The watches of Bond
Going back to the early days, Sean Connery wore a Rolex Submariner for Dr. No in 1962. It was reportedly borrowed from co-producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, due to budgetary issues, but even without this early Bond connection, I am sure it would have still become the desired timepiece it is today. Released in 1953, it is one of the ultimate luxury tool watches that looks as good paired with a suit as it is effective on the wrist of a diver.
The Bond association did help create its cult status, however. When Connery wore his Submariner on a Nato strap with a white tuxedo, it wasn’t the right pairing in a traditional sense but still looked great. I think this was because it was not overly thought out. Presumably it was given to him on this strap and he just wore it that way.
There have been varying styles worn by Bond since then. Connery wore a Breitling in Thunderball. The Sub was again worn by Roger Moore, who also wore a Hamilton in Live and Let Die and went digital in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me through to A View to a Kill in 1985, courtesy of Seiko. A TAG Heuer graced the wrist of Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights, but since 1995’s GoldenEye the Omega has taken centre stage. Seeing Pierce Brosnan’s Seamaster made me go out and buy one. I was, and still am, a sucker for product placement.
Which brings us up to today and the Omega Seamaster 300 “Spectre”, limited to 7,007 pieces. It’s a reintroduction of the early 1957 model, and similar to the standard Seamaster 300, save for a few crucial differences. The first noticeable change is on the bezel. Instead of the 60-minute scale, this has a 12-hour scale that can track a second time zone. It’s also bi-directional instead of uni-directional. Under the hood, the Master Co-Axial Chronometer Calibre 8400 is technically bang up to date, and is anti-magnetic up to 15,000 gauss. You get a metal bracelet and Nato strap thrown in, along with a changing tool, in a wooden presentation box with a three-digit code lock — no prizes for guessing what numbers you’ll choose.
But, although this is the ultimate Christmas gift for any guy this year, I do have one reservation with this watch. The dial has a retro vibe, with numerals made to look like they’ve got patina from years of ageing. This is an aesthetic element many brands have embraced in recent years, due to the popularity of vintage-looking watches allied with modern complications. It’s also for practical reasons: the materials used today ensure the colours will never fade or change, so this is the only way to give it a lived-in feel.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love the character of a rich patina on a vintage watch. My argument is whether it is necessary to pre-age a new watch.
“The orginal Bond watch was reportedly borrowed from Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, due to budgetary issues”
The Rolex worn by Connery was current for its time, so should Bond’s latest watch really be any different?
Finally, I wonder, if history repeated itself, what the current producer would opt to give Bond? Daniel Craig has been spotted wearing vintage Rolexes in the past, and I think he would go for a modern Sea Dweller, as it’s a proper tool watch.
I personally would defy convention and go for a Blancpain Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback in a titanium case on a Nato strap. In some ways, the Blancpain is like the Omega as it’s a relatively new release based on the original version. While retaining its forebear’s DNA, it still looks modern and is a low-key functional dive watch that would suit a modern-day Bond.
As for the colour, the special edition with a blue dial and bezel would be in keeping with the wishes of costume designer Lindy Hemming, who chose 007’s watch in GoldenEye. She said: “I was convinced that Commander Bond, a naval man, a diver and a discreet gentleman of the world, would wear the Seamaster with the blue dial.”
But I’d opt for the standard black version as it just seems sleeker and tougher than its predecessors. Which is very much like the modern-day Bond who would wear it.