MI6 explores the history of James Bond's watches to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Rolex Submariner...

Q Branch - Watches
4th November 2004

Ever since Sean Connery first brought 007 to the silver screen in 1962's Dr. No, his Rolex has faithfully accompanied him on well over half of his screen adventures.

In fact, in only 9 films has Bond been without a Rolex. Throughout his time as 007, Connery was equipped with the Rolex Submariner, which has just celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.

50 Years And Going Strong

Designed with the help of professional divers and with water sports in mind, the Rolex Submariner set the standard of watches to come. The Rolex Submariner pioneered the calibrated bezel - used to record and show at a glance a diver's decompression time.

Above: The original Rolex Submariner

During the original development of the Submariner, the watch went through several name changes. The early engineers referred to their new product as the Frogman, but other considered titles for Rolex's new "toy" were "Deep-Sea Special" or the "Nautilus". At the last moment, before mass-production, the new Rolex was given the name that lived on for 50 years - Submariner.

The original Submariner, worn by Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton and Roger Moore, held many of the features still used today.

A New Look

Originally the watch operated at up to 100 metres, but in 1973 the watch was redesigned and was built to withstand the pressure of being up to 300 metres below sea level.

007's watch of choice was redesigned again in 2003. The new Submariner was carved from stainless steel and the workings were housed in a Rolex designed pressure-sealed compartment known as the Oyster.

The watch came out of the workshop with a stylish black dial and green bezel as well as the standard features, seen in the original model.

Right: The 2003 edition Submariner.


Not The Only Star

The Submariner is not the only star of the Bond series, watch-wise. Roger Moore was seen on screen in five outings with a rival on his wrist. In The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill, Moore sported a Seiko.

With the Bond of the 90's, Pierce Brosnan, came the watch of the 90's - the Omega Seamaster. Like the latest Submariner, Brosnan's watch was also crafted out of stainless steal, featuring a self-winding mechanism and a date well. The Bond franchise struck up a deal with Omega that let them proclaim themselves as the watch of James Bond, or "Pierce Brosnan's Choice". Mr. Brosnan, throughout his four appearances as Bond, faithfully wore the new Seamaster on his wrist.

I've Had A Few Optional Extras Installed

Right from the word "go", well right from the word, Thunderball, Q's stylish and sophisticated watches have assisted Bond. In the fourth picture Sean Connery is armed with a watch with a built-in Geiger counter.

Roger continued in true style supporting yet another Submariner that doubled as mini-buzz saw and an extremely powerful magnet in Live And Let Die. For the next few films, Seiko manufactured Roger's gadget-packed time devices. These watches were all digital, moving away from the traditional analogue style. The Seiko's held everything from Ticker Tape transmission printouts in The Spy Who Loved Me, to more destructive devices such as the detonator watch from Moonraker.


Dalton's watches provided the transition back to the analogue style, and back with a Bond favourite the Submariner.

Q-Branch didn't have a hand in Timothy's time devices as he portrayed a harder edge 007, relying on wits and a PPK and leaving the deadly watches at home.

1989, and Licence to Kill, marked the last time 007 was seen supporting arguably his favourite watch, the classic Rolex Submariner.

Left: The updated version of the Submariner

With the arrival of Pierce Brosnan to the Bond scene, his Omega Seamaster was always tinkered with by the MI6 gadget-master, Q.

Bond's "wrist accessory" was made to cut through metal with a built in laser, light up a small room at the press of a button, became yet another explosive device, or even have a piton wire cleverly built to get 007 out of tricky situations.


All in all, the watches of James Bond provide some of the favourite fan gadgets throughout the series. With 11 Bond films under its strap, the Submariner is still the classic, stylish and practical piece of engineering it was 50 years ago.

The James Bond Watches

Dr. No Rolex Submariner
From Russia With Love Rolex Submariner
Goldfinger Rolex Submariner
Thunderball Rolex Submariner
You Only Live Twice Rolex Submariner
On Her Majesty's Secret Service Rolex Submariner
Diamonds Are Forever Rolex Submariner
Live And Let Die Rolex Submariner
The Man With The Golden Gun Rolex Submariner
The Spy Who Loved Me Seiko
Moonraker Seiko
For Your Eyes Only Seiko
Octopussy Seiko
A View To A Kill Seiko
The Living Daylights Rolex Submariner
Licence To Kill Rolex Submariner
GoldenEye Omega Seamaster
Tomorrow Never Dies Omega Seamaster
The World Is Not Enough Omega Seamaster
Die Another Day Omega Seamaster

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