Bond. James Bond.
The name is a natural selection when thinking of iconic watches in movies appearances. From the first Rolex appearance in the 1960’s to the digital age in the 1970’s and the return to mechanical watches later in the series, Bond’s watches have had an impact.
Through the 60’s and 70’s Bond watch was naturally the Rolex, with Seiko making appearances in the mid-1970’s to the 1980’s. When Pierce Brosnan took over the role he brought something new his wrist: the Omega Seamaster Quartz Professional. Brosnan was an Omega ambassador and Omega the brand was itching for high profile product placement of it’s timepieces. Throughout Brosnan’s portrayal of the super-spy the Seamaster (Quartz Professional at first, then the Omega Seamaster Professional Chronometer) has seen substantial screen time.
Brosnan’s first foray into the Bond role finds the character chasing after a deadly satellite weapon system code named Goldeneye. Opposing Bond is a familiar enemy in Bond’s former fellow spy, Alec Trevelyan and the assassin Xenia Onatopp (an over-the-top sexual-innuendo female character name) who uses pleasure as her weapon. Bond must track down the codes for the weapon before it can be used for destruction.
The quartz Seamaster (model 2541.80.00) is seen in the film on both the protagonist and villain, which is fitting given the latter’s former affiliation with Bond. Trevelyan even compares his model to Bond’s, noting the updated model our hero wears. Bond’s version of the watch features a laser beam that he uses to escape a train car before it is destroyed.
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
In the next installment of Brosnan’s run, Bond is facing Elliot Carver, a media mogul who wants to complete his media empire by obtaining broadcast rights in China. In addition his nefarious plan includes starting World War III by creating a confrontation between the British and Chinese. Bond encounters a previous love who is now with Carver and joins forces with Chinese agent Wai Lin in an attempt to end Carver’s schemes and prevent the next World War.
In Tomorrow Never Dies Bond transitions from the quartz Seamaster to the automatic chronometer (model 2531.80.00), which is cleverly shown in the opening credits with an x-ray of the model. Bond later loses his watch but obtains another from agent Wai Lin; I wonder though if it was a Chinese counterfeit or the real deal?
The World is Not Enough (1999)
Brosnan’s third Bond film places the hero with the task of protecting the daughter of an assassinated billionaire, Sir Robert King. KBG agent turned terrorist Renard is behind the assassination as part of his plot to increase petroleum prices by triggering a nuclear meltdown in the waters of Istanbul. Bond is aided by American nuclear physicist Christmas Jones in his efforts to put an end to Renard’s scheme.
The Omega Seamaster in The World is Not Enough is a treasure trove of tricks. Bond first activates what has to be the best lume ever to illuminate the inside of an inflated ski jacket while trapped in an avalanche. Later the watch pops out a piton wire Bond uses to swing some 50 feet to a safe distance. I am not sure how the watch packs these features and still tells the time; I suppose that is for Q Branch to answer.
Die Another Day (2002)
The final film starring Pierce Brosnan as James Bond begins with our favorite 00 agent being captured by North Korean agents. He is held for 14 months before he is freed in a prisoner swap. Despite keeping his mouth shut he is still accused of giving the North Koreans sensitive information and is relieved of duty. Determined to prove his innocence Bond tracks down the prisoner he was traded for, Zao, which leads him to Cuba and eventually to billionaire Gustav Graves, who has set up a satellite, Icarus, which is expected to provide light and energy for the Earth. In reality Graves plans on using the Icarus for destruction and terrorism and only Bond can stop him.
This is the last film to feature both Brosnan and the Omega Seamaster. The watch is still tricked out, featuring a helium escape valve that is actually a remote detonator. Bond uses this feature to time a makeshift bomb early in the film. There are a few clear good shots as he removes the stem and uses the bezel to set the timer for the detonator. Continuing Omega’s product placement an Omega stopwatch is also seen in the film used by one of the villains.
Pierce may have introduced the Omega Seamaster to the Bond character, but it did not end with his run on the series. Continuing beyond Brosnan, Daniel Craig wore the same Seamaster model in “Casino Royale” before moving onto his own signature model, the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean. While the Pierce Brosnan films relied heavily on gadgeted watches, the Daniel Craig Bond returns his watch more to it’s original roots of that of a functional yet stylish timepiece.
by James Enloe
for more watches on the screen, check out James’ site: Watches in Movies