Over his legendary lifespan, the character of James Bond has been no stranger to luxury brands. This not only led to his slick, suave, signature style but his status as a style icon for men all over the world. A watch has been an essential accessory in every Bond look, and once upon a time the secret agent was strictly associated with the Rolex Submariner. However, Bond fans and those with a keen eye for watches alike will have noticed that newer incarnations of Bond have opted for an Omega Seamaster. Let’s take a deeper dive into some of the most iconic watch models as worn by 007, and the stories behind them…
The Rolex Submariner is an iconic timepiece, and arguably the world’s most instantly recognisable watch. What better accessory for the world’s most iconic spy?
The Submariner was first introduced to Rolex’s line-up in 1954, the first-ever commercial watch that was capable of diving 100 metres underwater. The story goes that diving legend Jacques Cousteau was the one to convince Rolex president Hans Wilsdorf to create a serious watch for divers, and the brand hasn’t looked back since. The Submariner was not only waterproof, but the numbers come in large, easily recognisable shapes; an arrow at 12 and rectangles every third hour. The hour markers light up and a rotating bezel informs the diver how long they have been underwater. The timepiece very quickly achieved landmark status, influencing every diving watch that came after it.
In the first James Bond film, ‘Dr. No’ released in 1962, Sean Connery clearly straps on a Rolex Submariner. Many believe that the model was, in fact, personal possession of Connery; however, James Bond’s Rolex Submariner was a notable feature in Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels too. Of all the Submariner models worn by Bond throughout the films, here are our top three.
Worn by Sean Connery in ‘From Russia with Love’ (1963), ‘Goldfinger’ (1964), and ‘Thunderball’ (1965).
Worn by Roger Moore in ‘Live and Let Die’ (1973), and ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ (1974). In the 1973 film, the watch actually served as a life-saving device, cutting Bond and Solitaire free of the ropes that were lowering them into a pit of sharks.
Worn by Timothy Dalton in ‘The Living Daylights’ (1987), and ‘License to Kill’ (1989)/
With the Rolex acting as such a staple accessory for Bonds across the ages, you may be wondering how Omega came to be known as the more recent timepiece of choice.
By the time Pierce Brosnan stepped into the role of Bond in 1995, product placement was a common part of the industry. Omega simply won the bidding war to become Bond’s next watch of choice, and thus the Omega Seamaster came into play in the films that followed. When Daniel Craig was announced as the new Bond, it seemed the secret agent was due a makeover. Bond’s new appearance as a grittier, less polished man, meant that the Omega watch suited him, and made much more sense than the Rolex. This is best described in a scene in ‘Casino Royale’ where Vesper Lynd’s character asks Bond expectantly if his watch is Rolex, he simply replies “Omega”. Her clear approval emphasises that although he’s a less polished Bond, he still appreciates the finer things in life. The Omega Seamaster also offers a sportier appearance which is much more fitting for the recent carnations of the character.
Despite the relationship between Bond and Omega being a more recent camaraderie, it is now an undeniable part of the Bond identity. Here are the most noteworthy models…
Worn by Pierce Brosnan in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ (1997), ‘The World is Not Enough’ (1999), and ‘Die Another Day’ (2002). This is the watch used by Brosnan’s Bond to save his life with an integrated detonation device. Its appearance is characterised by a signature blue dial with a wave pattern, a blue dive bezel, aluminium insert and helium valve at 10.
This model was worn for Craig’s debut in Casino Royale (2006), although he was also seen at the start of the film in the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Co-Axial Big Size model #2900.50.91. The Planet Ocean model and its water-resistant capabilities up to 600 metres meant that this watch was very in-keeping with the lengthy underwater scenes.
This new, revolutionary Omega model featured a movement that could resist magnetic waves up to 15,000 gauss, and what better watch for Craig in ‘Spectre’ (2015)? The magnetic resistance also matched that of the ‘James Bond’ limited edition Aqua Terra made by Omega several years earlier.
Whether you’re a Rolex or Omega fan, you can’t deny that both have played a significant part in Bond’s characterisation over the decades, offering timeless classics for secret agents and watch connoisseurs alike.