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Thread: What Watch Did James Bond Really Wear?

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  1. #1
    Master
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    What Watch Did James Bond Really Wear?

    Neil.C has asked me to post this here, it is the condensed and tidied version of a discussion that occurred on another forum and is is my personal contribution to the debate concerning which watch James Bond wears.

    To get the easy stuff out of the way, here is a list of some of the watches he wears in the movies. This is not exhaustive but it does give the central Bond Watch of each film, unless some smartarse wants to prove to me that I am wrong.

    Quote:
    Dr. No……………………………………Rolex Submariner..1
    From Russia With Love ………………….Rolex Submariner..2
    Goldfinger ………………………………..Rolex Submariner..3
    You Only Live Twice …………………….Rolex Submariner..4
    Thunderball ……………………………….Rolex Submariner..5 Brietling... 1
    On Her Majesty's Secret Service ………….Rolex Submariner..6 Rolex Chronograph...1
    Diamonds Are Forever …………………… No watch seen
    The Man With the Golden Gun …………...Rolex Submariner..8
    Live & Let Die …………………………….Rolex Submariner..9 Pulsar ... 1
    The Spy Who Loved Me …………………..Seiko ..1
    For Your Eyes Only ……………………….Seiko..2
    Octopussy ………………………………….Seiko..3
    A View to a Kill ……………………………Seiko..4
    The Living Daylights ………………………Rolex Submariner..10
    Licence to Kill ……………………………...Rolex Submariner..11
    Goldeneye ………………………………….Omega Seamaster Professional..1
    Tomorrow Never Dies ……………………..Omega Seamaster Professional..2
    The World is Not Enough ………………….Omega Seamaster Professional..3
    Die Another Day …………………………...Omega Seamaster Professional..4
    Casino Royale……………………………….Omega Planet Ocean..1 Omeega Seamaster Professional..4
    Quantum of Solace………………………….Omega Planet Ocean..2

    So, assuming I can count: that's eleven to Rolex, seven to Omega four to Seiko, one to Brietling and one to Pulsar. So, that’s the films dealt with. That was easy. Sorry Omega fans, the fact is that Rolex is the cinematic Bond manufacture by eleven to seven. Now we know that Seiko and Omega have Bond watches for the simple reason that the companies in question paid Eon a vast sum of money to place their products on Bond’s wrist. As the shift from the nasty Seiko quartz to the SeMP and then to the PO demonstrates nicely, Bond’s wrist has become little more than a display mounting for whichever company will front up the dosh.



    Don't get me wrong, I love my SeMP. I Just don't see the Bond connection as terribly real.

    However, another fact is that Rolex have rather publicly not paid Eon or the Broccoli family a penny and yet one specific watch from their stable is the de facto Bond Watch: the Rolex Submariner. The Rolex Submariner is, without doubt, the default Bond watch. There is even a story that, when asked, Rolex declined to give Eon a Rolex to furnish Bond’s wrist and that, on the set, Cubby Broccoli took off his own personal Rolex Submariner and offered it to Sean Connery. I have tried to find some confirmation of this story but it starts to look like an urban myth. However, the assumption for the first nine Bond films, before his wrist was hired out to the highest bidder, is that Bond wore as Submariner.

    For the curious, these two links are pretty interesting:

    http://www.hmss.com/qbranch/0202.htm

    http://members.optusnet.com.au/heliosz/jamesbond.html

    So much for the films, what about the books?

    Well this looks pretty simple too. There are a couple of mentions of Rolex scattered through the books, but the most detailed description of the watch that Bond wore comes chapters fifteen and sixteen of the 1963 classic: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (OHMSS) Bond’s watch is described as a:
    “Rolex Oyster Perpetual Chronometer on an expanding metal bracelet”. Bond then uses the watch in question as a knuckle duster, breaking the crystal and, immediately afterwards, is considering what to replace it with. As the quote goes:

    "A Rolex? Probably. They were on the heavy side, but they work. And at least you could see the time in the dark with those big phosphorous numerals".

