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  1. Bondathon: 25 films. 3 Days. No Substitutes.

    Written By Brad Hansen

    Everyone’s thought of trying it, but few take the plunge to watching the entire James Bond movie collection in a row with almost no stops.

    My girlfriend (CBn’s Athena Stamos) and I decided that her birthday would be a great excuse to finally give it a try: 25 movies (including the three “non-canon” entries) over the course of three days. We would watch them all in chronological order and only stop for a few hours of sleep in between each day. There would be no escape, for us at least. We invited our friends and fellow LA Bond fans, keeping an “open door” policy so that guests could come and go as they wished. We made a Facebook event with the schedule so that the more casual fans could decide when they’d like to show up. All in all we had over 30 people attend throughout the event. We also had a webcam so those who couldn’t make it would be able to “join” us.

    To shake things up, we introduced an Olympics-style ratings system in order to answer that immortal question: Which Bond movie is the best of all? We printed out score cards, 0 through 10 (10 being perfect). After each film each audience member gave a score to the movie they just watched. It didn’t matter if they were Bond veterans or rookies (we had plenty of both), everyone’s score counted the same. The rankings were then averaged and inserted into our time-lapsed video.

    You can see results below in the video we put together:

    Bondathon Poster

    For a Bond fan, the biggest reason for watching a Bondathon is that it forces you to reconsider your opinion of each film. Watching them in order, with an audience, on a new format (like Blu-ray) can all change how you view each film. Movies that you previously dismissed might surprise you, and old favorites might not hold up so well. Some observations about the films and the event:

    • The shock of our Bondathon was how well Never Say Never Again held up. Many of us, myself included, have always ranked it near the bottom. But watching the film, none of us could figure out why. Perhaps the languidness of Thunderball was still fresh in our memories, perhaps it was the excitement of seeing Sean Connery again after so many Roger Moore films, but no one could stop smiling. It’s still not a perfect film, as everyone agreed that the ending runs out of steam and that the music leaves a lot to be desired. But there were so many applause-worthy Bond moments that it got a big score. Even the dated elements -The wink at the end, the video games, the leotards- only added to the charm and entertainment. 
    • Films that followed very high-scoring films suffered more than expected. On their own, flicks like Diamonds Are Forever seem to play much better. Whereas here, following the majesty that is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, it seemed like a U-turn in the wrong direction towards goofier, lighter fare.
    • When you watch all the films in order without stop, you’ll find your patience wearing thin for the slower films. A Bondathon only highlights problems in pacing and plotting. This at least partly explains how Casino Royale (1967), Thunderball, A View To A Kill, and The Man With The Golden Gun got ranked on the low end.
    • The series has amazing changes in tone, but none is as big as the switch from Die Another Day to Casino Royale (2006). When you go from the villain in the robo-suit fighting Bond on a jet liner that’s been inflamed by a space mirror-laser, to a gritty noir scene of an assassination in an office, you can’t help but think this is the biggest change in tone of the series (and all for the better, judging by the scoring). Casino Royale (2006) was also one of the few films that had the power to bring the audience to complete silence (the end of OHMSS had a similar effect).

    Overall, it was a wonderfully memorable weekend, and I would highly recommend a Bondathon for those crazy enough to host one. When you’re done, you’ll feel like a member of an exclusive club of die-hards. It’s a great way to catch up with friends, swap opinions with fellow fans, and expose people to the fantastic world of 007.

    Guest writer @ 2011-03-03
  2. Review: Blood Stone

    Written by: Brad Hansen

    James Bond 007: Blood Stone marks the second PS3/Xbox 360 launch for the series from publisher Activision and the first from developer Bizarre Creations (of Blur and Project Gotham Racing fame). By now, if you’re a gamer, you’ve doubtlessly read reviews from gaming sites. I’d like to give this review from a position that many readers here might find closer to their perspective- Casual gamers who are dyed-in-the-wool fans of all things 007. So let’s get started on the elements presented in this newest mission.


    Blood Stone is predominantly a third-person shooter. Like Quantum of Solace, it features a cover system that lets you duck behind objects to avoid enemy fire. The cover system is a little more finicky here but works quite well once you get used to it. Not helping matters is that the game doesn’t have a clear “get to know the controls” level, instead plunging you right into the action and hoping you can figure everything out yourself.


    Like Quantum, there is also the option to fight enemies hand-to-hand in close quarters. It’s an auto-pilot experience- All you have to do is run up next to an enemy and hit a single button- but it’s very satisfying and the melee moves (provided by Bond stuntman Ben Cooke) look fantastic. An extra reward for these take-downs is a new feature called “Focus Aim.” For every henchman taken down hand-to-hand, you’re awarded a Focus Aim that allows brief automatic targeting for shooting down opponents. It’s a fun way to add strategy to the game, as the Focus Aims can be saved up to get you out of big jams when the henchmen start flooding around you. You also have to be careful with your ammo, as you must rely on picking up spare clips from your dead rivals to keep going. Another touch of realism is the ability to only carry two guns- One pistol and one bigger weapon- forcing you to plan on which weapon you wish to carry at any given time. Dual-wielding a la GoldenEye isn’t possible here. Overall, the shooting gameplay is satisfying and fun, comparing very closely overall with the Quantum experience. But unlike Quantum, the adventure isn’t limited to on-foot action. You also get to pilot a variety of vehicles, from boats to Aston Martins. About a quarter of the game relies on this chasing format, where you must keep within a certain distance of a fleeing villain without falling too far behind or encountering ride-ending obstacles. These sections were my favorite of the game and were all-too-brief. The physics are pretty simple- more Grand Theft Auto and less Gran Turismo– but they work well for the game as you hurtle at blinding speeds past obstacles. My favorite level of the game finds Bond in a tow truck pursuing a giant dump truck barreling through the streets of Bangkok. It forces you to make split-second decisions on how to avoid the wreckage strewn in front of you while still remaining in pursuit. Great fun.

