Thanks Eddie, I cannot think of higher praise.
However, I am hoping to wring a bit more out of the thread first...
So, as it stands, I think that we have three, perhaps four credible watches (did they ever make a perpetual Commando?)
1) The Submariner (anyone fancy making a list of the potential versions that are in the frame?)
2) the Explorer
3) Some sort of Bubbleback
Something I said earlier has been echoing around my brain all day at work... The Explorer clearly had a proto-Explorer which, in that classic Rolex transitional evolution sort of way, would have shared a number of features with both older and newer models. Can anyone shed any light on these 'proto-Explorers'. (Now that Eddie has said he will be moving this into classic posts you are guaranteed immortality for your efforts!)
In (weak) support of this, as Fleming has Leiter say to Bond in Thunderball: 'You're still wearing that old wristwatch of yours with the big phosphorous numerals'. In 1961 the Explorer would be largely unchanged from the fifties. While Leiter might simply have been saying that it was merely old to Bond, it is possible that he was highlighting - or rather that Fleming was highlighting - that Bond was making a deliberate and anachronistic choice. This was a choice he was still making in 1963, radiation threat or not. Fleming clearly also made anachronistic choices when he wore the trench watches and small 30mm WWW watches that we see in some of his photographs.
However, so much for theory; time for some more photographs!
To have a shot at the size of the watch on Fleming's wrist I offer you a piss poor portfolio of painfully posed photographs of watches from 29mm to 36mm. To put them in context I have a seven inch wrist apparently.
Before anyone makes a snooty comment about the Alpha Explorer homage, I just want to make it clear that it is hardly crap at all. The hands move and everything! It is the perfect watch for mountaineering, car maintenance and throwing at cats. At just under three bob it is also nearly almost a bargain. I have done all three with it and it hasn't broken yet.
Actually, I have a confession to make. I was entertaining the idea of driving down to Swindon, taking a photograph of a certain well known grave and then coming home, and photographing the Alpha in a hole, covered in mud and artfully poised between a couple of chicken leg bones. The plan would have been to post the resulting photographs under the headline: Bond watch mystery solved, shock revelation! Unfortunately, the beloved used her Women's Intuition to divine that this was a Bad Idea and vetoed the mission in favour of Ikea... Curses.
Ok, back to you, gentlemen. (And Eddie, if the paragraph above is as bad an idea as She says, feel free to mod away.)