    So, how many heavy Rolex Oyster Perpetual Chronometers with big phosphorus numerals are there?

    Well, On the face of it, one: the Rolex Submariner. This has been the received wisdom for as long as I can remember. However, I'm not sure the case is as open and shut as it seems...

    Initially I had two problems:

    one: the idea of a Submariner on an expanding bracelet seemed a bit odd. However, there’s no accounting for taste. Especially from a man who habitually wore short sleeved shirts with a bow tie!

    Two: the modern Submariner has either round spots of lume (or indices) but no ‘big phosphorus numerals’. For this reason, I initially thought that the Submariner could not be the watch Fleming described. However, as Neil.C pointed out to me, for the first four or five years, All Submariners sold in the UK came with three large luminous numerals at three, six and nine. In addition this apparently remained an optional extra until the nineteen seventies.

    So here is an early example. This one doesn’t say chronometer but slightly later ones did…

    http://www.theoldwatchshop.co.uk/collpics/Dscn8429.jpg

    As a result, it is pretty clear that when you get right down to it, there is really only one watch that fulfils all of those criteria: the early Rolex Submariner. So it looks like case closed.

    However, before Neil pointed this out to me I had gone off on a very different track and one I have never seen mentioned before anywhere. There is one other watch that fulfils all of those criteria apart from the ‘being on the heavy side’ one. The Rolex Explorer I.

    Here’s what an early one looks like:
    http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?imgur ... n%26sa%3DN

    The problem is that it is an undeniable fact that no one today would describe the Explorer as ‘being on the heavy side’. The Explorer started life at 34mm and has slowly evolved to being a mere 36mm today. However, reflecting upon this, I realised that we are not talking about today’s tastes, we are talking about the tastes of people way back in 1962.

    So, in 1962 would the Explorer I have appeared heavy? Well, let’s just say tastes have changed a bit since the Second World War. The easiest way to demonstrate just how radically things have changed is through a gratuitous photograph, so here is:



    This is a range of military and 'gentlemens' watches from 1939 to the present day. As you can see the trend is one of constant growth, layer by layer, from the smallest, a 29mm Girard Perregaux to a fairly chunky 39mm Poljot and beyond. By 1962 a complication free 34mm watch would be a large watch and, compared to the average, it would appear very chunky indeed. Of course, there will always be exceptions and, for example, specialist 'tool' watches such as the Submariner Divers watch or Speedmaster Chronograph would just have been considered stupidly large at the time.

    (Some of the watches here are later homage models by the same maker: the Hamilton, O&W and 1-MWC and yes, the FL has had a vile redial)

    Thus the fact that the Explorer, now at 36mm, looks gracile today does not detract from the fact that in 1962 at 34 or 35mm it would have been considered a large, even heavy, watch. I do not claim certainty. However, I think there is a good case for claiming that this puts the Explorer right back in the frame for being the original Bond watch. So now there are two suspects: the Explorer and the Submariner

    There is another strand of supporting evidence. While the Submariner came on a variety of straps it did not come on an expanding metal strap. The Explorer did; the strap looked like this:



    This may become quite important further down the page.

    Then it struck me: Fleming modelled much of Bond's taste and wardrobe upon his own , He even had basically the same rank and back story as his character. He was famously rather vain and would have been conceited enough to imagine Bond as wearing the same watch as he did.

    This got me wondering: what watch did Ian Fleming himself wear?

    That's a real question with a real answer... and I found it!

    Let’s be clear, Fleming wore quite a few different watches, including, for example, what looks like an early forties (30 or 32mm) military Omega. However, sitting in the National Portrait Gallery in London there is a rather nice portrait of the man himself. It was painted, I have been informed, in 1962 as the cover picture for OHMSS.