    My only criticism with these driving levels was the invincibility of the vehicles that you pilot. Running head-on into a freight truck does nothing but slow you down. And it certainly looks cool to see baddies shooting at you from vehicles ahead, but it doesn’t harm your car in any way. If there was a damage meter for the vehicles, it would raise the pulse on these levels even more.

    Unfortunately the fun comes to an end all too soon. There’s only enough game here for a solid day of play. While there are three difficulty settings that should encourage replay value, I found myself wishing for more levels from such a top-tier release.


    Bond runs from the driller

    Bond scribe Bruce Feirstein makes a welcome return to game writing duties with Blood Stone. Being a big fan of Feirstein’s previous work (including the last original Bond game storyline, the superb Everything or Nothing), I had high hopes for this adventure, perhaps too high. Maybe I was looking for a suitable replacement for Bond 23, but in any case, I didn’t get it here. As a game plot, it works just fine in shuttling Bond off to new locations to chase down new bad guys with every level. But as a memorably cohesive story, it falls a bit flat.

    The Brosnan-era games were such a blast because they reflected the films- Big, goofy, ridiculous fun. Robotic spiders, invisible cars, Bond in space, ninjas, and nanobots are all things that are questionable in the film Bond’s universe and might even make Ian Fleming turn in his grave, but they certainly make gameplay a thrilling and memorable experience. The Craig-era games certainly reflect the Craig-era movies, as Bond is a cold, hard killer, with very little gadgets, humor, and sex to bolster relatively realistic plots. While that might work in the films, this reflection leaves Blood Stone feeling like a story without the fun and humor of the older films but also bereft of the intriguing drama of the newer ones.

    My biggest complaint with the storyline is the lack of a clear central villain. While playing, it’s never clear who the “boss” baddie is. By the time we think we’ve vanquished the central villain, the story sends Bond after another one, then another, and so on. None of the villains are set up in any interesting way or given any memorable characteristics. Nor is the bad guy’s scheme some grand, interesting take-over-the-world reveal (it’s a simple game of bio-weapons here, a little more interesting than raising Bolivian water prices, but not by much). To be fair, there is a nice character twist towards the end of the story, but it’s a case of too little, too late.

    That’s not to say that there aren’t some incredible sequences in the story, many that would’ve made great film sequences. Among the highlights are Bond evading an excavation drill, chasing a train by driving across splintering Siberian ice sheets, and a fantastic hovercraft chase. Remember the “hover-jet” from the book Devil May Care? Here Bond actually gets to encounter it in action! Too bad it wasn’t the climax of the game, as it was the most epic level of the entire game.

    By the way, what’s with the title? What/who is the “Blood Stone” anyways? It sure isn’t those diamonds featured in the title sequence, as diamonds aren’t even hinted at in the story. “Never Kill Me Again” would’ve been better than this! Moving on…

    Voice Acting

    Joss Stone as Nicole Hunter

    Daniel Craig returns to voicing duties as Bond himself. It’s a pity the script doesn’t give him much leverage to actually ACT, but he deliveries his lines with conviction. Ditto for Judi Dench (who unfortunately looks a little frightening in CG form). The show stealer is singer Joss Stone, who does double-duty here by not only belting out the wonderful title song “I’ll Take It All,” but also giving a great voice performance as Bond girl Nicole Hunter.

    Graphics and Atmosphere

    In a side-by-side comparison with Quantum of Solace, the graphics are roughly the same as far as detailing and modeling go. However, the scope of the environments is much grander in scale. There are some locations that are simply jaw-dropping, chief among them being a massive aquarium that’s home to whales and sharks. I sometimes found myself stopping my quest just to look around and take everything in. The sheer variety of exotic locales also keeps the interest up.

    The music, provided by Richard Jacques, is another highlight of this release, with a score that would feel right at home in a motion picture. Here’s hoping it gets released in the near future.


    With the single-player mode as short as it is, the multiplayer option should provide a bit more replay value. But, much like Quantum, the online multiplayer option leaves a lot to be desired. The levels are all straight from the game, and unlike GoldenEye, the characters are basically faceless henchmen, not classic characters from the series. There are only a handful of game modes as well. It plays just as well as it looks- like an afterthought. While it’s nice to include this, it makes you wonder why they even tried when there are so many better options out there (Call of Duty chief among them). Adding insult to injury, multiplayer is online-only, with no split-screen local option available, so don’t bother getting your friends with this release.

