James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch: Part II
Written by: Dell Deaton, www.jamesbondwatches.com author-creator
Timothy Dalton actually wore two different wristwatches as James Bond in The Living Daylights (1987). Part I of this article laid out the evidence favoring a thin-case TAG Heuer 980.031 Professional Diver as the first, with an 80-100% “certainty.” Several dozen screen images from the film are available to view this black PVD watch with its cream-colored, full-luminescent dial face – clearly worn a jubilee bracelet.
That first Dalton-Bond timekeeper has been labeled the “Gibraltar Heuer” by JamesBondWatches.com for researchers and collectors.
The second, “Tangier Rooftop Watch” is the focus here in Part II. It’s far less visible in the film, and in many ways best discussed in terms of what it is not. For example, its silver-colored case and bracelet unquestionably distinguish it from the black-dominant Gibraltar Heuer. It’s also unlikely to be a Rolex of any sort. And, as with the Gibraltar Heuer, Eon Productions has provided no information to help with the identification of the Tangier Rooftop Watch, nor is it anticipated that they will do so.
Thus, this article is about a wristwatch of which we can only be 20-40% “certain.” At the same time, that’s a very important 20-40% to have.
Catching a glimpse
TAG Heuer 980.013 watch similar to the one worn by Timothy Dalton as James Bond throughout most of The Living Daylights.
The Tangier Rooftop Watch shows below Dalton’s cuff at a number of points throughout main action in The Living Daylights. In fact, other than the pre-title sequence, it gives every indication of being the primary James Bond watch for this film.
An early example can be found around 12 minutes, 37 seconds along (as viewed on the 2006 Ultimate Edition DVD). Here, Bond is sitting on the bed in the sniper’s lair, preparing his equipment for the assignment, and the watch shows beneath his French Cuff as he holds the rifle.
At 39 minutes, 12 seconds, a reflection off his watch case can be seen in the restroom stall as he pulls Kara Milovy’s firearm from her white cello case. Then at 41 minutes, 18 seconds, another brief view comes during the scene in the girl’s apartment.
Now look at 44 minutes, 2 seconds, which has James Bond driving off from the conservatoire with Milovy in an Aston Martin with Volante badging. As 007’s sweater pulls back from his hand on the driver’s wheel, both the silver-colored case and indications of a black dial and black bezel on his watch are evidenced.
Finally, around 1 hour, 13 minutes, 49 seconds into The Living Daylights, Timothy Dalton is shown completing a jump from one Tangier rooftop to the next, swinging with the aid of a television antenna. The silver-colored watch brightly reflects as jacket rides up forearm; texturing on the visible band is consistent with that of a jubilee-style bracelet.
Fans have long assumed this must be a Rolex Submariner Date. (The same guesswork, I’ll add, which altogether misses the significantly more obvious TAG Heuer 980.031 seen earlier in the film.) One reasonable basis for this speculation is the confirmed appearance of the Rolex Submariner Date as James Bond’s watch in Licence to Kill (1989), the second of Dalton’s two performances as 007 and which premiered twenty-four months after The Living Daylights.
There is also Dalton’s dogged commitment to portraying Bond closely to the original concept of creator Ian Fleming. This is perhaps best summarized by Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli of Eon Productions, in his autobiography, When the Snow Melts (1998). He wrote on page 282 that Timothy Dalton “…came to Bond determined to re-create the character, and delved through Fleming’s books for his source material.”
If this influence were to have extended down to wristwatch details – which it did not – that would be a strong position from which to argue that a precursor or even the same Rolex Submariner Date from Licence to Kill had appeared in The Living Daylights.
After all, the original literary Rolex specified for James Bond by Ian Fleming himself was not known until its discovery via JamesBondWatches.com was chronicled in the February 2009 issue of WatchTime magazine. That was over two decades after The Living Daylights premiered.
Why not look for a Rolex?
Two major facts weigh against any likelihood of Rolex appearance as a James Bond watch in The Living Daylights. The first and strongest centers on Rolex itself.
Prior to this film, the last Rolex appearance was in The Man with the Golden Gun in 1974, and that watch was a then-relatively-current Rolex Submariner. Subsequently, throughout the next five Eon Productions films that followed, the Bond character wore only new watches; in fact, arguably the latest technology in horology. So a Rolex for James Bond’s choice in The Living Daylights would have meant a conscious decision to acquire a current Rolex for Dalton to wear.
A focus on Rolex is always argued either to bring the character closer to Fleming’s books, or as an homage to previous Bond actors who wore it. But both of these thoughts then fail immediately upon presentation due to the very existence of the TAG Heuer 980.031 wristwatch. It simply makes no sense that a Rolex would have been selected for any reason, only to then be overshadowed by another brand by such a wide margin. If Rolex (any Rolex) was the Tangier Rooftop Watch, there would have been no Gibraltar Watch: Instead, we’d have only one James Bond watch in The Living Daylights – just as is the situation with Licence to Kill, where Timothy Dalton exclusively wore a Rolex Submariner throughout, regardless action, wardrobe, or place.
