James Bond’s Omega Seamaster for “Spectre” and a History of Classic Models
FLASH cars, torture threats and Vodka Martinis are all in a day’s work for the world’s favourite spy… but is he as quick to change his watch as he does his women?
Along with a licence to kill, Bond… James Bond, has a lucrative licence for product placement – especially timepieces, and with the long-awaited arrival of Spectre, Bond buffs will be eager to catch a glimpse of his latest watch… but they won’t be surprised to learn it’s yet another version of the popular Omega Seamaster. For the first time ever, there will be 7,007 replicas made of the official Bond watch – the ‘Seamaster 300 limited edition’ with a black and grey strap and film logo on the case – available to buy in shops worldwide.
Despite this, Bond will also wear another watch during the movie, which was released earlier this year: a smart blue and yellow Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m, boasting strength in anti-magnetism. Bond has been wearing the Omega Seamaster and different versions of it for two decades. There’s even a bit of dialogue in Casino Royale when Vesper Lynd thinks she has Bond sussed.
“Rolex?” she asks. “Omega,” Bond replies. “Beautiful,” Lynd assesses.
James Bond with his famous Rolex Submariner
Summing up 53 years of Bond and his watches, fans grumble about “blatant product placement” while devotees of Omega delight in its mention. Omega wasn’t the watch of choice when the agent started out on his missions to save mankind, however. While 007 enthusiasts will pinpoint a pert Ursula Andress emerging from the waves as their overriding memory, watch buffs will have spotted the resilient Rolex Submariner watch on Sean Connery’s wrist in the first Bond film – Dr No. The Scot wore the watch throughout his tenure as the special agent and it gained such association that collectors still refer to it as the James Bond watch. Released in 1954, it was already becoming a classic and its understated nature meant Bond could rely on it whilst on exercise, allowing him to blend in with a crowd. Creator Ian Fleming gave his hero a ‘heavy Rolex Oyster Perpetual on an expanding bracelet’ – a watch Bond put to use as a knuckleduster while punching out a henchman in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The writer made it quite clear that “a man’s choice of watch said as much about him as his Savile Row suit.”
Throughout the 70s and 80s, the quartz craze swept throughout the watch industry, threatening to kill off the art of mechanical movements. But just like his outfits, Roger Moore’s 007 kept up with the trends, so Seiko – the digital watch innovator, was used. Rolex watches appeared in almost a third of the sagas, with nods to Tag Heuer in The Living Daylights, Breitling in Thunderball and Seiko back in Moonraker.
James Bond’s Seiko printing off a message from headquarters
Roger Moore’s Bond using his Rolex to cut through some rope in ‘Live and Let Die’
At different points in the Bond movies, we see the spy wearing some other watches that were specially modified by Q and made cameo appearances in the films. In the early days, Bond confirmed the functioning of the Geiger Counter by testing it against the luminous, slightly radioactive dial of his Rolex wristwatch. In From Russia with Love, Bond revealed a watch from which a wire garrote could be drawn and was used by Red Grant to strangle a fake Bond as part of a training exercise in the opening scene. He later attempted to strangle the real 007 in the film’s climax, only to have it turned against him. A highly modified Rolex Submariner was given to Bond by M in Live and Let Die, which when turned on, could snag any lightweight metallic item but notably, failed to save Bond as he attempted to escape from alligators… but at least allowed him to unzip the dress of a fair maiden.
Pierce Brosnan and his Omega Seamaster
But the days of gadgets are dying out and today Bond is more about suave and sophistication. He’s constantly on the move, so only a durable timepiece will do – although design is of course important too. Brosnan’s Bond favoured watches featuring a number of Q’s enhancements, including a remote bomb detonator and a powerful laser beam that could slice through steel. Daniel Craig’s Bond has preferred to keep it simple so far and as such, his watches lack the deadly modifications, although they remain equally as stylish.
Daniel Craig as 007, sporting his Omega Seamaster
Can another brand surpass the Omega Seamaster and its many versions or is it here to stay?
Fancy yourself as a bit of a Bond? Visit www.luxewatches.co.uk for similar Rolex and Omega designs.