    Overall Verdict

    All the elements are here for a great game- A talented writer and voice cast, stellar graphics and locales, and a solid shooting and driving engine. But somehow they’re all held back. I kept thinking that if only the people involved were allowed to just let loose and have fun, as they seemed to be in the Brosnan-era games, then the game
    would be more of a joy to play. While I applaud the variety of levels and situations that the game came up with, and the occasionally epic scope it achieves, the short play time and the meager multiplayer mode means there’s not much bang for your buck here.

    So my advice? If you’re looking for Bond 23 in this, you won’t find it. If you’re looking for a $60 game, you won’t find it here either. Wait a few months and buy it used for half off, and you’ll be a happy customer.

    Fan Curiosities

    • Although there is no gadgetry to speak of, Q-Branch is mentioned several times during the game.
    • The Aston Martin DB5 make an appearance here, and license plate reads BMT 216A (the designation as it appeared in the Connery films, not the Brosnan movies).
    • Bond is identified as “Commander Bond” for the first time in the Craig era. About time!

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    Guest writer @ 2010-11-22
  3. 'A View To A Kill' 25th Anniversary – The report

    As previously reported by CBn, the French Fan Club Club James Bond France recently hosted an event at the Château de Chantilly near Paris to celebrate the 25th anniversary ofA View to A Kill. Laurent Perriot reports on the event.

    Director John Glen presents the special issue of 'Le Bond' magazine.

    Chantilly – its whipped cream, its horse races, its castle, its forest, its history… and James Bond. And it’s not just any Bond film, it’s A View to A Kill, Roger Moore’s last one. A page turns, a chapter closes for a generation of Bond fans. Some of the most glamourous and romantic scenes in A View to A Kill took place in this elegant place surrounded by a huge forest and located some thirty kilometers north of Paris.
    The Club James Bond France’s plannings to celebrate the film’s 25th anniversary took several months. The Club had invited fans from France and abroad (Dutch, Belgium and British fans were present) to this special event on September 18th, taking advantage of the nation’s European Heritage Days.

    Rémy Julienne, Serge Touboul and John Glen

    Prestigious guests came along and shared their memories from shooting the movie. Director John Glen and his wife Janine, Car Stunt Coordinator Rémy Julienne and France Production Manager Serge Touboul presented the film in front of 1200 people.

    The gas station where Tibbet was killed.

    The day started with the visit of the gas station where Tibbett (Patrick McNee) is murdered by May Day (Grace Jones) in his Rolls-Royce. The gas station has been modernized but the place is totally recognizable and fans had no trouble imagining May Day’s threatening silhouette appearing in the car wash.
    The group had lunch in a nearby restaurant where all napkins bore Jamed Bond movie quotations. John Glen made his grand entrance during the apéritif. The five-time Bond director was greeted like a hero. After the meal, there was a signing session with him.

    John Glen chats with the fans.

    The entire group of fans then visited the Château de Chantilly, with comments from both a guide and John Glen himself. John and his wife Janine were clearly enjoying themselves. John Glen told as many anecdotes as he could during the visit.
    Locations from the scene where the group stopped include :
    • the small drawbridge which 007 hangs on to go back to his bedroom.
    • the way to Zorin’s office (the office itself was a Pinewood set)
    • the magnificent gardens and bridge from the outdoor party scene
    • the staircase where Bond tells Jenny Flex: “I’m an early riser myself”
    • the spot of the Rolls’ arrival
    • the spot where Tibbett washed the car
    • the stables seen at the beginning of the sequence
    Of course, some of the fans could not resist taking photos at the exact spot where the actors stood. The weather was fantastic and it made for a fabulous afternoon.

    The audience awaiting the screening of 'A View To A Kill'.

    As the sun set, the group went to the nearby racetracks where the best was still to come – the outdoor screening of A View to A Kill on a 250 square metro giant screen. Behind it, the lit château and stables were a marvelous sight for the 1200 people attending the event.

    Fireworks accompanying the movie's end credits.

    John Glen, Serge Touboul and Rémy Julienne paid tribute to the city which allowed them to shoot in the best possible conditions. And the icing on the cake was the movie’s end credits rolling with spectacular fireworks above Chantilly. A great way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Roger Moore’s last Bond.
    This has been Club James Bond France’s biggest event ever thanks to an excellent partnership with the city of Chantilly. Currently the world’s most dynamic Bond fan club it is setting up a James Bond film festival in Paris on December 11 and 12. Stay tuned!

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    Guest writer @ 2010-10-08
  4. Review: James Bond in World and Popular Culture: The Films are Not Enough

    James Bond in World and Popular Culture: The Films are Not Enough

    For some time now, the multi-verse of 007 has been acceptable fodder for academic conferences, scholarly critiques, and in-depth discussions on every aspect of film making and literature imaginable on the net and in print. Judging from the citations in the new James Bond in World and Popular Culture: The Films Are Not Enough (hereafter JBWPC), some sources have become seminal milestones in Bond studies. Tony Bennett and Janet Woollacott’s Bond and Beyond: The Political Career of a Popular Hero (1987), Jeremy Black’s The Politics of Bond: from Fleming’s Novels to the Big Screen (2001), and the various essays in The James Bond Phenomenon: A Critical Reader (2003) seem to command widespread respect. Again, judging from how often he’s invoked in JBWPC, the predominant authority on James Bond’s role in popular culture must be James Chapman, author of the 1999 Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films.

