The association between James Bond and the Omega watches began with GoldenEye when Lindy Hemming, the costume designer chose not to equip Bond with the customary Rolex that we had seen so many times before with Connery, Lazenby, and Moore. Hemming thought that the Rolex had become a bit common in the marketplace and was not as distinct and unique as it had been back in the 60’s. She felt the Omega gave Bond a more ‘Euro’ look, matching his needs as a sophisticated British gentleman.
James Bond wears the Omega Seamaster Pro beginning in GoldenEye up until Die Another Day (this includes: Tomorrow Never Dies & The World Is Not Enough). In the first movie he wore the quartz model (# 2541.80) and from thereafter the automatic (# 2531.80), which is approximately $400 more expensive. There are only subtle minor differences between these two, and if cost is an issue stick with the quartz movement, which totals $1300. You do not need to have it oiled every few years and in the event that it is damaged a few years down the line, you are not likely to still be under Omega’s one year warranty and the cost of repairing the delicate pieces inside will be at your expense.
Omega does not sell their watches online, although there are still many e-retailers that do this nonetheless. This allows them to discount at greater than the 15% allotted by Omega. If you choose to purchase online, read the fine text carefully and try to avoid places that laser or buff out the serial # located on the back of the watch. While you would not be covered under the Omega warranty anyways, an Omega-certified repair center may choose not to service your watch if they spot that it is from the gray market.
The potential consumer should also be knowledgeable about the “Helium Relief Valve”. If you’ve ever seen the Seamaster watch, you know there is a small knob to the left of 10:00. Simply put, this is a feature that not even James Bond would need when diving, and it has nothing to do with the water resistant capability of the watch. It is only used by scientists doing deep sea research, who need this feature when depressurizing to prevent the crystal from popping. In Die Another Day, Q Branch replaces this feature with a detonator pin which Bond sticks into the C4.
I have seen the discussion many times on watch forums whether the Seamaster is appropriate for formal occasions, and even black-tie affairs. The short answer is – wear what you want. President Clinton wore a $20 Timex. Even multimillionaire CEO’s are seen wearing cheap watches. The rules on these matters have been relaxed somewhat.
But if you are a traditionalist, the Seamaster is suitable for most formal occasions. While it is technically a divers watch, it does have an elaborate basket-weave design for the stainless steel bracelet and the understated look of the watch face ensures it does not draw unnecessary attention to itself… just the way James Bond would want. Interestingly enough, the latest iteration of the Seamaster (GMT) is probably less appropriate for formal wear as they have made the design bolder and sportier.
There is a little more debate over whether a divers watch is appropriate for black tie. I suppose it would depend on the occasion, but in general you should go with a dress watch to match the rest of the tuxedo. There is nothing wrong with using Bond as a style barometer, but it’s also important to consider the image that is being projected. While it would not be unusual for James Bond to go gambling in the evening followed by a deep sea mission dive to a submarine, if that is not on your itinerary it may look a bit silly to be found wearing one to a wedding.
In closing, the Omega Seamaster is not as expensive as some believe it is. You can find one new for as low as $800, if you look in the right places. It is a piece of jewelry that you will have for life. As evidenced in the movie persona, Bond eats, shoots, sleeps and has sex with it on his wrist at all times.
NOTE: To coincide with the release of Die Another Day, Omega released a limited edition James Bond version of the Seamaster. 10,007 were made and they were priced at around $2100. Instead of the usual wavy background, the face design had little 007 logos spattered on the front, along with other subtle changes. You can still find some on ebay, I’m sure, but I doubt Bond would be so self-indulging as to wear a watch with his own number on it.
*disclaimer: as Bryce would say, none of this is worth going into debt for. There are plenty of reasonably priced alternatives available. However, if you are a stickler for accuracy, it may be worth spending a little more the first time to get it right rather than buy multiple times because you were unhappy with your first few ventures.
Thanks to: Derek Ziglar’s chronocentric.com, which has been an invaluable resource in all things Omega.