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A History of the James Bond Watch

James Bond, Skyfall

Skyfall, the new James Bond movie, comes out on Friday, so we thought we’d take a look at the iconic movie character from a jeweler’s perspective, especially as people who have bought, sold, and most importantly, loved Rolexes for generations.

Although Omega has been James Bond’s watch of choice in recent years, the true Bond enthusiast knows that original watch of Agent 007 was always a Rolex. In the original James Bond books by Ian Flemming, Bond was described as wearing a Rolex, even using it as a knuckleduster once. However, the books didn’t mention of the model or type, so when Sean Connery first appeared in Dr. No, the producers had to guess what kind of Rolex it was. According to legend, the film didn’t have the budget to purchase a Rolex for Sean Connery to wear, and Rolex refused to provide one, so the film’s producer, Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, took his own Rolex off of his wrist and lent it to Sean Connery for James Bond to wear.

Sean Connery's James Bond Submariner RolexThat first Rolex, as appearing on Sean Connery’s wrist in Dr. No, was a Submariner model with a black alligator leather strap. In later movies, James Bond was seen wearing a Rolex Submariner with a nylon strap, black with grey stripes, similar to military-issue Rolexes of the day. The Rolex Submariner is a stylish and hard-wearing watch, waterproof to depths of 200 meters or 660 feet, and strong enough to survive anything that James Bond needs it for.

Roger Moore also wore Rolex Submariner watches. Probably the most exciting of all of James Bond’s Rolexes, the one that Roger Moore wore in Live and Let Die featured some useful modifications by Q, including a spinning bezel that acted as a saw to help cut through ropes and save both Bond and his girl from a watery, shark-filled grave. It also included an electromagnet powerful enough to divert bullets. Unfortunately, Rolex doesn’t make Rolexes like that for the average customer, as much as we wish that they did.

James Bond did venture into Seiko watches for a while, as the newer digital watches looked very high tech and fit in with James Bond’s flashier gadgets. However, the character of James Bond did make a final return to Rolexes with Timothy Dalton in License to Kill, who also wore a Rolex Submariner. Timothy Dalton was the first James Bond to wear a Rolex Submariner with a date function, but sadly, he was the last James Bond to wear a Rolex at all.

Omega started sponsoring product placement of their watches in James Bond films Daniel Craig wearing a Rolexstarting with Pierce Brosnan and continuing up through the Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. In fact, there is a line in Casino Royal where another character asks James Bond, “Nice Watch. Is that a Rolex?” and he replies, “Omega,” which seems both a nod to the original James Bond watch, as well as an effort to get people to associate James Bond with Omegas, and not Rolexes. However, Daniel Craig, the current James Bond, wears several different Rolexes when he is not actually being James Bond. These include a vintage Rolex Submariner with a black and grey NATO strap, in imitation of one of Sean Connery’s original Rolexes; a stainless Rolex Datejust; a 50th Anniversary Rolex Milgauss GV; a two-tone Rolex Datejust on a Jubilee Bracelet; a vintage Rolex Daytona; and a customized 50th Anniversary LV Rolex Submariner.

So, since Omega still has a sponsorship deal with the James Bond franchise, Skyfall probably won’t be featuring any Rolexes. But the Rolex enthusiasts and James Bond enthusiasts among us can take comfort in the fact that while he may not get to wear one in the movie, Daniel Craig appreciates the classy, timeless charm of the Rolex – James Bond’s original watch.

Want to be like James Bond and own your own Rolex? Check out our selection of used Rolex watches. If you own a Rolex Submariner and want it to look more like James Bond’s, we can also switch out the band for you so you have a nice custom Rolex.