    JBWPC seeks to join this august catalogue with forty new essays by a diverse cast of authors—including Chapman who gets the literal last word in the final piece, “Reflections in a Double Bourbon”. Naturally, such a wide net of writers drawing from an interdisciplinary well of approaches results in a mixed bag of perspectives. Some offer fresh insights, some update and revise previous studies, some deal with the ephemera and distantly related media cousins to Ian Fleming and his main character. On one hand, we get excellent literary reviews as in Finn Pollard’s exploration of how John Gardner and Raymond Benson tried to keep a Cold Warrior topical and relevant; on the other, we get plot synopses of James Bond Jr. comic books and a simple directory of Bond books available in audio formats. As a result, JBWPC should appeal to an equally diverse readership—those looking for high-brow critical analyses, readers looking for information not widely available elsewhere, but mostly Bond fans wanting to match their own perspectives against this cast of critics. After all, there are as many James Bonds as there are movie goers who’ve watched a 007 film, readers who’ve enjoyed the books, or players who know Bond best from video games named after him.

    The anthology is organized into six sections. “Part I: Experiencing the World of Bond” doesn’t deal with Bond essentials, but rather posters, dances in the title sequences, architecture, designer clothes, and two overviews of Bond videogames. Part Two (which includes this reviewer’s own essay) covers Bond music from four perspectives. Then, seven essays look at gender, feminism, and the Bond girls. (Note: Why is it Judi Dench as M is frequently worth discussion as a significant female authority figure but never Lotte Lenya as Col. Klebb or Ilse Steppat as Irma Bunt?)

    The original novels don’t take center stage until “Part IV: The World of Ian Fleming” where various writers discuss Fleming’s connections to Allen Dulles and debunk myths regarding Aleister Crowley, Sidney Reilly, and Basil Zaharoff. Two writers look at Fleming’s fictional role in books using him as a character including the very odd “The Fleming Chronicles: The Amazing (Fictional) Exploits of James Bond’s Creator” in which Brad Frank traces, year by year, what different novelists had Fleming do in a variety of unrelated books.

    Matters get more serious, briefly, in “Part V: Colonialism, ‘Britishness’ and the Bond Identity” which includes the role of an English secret agent in a changing socio-political environment. Then, Peter Sellers parodying Bond in Casino Royale is examined before the aforementioned overview of James Bond Jr. comic books. The final essays, “Part VI: Rounding Out the World of Bond” were apparently gathered together to finish off the collection, but why wouldn’t “The Gay Bond” or ‘Bond Goes Camping’” by Rob Faunce and “The James Bond/Woody Allen Dialectic” by Andrea Siegel fit better in the section on sexuality and gender? Well, most of the essays in this section could easily have qualified for earlier areas of the book—perhaps it was a matter of balancing things out proportionally.

    Readers who explore the volume as a whole and not just select portions will discover how much all these essays mirror, supplement, augment, and occasionally contradict each other. When these critics look at the world in which 007 operates, three novels get in-depth treatment—Dr. No, Live and Let Die, and From Russia With Love. When they focus on Bond as a character, Casino Royale and Moonraker earn considerable discussion. Goldfinger, OHMSS, and You Only Live Twice get their due, but there’s scant mention of the novels Diamonds Are Forever, The Spy Who Loved Me, or The Man With the Golden Gun. The short stories receive only passing mentions, as do the continuation novels of Kingsley Amis and even Sebastian Faulks. One essay spends pages positing that Ian Fleming was inspired to create 007 due to his disgust over the Cambridge Spy Ring and the treachery of Edward VIII; a later study points out these notions have been made and elaborated on before. The essays on John Barry each provide observations that are stronger when put together as information from one author is often not presented by the other three. Likewise, the essays on gender are best served as a group as they explore sexuality from a wide spectrum of perspectives making for an interesting “round-table” discussion.

    One matter likely to distract some readers is the proofreading. The blame for this clearly rests with the publisher and not the editors or authors—this writer can attest that his submission, at least, did not contain the errors now memorialized in print. Considering the scope of this endeavor, the labor to seek out these pieces and assemble them, should give this volume credibility enough to override such quibbles becoming more common in today’s publishing climate.

    So how does JBWPC fit into the continuum of James Bond studies? Because of the range of the contributions, it’s difficult to see how it won’t be considered indispensible reading from 2010 on. No library shelf on Bond, or film or espionage studies for that matter, will be complete without it. For serious Bond fans, it’s a book that’s a must have despite it’s rather hefty price tag. More importantly, as with The James Bond Phenomenon: A Critical Reader, this new anthology should serve as a milestone of what place James Bond holds in international popular culture in the Twenty-First Century. When A Critical Reader came out in 2003, Daniel Craig had not yet debuted in Casino Royale, so the changes to the 007 mythos to come could not have been synthesized into critical overviews of the films. With no new movies planned for the immediate future, now seems a perfect time to take stock of where 007 fits into our collective consciousness. James Bond in World and Popular Culture now serves as the most recent yardstick by which future collections will be measured.