    In other words the watch in the picture is the watch that Fleming would have been wearing when he wrote the book and the watch he chose to wear for the publicity picture used on the cover of the book. Interesting…

    Here it is.

    http://picasaweb.google.com/charlesvill ... 8949900418

    And he's wearing a watch...

    http://picasaweb.google.com/charlesvill ... 7647106866

    Now, this isn't going to be any old watch. We already know that Fleming cared about watches. Well, when being painted for posterity, and the cover of his new book, He would be wearing his best. Wouldn't you?

    That looks to me like an Explorer I...

    Lets see, first things first: it is definitely not a Submariner unless the bezel has fallen off and it has shrunk! That's a 34mm watch or thereabouts, it's not on a standard fixoflex style expanding bracelet but it does look like it’s on a bracelet a whole lot like the Rolex expanding bracelet pictured above. What else? Well I think I see the give-away ball of 'Mercedes' hands and a mixture of numerals and markers.

    There's no date and there is a bunch of writing in exactly the right place (for an Explorer) at the bottom. The writing at the top is missing, but I think that the artist would have missed it out as it would have undermined the hands and made the watch look too busy.

    So, as a reminder, here’s an explorer from the correct period:

    http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/3338520

    and here is the modern version:

    http://www.rolex.com/en/collection/r...explorer/index

    There simply isn't any other watch that combines the three luminous numbers, the Mercedes hands, the size, the bracelet, the writing in exactly the right place and a complete lack of the black numbered bezel found on the Sub. I think we have identified the very watch that Fleming wore:

    The Rolex 'Explorer I' Oyster Perpetual Chronometer.


    So, now we know what Fleming wore on the very cover of OHMSS and almost certainly wore while writing the book. However, is it the watch that he imagined onto the arm of his creation? Well, that’s the question. Personally I think that now we have identified the watch that Fleming wore everything slips into place nicely.

    Think about the psychology of the man. He imagined Bond into the clothes he wore, had him drink the drinks he liked, gave him a similar back story and identical rank. He even named one of the Bond books (Goldeneye) after his own house! It seems clear to me that James Bond was, to some degree, Ian Fleming’s alter ego and that Fleming, apparently a fairly vain man with refined tastes, would have wanted his creation, like himself, to have the very best of everything. Thus, I find it hard to believe that Bond's watch would be anything less than the very watch Fleming was wearing as he wrote OHMSS and chose to wear on the publicity pictures for that very book.

    In other words, it is my contention that James Bond wore exactly the watch that his creator wore. Thus, if you want the original Bond Watch, as worn by Ian Fleming and thus, in an act of hubris, imagined onto the wrist of James Bond, you want a Rolex Explorer I on an original Rolex expanding metal bracelet.

    Mystery solved?

    Personally I think that, tongue in cheek, had the man had any patriotism at all he would have imagined Bond wearing a Smiths... Perhaps a nice Imperial or Astral. As the ascent of Everest showed, An English Gentleman would wear a Smiths in extremis. The Explorer, on the other hand, was quite sufficient to be worn by his sherpa!



    or even the full Monty



    Or at least a high quality homage... Eh Eddie?

  2. #2
    Craftsman Paul J's Avatar
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    What Watch Did James Bond Really Wear?

    Thanks Matt!

  3. #3
    Master
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    This post is epic, what a read

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Macca View Post
    This post is epic, what a read
    Cheers!

    If you want more, you might enjoy post 24 here.

    http://forums.watchuseek.com/f20/cor...ap-753434.html

    Post 36 links to some more frivolous stuff that amuses me too...

    There's a fairly cool postscript to that row:



    Courtesy of Eddie, the 'Real Bond' strap now exists and is for sale on the Timefactors website. It looks great!

  5. #5
    Master
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    Cheers for that, very good thread on wus, actually I am a bond fan but knew little of the watches so it's nice to learn something new

  6. #6
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Macca View Post
    Cheers for that, very good thread on wus, actually I am a bond fan but knew little of the watches so it's nice to learn something new
    Personally I think it's a bloody awful thread on WUS -the comparison between the cooperative way a bunch of people of TZ - UK worked together to try to get to the best solution possible stands in stark contrast to the series of absolute train wrecks that occurred on WUS.

