good looks and impeccable style, who travels to exotic places, surrounds himself with beautiful women, and enjoys the finer things in life, all while saving the world from demise. Who can blame a man for wanting the life of James Bond?
Many people know which watches James Bond has worn over the past fifty years; some brands and models have even become famous because of Bond. Perhaps just as interesting as looking back, however, is looking forward to which watches Bond could wear in films to come.
Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, came out in 1952. The author painted a portrait of a man with impeccable taste in cars and clothing, but there was no mention of any watch. It wasn’t until 1954 that an unspecified Rolex was mentioned in Live and Let Die.
Several years later, in the 1963 novel On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Fleming again described Bond’s watch, this time in more detail, as “…a heavy Rolex Oyster Perpetual on an expanding metal bracelet” with “big luminous numerals…”. Most people assume Bond was wearing a Rolex Explorer as Fleming wore one himself.
A different Rolex made an appearance in the first Bond movie, however. When Sean Connery first portrayed James Bond in Dr. No, he wore a Rolex Submariner. It was an early Submariner 6538 with a big crown without crown guards and without a date display. Several Bond experts believe that the watch actually belonged to the producer (or the director) and was given to Sean Connery to wear during filming since there was such a tight budget.
It should be mentioned that Bond also wore another watch in Dr. No and in several other films: a gold Gruen Precision 510 dress watch. For obvious reasons the legendary Rolex diving watch has received more attention as it is more fitting for the tough life of the world’s best-known secret agent.
Agent 007 stayed loyal to the Rolex Submariner in From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, and Thunderball, but the latter film also introduced another non-Rolex Bond watch: a (modified) Breitling Top Time. He used it when he needed a Geiger counter. A few years later, actor George Lazenby starred in his only Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in which he wore both a Rolex Submariner and a Rolex Chronograph 6238.
Larger changes started happening when Roger Moore took over as Bond. He wore a Submariner in Live and Let Die, though in the opening scene of the film, Bond is seen wearing a Hamilton Pulsar LED digital watch. This was Bond’s first choice marked by the quartz revolution, a step that doesn’t quite fit the James Bond character. Though Rolex watches never really disappeared from Bond movies, Roger Moore wore quite a few modified Seiko watches to help get Bond out of difficult situations.
In The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond wears a Seiko 0674LC that is able to deliver important messages from M to Bond. In Moonraker, Bond uses a Seiko M354 Memory Bank Calendar as an explosive to blast his way to freedom. In For Your Eyes Only, Bond uses a Seiko H357 Duo Display to communicate with his home base. This film featured the introduction of a new style of Seiko watches: the Seiko 7549-7009 Professional Divers’ watch. This demonstrated the diversity of the Japanese brand and replaced the Submariner as Bond’s diving watch in the film.
Interestingly, in A View to a Kill, Bond wears a Seiko Diver’s 150m during diving scenes and a Submariner for the rest of the movie. In Octopussy, Roger Moore wears a Seiko TV Watch. Once again, the watch was more a gadget than a styled element reflecting Bond’s persona.
Timothy Dalton made his first appearance in The Living Daylights wearing a Tag Heuer Professional Night-Dive. In his second Bond movie, 1989’s License To Kill, Dalton quickly changed to a Rolex Submariner. This was the last time James Bond was seen on screen wearing a Rolex watch.
Pierce Brosnan’s debut as Bond in GoldenEye marked the beginning of 007 wearing a range of Omega Seamaster models. Brosnan wore a quartz version of the Seamaster Professional 300M in GoldenEye, and he wore the updated automatic version of the same watch in Tomorrow Never Dies. This is the same watch that Brosnan wears in his final two movies as Bond, The World is not Enough and Die Another Day.
Daniel Craig first played Bond in Casino Royale, in which he wore two Omega Seamaster watches. The first, a Seamaster Professional 300M Co-Axial, was an updated version of the watch used by Pierce Brosnan in his role as Bond. The second was a Seamaster Planet Ocean Big Size. In Quantum of Solace, Bond continues to wear a watch from the Planet Ocean series: the Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M. This is the same watch he wears in Skyfall, though it’s a smaller version with a diameter of 42 mm instead of 45.5 mm. Skyfall was also the first movie to introduce a Seamaster Aqua Terra for dressier occasions.
Craig also wears the Aqua Terra in the opening scene of SPECTRE, but the true star is the Seamaster 300 Spectre: a limited edition model that Omega specifically released for the film. The watch was based on the original Seamaster 300 released in 1957 and features a characteristic NATO strap that was used on the Seamaster models provided to the Royal Navy in the 1960s; a link between Bond’s Royal Navy background and the history of the Omega and the Royal Navy.
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The Rolex Submariner will always be the watch that represents James Bond. It’s the watch that has been featured in the most Bond movies. Omega has also developed a strong connection with Bond over the last twenty years with the Seamaster models and the brand continues to develop watches that complement the style and character of Bond. However, let’s take this opportunity to fantasize a bit and consider possible alternative watches for Bond in coming films.
Bond is a man of style and tradition. Anything he wears is from very well respected high-end makers, but his attire is never over the top or too exclusive. Bond also likes to use state-of-the-art technologies that help him in difficult situations. A Bond watch needs to be practical and tough at the same time, similar to Bond’s character and his missions.
It would be easiest to simply find watches from reputable brands that fall into the same category as the Rolex Submariner and Omega Seamaster 300. The main problem with that methodology, however, is that these watches would be quite similar to former Bond watches and may not add anything extra. If a new Bond watch is selected, then it should bring something new to the table.
One possibility in the divers category is the IWC Aquatimer Chronograph. This watch introduces a more modern shape, has a rugged character, and includes a stopwatch function, which might come handy during certain missions. The watch is versatile: Bond could wear it diving in the ocean or during a high-speed chase in an exotic location – this is the ideal watch for a physical challenge.
A second option would be a professional Rolex-quality divers watch that isn’t a Rolex, like the mighty Tudor Pelagos. Since Tudor belongs to Rolex, they maintain similar levels of quality. The Pelagos is water-resistant up to 500 m, making it more robust than the Submariner, and it’s made of titanium which is tough and significantly lighter than steel. As the story goes, Ian Fleming was worried that a heavy steel watch would be impractical in a hand-to-hand fight; therefore the Tudor Pelagos could be the next generation Bond watch.
An alternate approach would be to give Bond a vintage piece. Bond is known to wear a tuxedo quite regularly; a nice vintage dress watch would suit the look perfectly. A vintage Patek Philippe, perhaps a family heirloom, would make a beautiful addition to the Bond watch family; for example, a yellow gold Patek Philippe Calatrava Reference 2584 from the 1950s on a beautiful black leather strap. Such a watch would be the ideal piece to tell the Bond family story. Even if it doesn’t have anything to do with his backstory or family, it’s reasonable to assume that Bond would be wearing a fine Patek dress watch with a tuxedo or dinner jacket. Given his rebellious character, James could also ignore the usual dress watch etiquette and choose an Audemars Royal Oak “Jumbo,” or even a Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph.
Last but not least, there are several Bond movies that end with 007 sailing away into the distance on a yacht in the company of a beautiful woman. A watch that would perfectly suit this situation is the IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph. This watch perfectly combines fine style and the sporty character of sailing.
Obviously there are countless other watches that Bond could wear in upcoming films; the possibilities are endless with a little imagination, but these are a few to get you started.
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