    James Bond in World and Popular Culture:
    The Films are Not Enough

    Editor: Robert G. Weiner, B. Lynn Whitfield and Jack Becker
    Date Of Publication: Sep 2010
    Isbn13: 978-1-4438-2289-3
    Isbn: 1-4438-2289-2

    Price Uk Gbp: 54.99
    Price Us Usd: 82.99

    The book can be ordered from
    James Bond in World and Popular Culture: The Films are Not Enough
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    James Bond in World and Popular Culture: The Films are Not Enough

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    Guest writer @ 2010-09-04
  5. 007 in San Diego: Inside Blood Stone and GoldenEye

    Written by: Dave Pinto & Chris Wright recently sent two of its best field agents on an assignment in San Diego, California to investigate the two upcoming Bond video games produced by Activision. When they weren’t utilizing the open bar or sampling the fancy hors d’oeuvres, they were interviewing members of the creative team behind Activision’s highly anticipated holiday releases, GoldenEye 007 and Blood Stone. Here is their report.

    James Bond may have been absent from the Activision booth during the four-day-long San Diego Comic-Con (22-25 July) but he was certainly not forgotten. On Wednesday evening (21 July), had the opportunity to attend an exclusive hands-on preview event in San Diego, California hosted by Activision. Despite featuring Stan Lee as the event’s special guest, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions was not the night’s focal point. Instead, Stingaree, the posh Bond-esque nightclub at which the event was held was adorned with GoldenEye 007 and Blood Stone imagery. While James Bond’s return to the silver screen may be in limbo, the event reassured us that Daniel Craig’s 007 is alive and well. Many online news outlets were invited to this event but we were there exclusively for the two Bond titles and therefore the details outlined in this report are intended to be more thorough than any other report you may find online.

    Dave Pinto with Activision senior producer Brian Pass

    First off, we would like to say how thoroughly impressed we are with Activision’s handling of the Bond franchise. After talking with several members of the creative team involved in the production of these games, it became quite clear that all of them are truly passionate about giving fans quality James Bond video games. This passion is evident in the fact that they have been working very closely with cast and crew from the film series to ensure that the games have a cinematic feel to them. By now it’s no secret that veteran Bond film and video game scribe, Bruce Feirstein, has penned both GoldenEye 007 and Blood Stone. Both feature the voice and likeness of Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench. GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo Wii and DS also features Rory Kinnear reprising his role as Chief of Staff Bill Tanner (we’re not sure if he also did voice work for Blood Stone). Blood Stone sees Joss Stone doubling as both the Bond girl (a wealthy socialite named Nicole Hunter) and the game’s title song singer (“I’ll Take It All”). Other Bond crewmembers involved in the games include composer David Arnold (GoldenEye 007 only), Daniel Craig’s stunt double, Ben Cooke, as the games’ stunt coordinator, and Lindsay Pugh, a costume supervisor that worked on the film, Quantum of Solace. Because Activision is trying to capture the essence and tone of the Daniel Craig era, Q will be absent from both games as will the presence of his trademark gadgets. By the looks of this impressive cast and crew, it appears that Activision is determined to make these two video game experiences as cinematic in quality as possible, which is fantastic news considering the current opaque state of the Bond 23 production.

    As you’re probably aware, rights issues have prevented a remake of the Nintendo 64 version of GoldenEye 007 for many years since various parties (Nintendo, Rareware/Microsoft, Activision, and EON Productions/Danjaq) would have had to be involved. When asked how these issues were resolved, Senior Producer Brian Pass explained to us that the upcoming GoldenEye 007 is not a remake of the Nintendo game but an adaptation of the 1995 film, GoldenEye, for which Activision currently has the license. When asked why they chose to re-imagine a game based on a fifteen year-old film, the producer answered that GoldenEye 007 is by far the most recognizable first-person shooter of all time, evident by countless focus groups which all but unanimously concluded that the game was their favorite. “GoldenEye hit that moment when video games and movies collided,” said Brand Manager Eric Spielman. However, the game’s namesake isn’t a guaranteed goldmine. The 2004 Electronic Arts-produced GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, which bore little to no similarity to the Nintendo 64 original was largely rejected by fans and widely considered a cheap attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the GoldenEye brand. Senior Producer Brian Pass told us that the game’s creative team was aware of the potential stigma associated with the GoldenEye name post-Rogue Agent and assured us that the new game will not be “gimmicky” in the slightest.

    Chris Wright at Comic-Con

    We can confirm that Quantum, the mysterious criminal organization featured in both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace will NOT be appearing in this year’s GoldenEye re-imagining. However, Lead Designer Brendan McLeod of n-Space, the company responsible for the game’s Nintendo DS incarnation, assured us that the GoldenEye storyline has been updated to the Daniel Craig era’s 21st century setting, showing how the world has progressed during the fifteen year interim since the release of the 1995 film. The game’s display menus all feature design cues based on MK12’s computer/cell phone graphics and M’s revolutionary “Smart Wall” introduced in Quantum of Solace. In-game mission briefings, narrated by Bill Tanner, display enemy dossiers on the “Smart Wall.” In the Nintendo 64 version, players could access the main menu and complete tasks via Bond’s wristwatch. In Activision’s version, the antiquated wristwatch will be replaced with Bond’s sleek and modern smartphone, which can be used to take critical reconnaissance photos during missions and to perform other important functions.