A non-PVD version of the 980.031 is more consistent with what’s visible in The Living Daylights. That watch is the stainless steel 980.013 Heuer or TAG Heuer (the thinner case version).
TAG Heuer 980.031 Professional diver’s watch, in good condition.
The Sub Date is heavier and over one-third thicker than either of the aforementioned TAG Heuers. Moreover, the distribution of that thickness says something about how the watch wears on the wrist: The Rolex caseback protrudes below the lugs almost three times as much as the one on the 980.031 and 980.013 TAG Heuers. This makes the Submariner Date a more dominant wrist presence.
That’s why the Rolex is ubiquitous in Licence to Kill. In scene after scene, the Sub Date slides out from under Dalton’s sleeve at seemingly the slightest arm-stretch. In formal wedding attire at 2 minutes, 6 seconds, and at 4 minutes, 57 seconds. In casual clothing, escaping from the Hemingway House, at 36 minutes, 7 seconds. During the bar fight at 53 minutes, 42 seconds and following. When Agent 007 gets out of a car in the Kenworth garage, at 1 hour, 44 minutes, 48 seconds. Jumping off of a plane, at 1 hour, 57 minutes, 6 seconds. And the Rolex Submariner Date can be seen coming out from under his sleeve as James Bond engages the cruise control on a Kenworth truck that he has commandeered, at 2 hours, 3 minutes, 46 seconds.
Now compare that to similar activities by Bond throughout The Living Daylights. In the four running-time references I’ve provided for this article where the Tangier Rooftop Watch can be seen, that watch remains largely concealed by the sleeves of various shirts worn by Timothy Dalton in those scenes.
Add to this even more opportunities for the Tangier Rooftop Watch to be revealed, but where it is not. When Bond raises Moneypenny’s glasses on her face and his left sleeve draws back, there is no evidence of any watch at 23 minutes, 50 seconds, let alone a Rolex. Again, when he puts away his cigarette case at 27 minutes, 56 seconds: No watch. Repeatedly in the Afghanistan sequences, no watch is visible; particularly see 1 hour, 27 minutes, 25 seconds; 1 hour, 30 minutes, 24 seconds; and 1 hour, 36 minutes, 20 seconds.
Of course, JamesBondWatches.com is no more capable of “proving a negative” than any other researcher. But the numerous examples above, across a diversity of wardrobe and contexts in The Living Daylights are strongly inconsistent with parallel sightings involving the Rolex Submariner Date in Licence to Kill.
That is why we don’t similarly Bond’s watch in The Living Daylights.
Again, subject to the 20-40% certainty caveat, the most likely candidate for the Tangier Rooftop Watch is the TAG Heuer (or Heuer) 980.013 Professional Diver, with a black dial.
All the other TAG Heuer watches
The second of the two major facts that weigh against calling the Tangier Rooftop Watch a Rolex is a continuity in the film itself that conspicuously favors TAG Heuer as the choice.
As noted in Part I, JamesBondWatches.com solicited input from David Chalmers and Paul Gavin as part of an ad hoc team tasked with narrowing the possibilities, if not outright identifying James Bond watches in The Living Daylights. Chalmers is responsible for the excellent Calibre11.com website out of Hong Kong; Gavin is based in the United Kingdom and is in the process of cataloguing Heuer and TAG Heuer diver watches – up to the period leading into production of The Living Daylights.
It’s already been established that Timothy Dalton wore a reference 980.031 Heuer or TAG Heuer in the sequence before opening credits rolled in the motion picture. So, too, did the imposter (Carl Rigg) and Felix Leiter (John Terry). That makes three choices for TAG Heuer.
This is consistent with experience reported to JamesBondWatches.com by SEIKO Watch Corporation personnel who worked directly with Eon Productions in the 1970s and 1980s. Bracelet adjustments, damage repair, and emergency replacements are all more easily taken care of by film property departments when dealing with a single watch brand. By way of perspective, the film immediately preceding The Living Daylights was A View to a Kill (1985). SEIKO not only provided all three watch models worn then by Roger Moore as 007, but also the two worn by Max Zorin, one for M, another for Miss Moneypenny, one for Q, one each for Stacy Sutton, Sir Godfrey Tibbett, the Minister of Defense, General Gogol, Jenny Flex, and a handful of other players.
SEIKO was, as noted, a product placement partner in A View to a Kill; TAG Heuer enjoyed no such formal recognition with The Living Daylights. Notwithstanding, it would have made little sense for Eon Productions to both break pattern and invest greater effort in providing a variety of watch brands to The Living Daylights. The return on such a large investment against such a small detail would have been negligible at best.
Approaching the Tangier Rooftop Watch identification question from this angle, then, Paul Gavin, David Chalmers, and I took a close look at the three other dominant watches in The Living Daylights. The obvious place to start was with the Pushkin watch.