  7. #7
    Grand Master Seamaster73's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M4tt View Post
    Personally I think it's a bloody awful thread on WUS -the comparison between the cooperative way a bunch of people of TZ - UK worked together to try to get to the best solution possible stands in stark contrast to the series of absolute train wrecks that occurred on WUS.
    It was ever thus.

  8. #8
    Master adzman808's Avatar
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    (I came to this thread as M4tt mentioned it in another thread)

    The trouble with using OHMSS for reference material RE Bond is that Fleming was influenced at this point by the Film

    Fleming takes the trouble to strengthen and establish links between novel Bond and film Bond in OHMSS

    (Scottish ancestry, Ursula Andress dining at Blofeld's lair)

    There are also many false quotes from the novels RE Rolex, Rolex is very sparsely mentioned in the books

    Here's what I could find, titles are abbreviated, apologies if I missed any (I used find function in Calibre)

    CR

    No mention

    LALD

    He looked at the Rolex watch on his wrist. It was three minutes pasteleven o’clock

    MR

    No Mention


    DAF

    No mention

    FRWL

    No mention

    DN

    No mention

    GF

    No mention

    FYEO

    No Mention

    TB

    No mention of Bond's rolex, only the Petacchi character


    TSWLM

    No mention


    OHMSS

    and his wrist-watch, a heavy Rolex Oyster Perpetual on an expanding metal bracelet

    He sat down and bent to his paper-work and tried not to listen to the hastening tick of the Rolex on his wrist,

    through the fingers of the left hand and the Rolex transferred to his right, the bracelet clasped in the palm of his hand and round the fingers so that the face of the watch lay across his middle knuckles

    Bond's right flashed out and the face of the Rolex disintegrated against the man's jaw

    Bond lifted his left wrist. Remembered that he no longer had a watch. That he would certainly be allowed on expenses. He would get another one as soon as the shops opened after Boxing Day. Another Rolex? Probably. They were on the heavy side, but they worked. And at least you could see the time in the dark with those big phosphorus numerals.

    He glanced at the new Rolex on his wrist - the shops were still shut and he had had to blarney it out of Q Branch **

    YOLT

    No mention

    TMWTGG

    No mention

    O&TLD

    No mention (I didn't check 007 in NY)

    **Implies Bond had access to Rolex via Q branch.

    But with the exception of the single line in LALD, Fleming does not mention Bond and Rolex until after Dr. No (movie) is released......

    Lets not forget....

    Bond is a fictional character
    Fleming also wrote that you could die being covered in paint, that bond had a fight with a giant squid & that homosexual men can't whistle, so lets not get too carried away about the importance of this [says the man who just trawled through his entire e-library of Bond books]

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by adzman808 View Post
    (I came to this thread as M4tt mentioned it in another thread)

    The trouble with using OHMSS for reference material RE Bond is that Fleming was influenced at this point by the Film

    Fleming takes the trouble to strengthen and establish links between novel Bond and film Bond in OHMSS

    (Scottish ancestry, Ursula Andress dining at Blofeld's lair)

    There are also many false quotes from the novels RE Rolex, Rolex is very sparsely mentioned in the books

    Here's what I could find, titles are abbreviated, apologies if I missed any (I used find function in Calibre)

    CR

    No mention

    LALD

    He looked at the Rolex watch on his wrist. It was three minutes pasteleven o’clock

    MR

    No Mention


    DAF

    No mention

    FRWL

    No mention

    DN

    No mention

    GF

    No mention

    FYEO

    No Mention

    TB

    No mention of Bond's rolex, only the Petacchi character


    TSWLM

    No mention


    OHMSS

    and his wrist-watch, a heavy Rolex Oyster Perpetual on an expanding metal bracelet