    Although the pre-title sequence of the original film occurred in 1986, the entirety of this new game will take place in the present day. Since the only Bond-related voice talents brought on for this game are Craig, Dench, and Kinnear, the supporting cast of characters from GoldenEye (including Alec Trevelyan, Natalya Simonova, Xenia Onatopp, General Ourumov and even Valentin Zukovsky) have all been re-imagined both visually as well as with regard to their roles in the story. For instance, 006 now looks more like Carter from the pre-title sequence in Casino Royale than Sean Bean. Some hardcore fans of the film may be put off by these slight differences in appearance and role, but just remember that James Bond looked nothing like Pierce Brosnan in the Nintendo 64 original!

    Much of the gameplay throughout the game’s pre-title sequence/first level finds Bond and 006 negotiating their way from a Russian base while under heavy gunfire amidst a torrential storm, a moody new touch. The climax of the sequence has Bond at the precipice of the dam where we first see him in the film, this time surrounded by a detachment of gun-wielding Russian soldiers. Thinking fast, Bond unstraps his parachute pack and deploys it toward the Russians thus causing a distraction that allows him to escape into the murky abyss at the base of the dam. The demo ends there so it is unclear how Bond survives the freefall without a parachute (Moonraker, anyone?). We were told that the bungee sequence from the original film was eschewed because it was more or less a product of its time when bungee jumping was still a popular sport. The restructured pre-title sequence called for a more swift and practical stunt, which will segue into a brand new main title sequence, although everyone was tight-lipped when asked if Tina Turner will return or whether there will be an entirely new song for the game.

    Once the opening presentation (which included trailers for the two Bond titles as well as three other forthcoming Activision titles) concluded, we were allowed to walk around and interact with the demos playing on various television monitors throughout the nightclub. The Blood Stone demo featured most of the cut scenes during the pre-title sequence. Set in Athens, Greece, we first see M discussing a man named Greco (the pre-title sequence’s villain, not the game’s main villain) with a Greek general. She claims he’s an international arms dealer hell-bent on disrupting a G-20 Summit by murdering world leaders whereas the general claims Greco is a man of good intentions. In a moment reminiscent of the pre-titles sequence to 1987’s The Living Daylights, Bond parachutes onto Greco’s yacht to foil his plans before they are put into motion. What ensues is a non-stop, wall-to-wall action sequence that follows Bond from air, to sea and finally, to land. A split-second glimpse of the scene immediately following the main title sequence showed what appeared to be an envoy from the G-20 Summit clad in sexy lingerie and writhing in delight after what was certainly an unforgettable roll in bed with 007.

    In conclusion, GoldenEye 007 and Blood Stone are “fully loaded,” as Q would say. We had a blast getting a sneak peak at these two new video games and we hope that you found this report enjoyable. We were told that Daniel Craig enjoys doing these games and that recently while in the studio recording voice work, he mentioned that these products are important because they are essentially the Bond film for this year. When asked whether Activision has any plans to adapt any other past Bond films into video games, Senior Producer Brian Pass told us to stay tuned because the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film series is right around the corner in 2012…

    We would like to thank Activision very much for the invitation to this exclusive hands-on preview event as well as the GoldenEye 007 and Blood Stone creative teams for taking the time to show us the games and answer our questions.

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    Guest writer @ 2010-07-27
  6. Bond Watches, James Bond Watches exhibit to feature Rolex 6538 Submariner

    Rolex 6538 Submariner to be shown at National Watch & Clock Museum “Bond Watches, James Bond Watches” exhibit, June 18, 2010 – April 30, 2011

    Written by: Dell Deaton, author-creator

    Thanks to the efforts of Bob Ridley and his Watchmakers International, the “Bond Watches, James Bond Watches” exhibit will feature on display a restored Rolex Submariner 6538 model throughout its run at the National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania.

    Although publications such as WatchTime and researchers including James Dowling have discussed a range of possibilities, no credentialed expert has ever officially gone on record to identify an exact reference number for the Dr. No Rolex Submariner worn by actor Sean Connery as James Bond in that film.

    Until now.

    Screen Capture: James Bond Ultimate Edition, 'Dr. No' (feature film), (c)1962 United Artists Corporation and Danjaq, LLC

    Screen Capture: James Bond Ultimate Edition, Dr. No (feature film), ©1962 United Artists Corporation and Danjaq, LLC

    At the specific request of, the world renowned Rolex trader and author Franca E. Guido Mondani studied the wristwatch images that appeared on screen in Dr. No and personally identified this for our publication as a 6538 model. This follows up on with even greater specificity on research published in the limited edition text on which he served as editor, Rolex Submariner Story, 2009 edition.