Portrayed by actor John Rhys-Davies, General Leonid Pushkin wore not just a wristwatch, but the only gadget-watch in The Living Daylights. The last 007 on-screen gadget-watch was four years prior, in Octopussy (1983). This, then, suggests that the Pushkin timekeeper was something special, more considered.
Gavin readily identified it as a Heuer or TAG Heuer Airline GMT, “most likely” a 985.313 reference. It was available through the 1986 TAG Heuer catalogue.
We then turned our attention to the next two most evident watches worn by major characters in The Living Daylights: Necros and Koskov. Several good views of the watch worn by henchman Necros (Andreas Wisniewski), including a scene where he manhandles Bond a bit on the plane en route to Afghanistan and again at various points in their battle-to-the-death on the opium-bag-filled-cargo-net in flight. Worn on his right wrist, Necros’ wristwatch has a thick black case, black jubilee-style bracelet, black dial, two white hands, and a third, colored hand. At one point two crown-like protrusions are obvious – at the 2 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions. Circumference markings for a diver’s bezel can also be seen.
Gavin called this as a Heuer Regatta automatic, reference 134.601, from a 1984 Heuer catalogue. David Chalmers then summarized his impression of our team effort up to that point in a February 2010 eMail. “I think we can be 100% certain there is a Heuer / TAG Heuer Airline used in the movie, 90% certain that there is a Heuer / TAG Heuer 980.031, and probably 75% certain that there is a Heuer Regatta.”
That makes five Heuers so far, with the 980.031 appearing on three characters.
Our sixth and final focus, the wristwatch worn by General Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé), did not immediately stand out as a Heuer. So the inquiry on this one was more to see if it “could” be a Heuer – thus keeping the door open to a possible single-watch domination among major cast members in The Living Daylights.
A grey-colored “Titanium and Carbon Fibre” sports watch reference 823.213 is consistent with the Koskov-watch screen-captures that I provided to our study team. Gavin found this in the same 1984 Heuer catalog as the Necros Regatta.
James Bond and TAG Heuer
As stated at the outset in Part I, this is not intended as a bulletproof identification of the two clearly different watches worn by Timothy Dalton as James Bond in The Living Daylights. No documentation or even an opinion has been provided on either to JamesBondWatches.com from Eon Productions.
Close-up of the distinctive dial on a Heuer 980.031 Professional “Night Diver,” à la Agent 007 at Gibraltar.
That’s not uncommon in historical research, of course. As a case in point, any ultimate study aimed at the identification of the many and various wristwatches that Ian Fleming himself had clearly worn during his lifetime will largely rest on approaches similar to those laid out in these articles. It’s the way most real-world, historical timepieces are found outside of Tinsel Town.
At a minimum, however, these articles break the monopoly held by so much of the duplicated guesswork by others that has actually inhibited a thoughtful and ultimately fruitful search for the James Bond watches worn in The Living Daylights. Evidence and bases are transparent in my research. Thus, even those who intelligently disagree with the conclusions here are at least now pointed in the right direction.
It is 100% certain, as Paul Gavin, David Chalmers, and I have agreed, that a Heuer Airline GMT appears in The Living Daylights as the signature gadget watch. We’re almost as sure that a Heuer or TAG Heuer 980.031 Professional Diver’s watch is worn by James Bond. It’s probable that two other characters wore the same model as well, including Felix Leiter. Still another watch is “very likely” a Heuer, and the last one is at least “consistent with” another Heuer of this period.
Writing next now strictly on behalf of myself, the history of James Bond filmmaking as it stood in 1986 suggests a very low probability that Timothy Dalton wore anything other than a Heuer or TAG Heuer in The Living Daylights. And it seems an extreme long shot, indeed, to think it any sort of Rolex, let alone a Rolex Submariner Date, despite its choice as the Bond watch one film later in Licence to Kill.
Chances are good that the silver-colored James Bond watch in The Living Daylights is some sort of Heuer or TAG Heuer. With a 20-40% “certainty,” JamesBondWatches.com is calling the “Tangier Rooftop Heuer” a thin-case reference 980.013 Professional Diver; it’s a non-coated stainless steel brother to the “Gibraltar Heuer,” but with a black dial. This watch seems a bit more readily available to collectors, in the $200.00 to $400.00 (U.S.) price range, depending on condition.
Whatever the ultimate models confirm as, and whatever eventually may be proven regarding formality of relationship between Eon Productions and TAG Heuer in the past, one thing is for certain: TAG Heuer has unquestionably been an important part of the James Bond legacy at least since the mid-1980s.
That’s exciting news.
Dell Deaton is the creator-author of JamesBondWatches.com and guest curator for the “Bond Watches, James Bond Watches” exhibition, June 18, 2010 through April 30, 2011. He is a member of both the National Watch & Clock Association and American Marketing Association, and a recognized expert on Ian Fleming and James Bond horology. Previously, he was elected to a three-year term on the board of directors that governs the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, and served three terms on the editorial advisory board for Exhibitor Publications.