    He sat down and bent to his paper-work and tried not to listen to the hastening tick of the Rolex on his wrist,

    through the fingers of the left hand and the Rolex transferred to his right, the bracelet clasped in the palm of his hand and round the fingers so that the face of the watch lay across his middle knuckles

    Bond's right flashed out and the face of the Rolex disintegrated against the man's jaw

    Bond lifted his left wrist. Remembered that he no longer had a watch. That he would certainly be allowed on expenses. He would get another one as soon as the shops opened after Boxing Day. Another Rolex? Probably. They were on the heavy side, but they worked. And at least you could see the time in the dark with those big phosphorus numerals.

    He glanced at the new Rolex on his wrist - the shops were still shut and he had had to blarney it out of Q Branch **

    YOLT

    No mention

    TMWTGG

    No mention

    O&TLD

    No mention (I didn't check 007 in NY)

    **Implies Bond had access to Rolex via Q branch.

    But with the exception of the single line in LALD, Fleming does not mention Bond and Rolex until after Dr. No (movie) is released......

    Lets not forget....

    Bond is a fictional character
    Fleming also wrote that you could die being covered in paint, that bond had a fight with a giant squid & that homosexual men can't whistle, so lets not get too carried away about the importance of this [says the man who just trawled through his entire e-library of Bond books]
    Sorry, are you implying that some of the quotes I used are false? Perhaps you can specify the quotes, because guess what:



    I do primary research by hand unless I have no other alternative. Inthis case, I read all the books and used a pencil to mark references. You have missed a few, as there are plenty of lines that identify the same watch without explicitly calling it a Rolex; for example:

    'You're still wearing that old wristwatch of yours with the big phosphorous numerals....Put your watch right up against the counter. See! The sweephand is getting all excited. Move your hand away and it loses interest. It's those phosphorous numerals of yours. Remember the other day one of the watch companies withdrew an air-pilot's watch from the market because the Atomic Energy people got fussy? Same thing. They thought this particular pilot's watch, with the big phosphorous numerals, was giving off too much radiation to be good for the wearer.'
    Obviously they are a bit harder to dig out, but they are there to find.

    Try this, it's a little more detailed:

    http://forums.watchuseek.com/f45/wha...ux-298155.html

    I think that my account is premised upon the fact that Bond is fictional.

  10. #10
    Craftsman eletos's Avatar
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    Just watching Live and Let Die:



  11. #11
    Journeyman
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    So Bond basically 'flipped'!

  12. #12
    I just discovered this 7 year old gem, great read!

    Wish the Bond series returned to Rolex, where it belongs in my heart..

  13. #13
    Master
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    The third watch at the end of SPECTRE (dont blink you will miss it) has been confirmed as a Omega Chronograph with Caliber 321 from the mid-1960s. The exact model reference number is ST 101.010

    James bond lifestyle managed to get hold of the final scene's wardrobe / costume production sheet where the model is confirmed:


  14. #14
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by kultschar View Post
    The third watch at the end of SPECTRE (dont blink you will miss it) has been confirmed as a Omega Chronograph with Caliber 321 from the mid-1960s. The exact model reference number is ST 101.010

    James bond lifestyle managed to get hold of the final scene's wardrobe / costume production sheet where the model is confirmed:


    And that could be thought of as the dress version of the original Speedmaster, which is a rather nice connection!

  15. #15
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    Having read the novels several times and doing a bit of research I am confident to say Fleming's point was mainly stating that Bond has to wear a Rolex and not other watch.
    He even equipped his antagonist Grant in FRWL with a Girard-Perregaux. You are reading about the watch described in details - just realize the watch didn't exist.

  16. #16
    Master
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    I always had Bond as Rolex, and franchise Bond the highest bidder.

    Great thread, an epic education.

  17. #17
    Master BSB's Avatar
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    But which watch will she wear next film?

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