    With this information, I approached Watchmakers International in my role as Guest Curator for the upcoming “Bond Watches, James Bond Watches” exhibit to see if he could make a 6538 available for display as part of this at the National Watch & Clock Museum, June 18, 2010, through April 30, 2011. In response, he’s not only been able to make just such arrangements, but the 6538 to be displayed is one that he has personally restored.

    Bob Ridley and Watchmakers International is not only one of the foremost restorers of vintage Rolex pieces, but also exclusive sponsor for our display of Ian Fleming’s personal Rolex as part of the exhibit.

    Dell Deaton is the creator-author of 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.

    Guest writer @ 2010-05-17
  7. James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch: Part II

    Written by: Dell Deaton, 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 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

    James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch: Part II

    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 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).

    James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch: Part II

    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, 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, 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 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 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 from Eon Productions.

    James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch: Part II

    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,” 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 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.

    Guest writer @ 2010-04-03
  8. James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch: Part I

    Written by: Dell Deaton, author-creator

    The Living Daylights (1987) offers less than 10 seconds of focus on the wristwatches worn by Timothy Dalton in this, his first outing as James Bond. Most of this reveals little more than a hint of bezel and crown, or merely profile the bracelets. In all instances, the watch is adjunct to some larger action, seen briefly in passing motion.

    Yet this is still enough for to identify the first Dalton-Bond watch as a thin-case TAG Heuer 980.031 Professional “Night-Dive” watch. For now we’ll call it 80-100% “certain,” short of having direct confirmation from Eon Productions (makers of the Bond films) – which, based on history, isn’t likely to be forthcoming. Furthermore, we’ll point collectors in a better direction to look for the second, silver-colored Bond watch Dalton wore later in The Living Daylights. That means equally important clues regarding where not to look (hint: Rolex-Switzerland isn’t the origin for this one).

    Unlike a lot of what does in terms of providing bulletproof identifications, the research here is actually more akin to what broader historians do in search of details for horological artifacts associated with real-world people, in real-world circumstances. In other words, the substance upon which Ian Fleming created his 007 fantasies and the watches his protagonist wore throughout.

    Now back to the world of James Bond, thirty-five years after Fleming first wrote of it: Why has the TAG Heuer watch affiliation been so hard to nail down?

    James Bond in the mid-1980s

    James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch: Part I

    Heuer 980.031 watch similar to the one worn by Timothy Dalton as James Bond in The Living Daylights pre-title sequence.

    Immediately before and after the two Timothy Dalton films, wristwatch product placements can be ascertained from references in the closing credits. But The Living Daylights includes no such acknowledgment; if these watches were supplied to the production from an original manufacturer, it would have to have been done according to some curious departure from a practice that recognized SEIKO in the film just prior (A View to a Kill, 1985), and Omega in the one that next followed Dalton’s pair (GoldenEye, 1995).

    Most likely, then, James Bond watches for The Living Daylights were either purchased outright, or provided by a jeweler or another general properties supplier not further specified as the wristwatches source.

    Watch selection for The Living Daylights also fell under the context of an intense and challenging effort to replace Roger Moore in the lead role that he’d held for the previous seven films, spanning a dozen years. Bond producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli described this in his autobiography as an urgent time. John Glen, director of both A View to a Kill and The Living Daylights wrote for his book, “Despite what you may have read elsewhere, we really didn’t have a clue who to cast as James Bond when Roger hung up his gun holster.” So, a very tight 25 months between premier dates here.

    Even after Pierce Brosnan became heir-apparent after a variety of hopefuls were screen-tested during the summer of 1986, his deal fell through – leading to the casting of Timothy Dalton that August: Ten months before the June 1987 opening of The Living Daylights. Not much time to negotiate and close a product placement deal, which first assumes that wristwatches would have even ranked near the top of such an efforts list.

    Broccoli wrote of the time that, “we not only needed a new 007, but an entirely fresh concept for the fifteenth James Bond film.” Further to this, Glen recalled, “Tim was a serious fan of the Ian Fleming novels and was keen to incorporate as much of Fleming’s original characterization as possible…. We had to be bold. Tim referred to the Fleming novels a lot and I could see he was preparing a characterization for Bond connoisseurs…. Tim’s input began with the first wardrobe meeting: when Bond wasn’t wearing the obligatory tux, he wanted a more casual look, perhaps more in keeping with the times.” Major changes. Many of them.

    It’s been established that Fleming made very effective use of wristwatch choices to flesh out many important characters in his original stories. Hugo Drax wore a Patek Philippe in Moonraker. For Jed Midnight of the Shadow Syndicate, a “complicated gold watch on his wrist must have weighed nearly half a pound” in Goldfinger. And for Agent 007 himself, a “cheap Japanese wristwatch that Tiger had provided” told him the time during his undercover mission (disguised as a poor fisherman) to finally dispatch his arch-enemy Blofeld in You Only Live Twice.

    SEIKO watches helped define the James Bond role for Roger Moore through most of his tenure. SEIKO Watch Corporation has confirmed directly to me in writing that it ceased to be a formal product placement partner with Eon Productions following A View to a Kill. So Dalton’s Bond would be fleshed out by some other time piece brand.

    Which one? The door to the next 007 watch stood wide open.

    Beginning research, May 2008

    Early in 2008, I started an organized effort to identify the James Bond watch or watches worn by Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights. It quickly became clear that at least two different watches were featured: The first appeared to have a cream-colored dial, black case, and black band; the second showed a silver-colored case on a silver-colored band. As an aid to research and collection, labeled the first “Gibraltar Watch,” the second, “Tangier Rooftop Watch.”

    Glimpses of the Gibraltar Watch can be seen at various points in the pre-title sequence. But the best close-ups come during the parts where Bond has torn through the canvass roofing on the bad guy’s getaway vehicle, between approximately 5½ and 6½ minutes into the film (as viewed on the 2006 Ultimate Edition DVD). Here Dalton grabs the steering wheel with his left hand, wristwatch exposed below the sleeve, providing over seventy-five distinct frames that we stop-captured for closer analysis.

    Several attributes are readily apparent. In addition to the Gibraltar Watch description above, Bond’s timekeeper shows dark hands and dark markers. It has a graduated bezel, black in color. Additionally, the bracelet is jubilee-style.

    While it wouldn’t have made sense at this point to rule out some form of polymer or high-tech resin as a case material, the first most likely candidate here is something with PVD-coated surfaces.

    “Physical Vapor Deposition,” or “PVD,” is a term used to describe a family of coating processes. The general purposes for PVD application are to improve performance in specific applications, namely, hardness and lubricity (reduction of friction). By way of perspective, the average relative micro-hardness of tool-steel measures 58 to 62 Rc (Rockwell scale), versus well-over 80 Rc for some PVD-coated materials applied using evaporation or sputtering technologies (based on current 2010 standards). Some process experts conservatively estimate that this can result in a life of two- to three-times that of an uncoated tool; extreme cases have shown ten-fold increases in performance versus comparable base metals sans coating.

    As various watch alternatives might have been considered for 007 in 1986, this is very much the sort of description one might imagine as having appeal to the James Bond film producers. It’s in keeping with the cutting-edge direction that instructed horological selections that began with the Hamilton Pulsar featured in Live and Let Die fourteen years earlier, and the various quartz watch choices selected for many of the films that followed.

    It also enhanced the new characterization of James Bond as anticipated from the outset of the Timothy Dalton casting. A tougher 007, as Michael G. Wilson, co-author and co-producer of The Living Daylights said in the September 1987 issue of Starlog magazine.

    James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch: Part I

    Heuer 980.031 Professional “Night Dive” watch, featuring luminescent dial, with PVD-coated case and jubilee bracelet; mint condition (new old stock).

    But in order to identify this watch with only the visual information to which we had access, poured through leading printed references and began periodically posting different screen captures on various non-brand-specific Internet wristwatch forums. The only context given was that the watch in question was from the year 1986 or prior. The 980.031, of course, was in current production during this time frame, TAG Heuer a leading user of PVD coatings in wristwatch designs.

    On Monday, May 19, 2008, I posted to the Blog an entry titled, “Was the first Dalton-Bond a Heuer?” In summary, the following was observed. “Shading makes it difficult at this point to say a great deal about the case and bracelet color, but the dial is clearly light. Overall, the images make the black 1000 series Heuer 980 diver with glow face a strong possibility. The second image I’ve posted would be consistent with that watch in a PVD body and matching bracelet.”

    For the next twenty months, I sporadically shared images from among the seventy-five-plus screen-captures collected. No better alternative ever surfaced; nothing even close. At the same time, arguments favoring reference 980.031 produced by the company now known as TAG Heuer grew increasingly persuasive.

    Serious analysis of TAG Heuer watches

    During the first week of January, 2010, formed a study group with David Chalmers and Paul Gavin to critically test the Heuer-Bond watch theory. Chalmers, based in Hong Kong, runs, “a website dedicated to both the Vintage Heuer watches from the 1960-1980 period, as well as the new TAG Heuers of today.” Gavin, in the United Kingdom, collects Heuer watches focusing on 1964 to 1984, and includes among his current projects an effort to extensively catalogue Heuer and TAG Heuer diver watches. He has just launched to facilitate ongoing research into these tool pieces.

    Neither of these men was predisposed to name TAG Heuer the first newly identified addition to any list of James Bond watches since Omega took on the mantle with GoldenEye in 1995. They’re watch guys, not 007 fans. Further to this, I actually held off for a bit in our initial discussions before revealing even the possibility that our work might involve a potential James Bond connection.

    Although consistent with the 980.031, the Timothy Dalton Gibraltar Watch from The Living Daylights “could” have been seen as a 980.031.60 reference. The former has a standard diver’s bezel: With numbers on the tens, major indices between each of those increments, and further marked for each minute between zero and fifteen; these increase around the clockwise direction. The 980.031.60 features a countdown bezel on which all sixty minutes are marked, numbers are shown at each five-minute increment, and numbers ascend in counter-clockwise rotation.

    In one of the earliest of what would turn out to be a series of invaluable side-by-side comparisons produced for our team review, Paul Gavin identified the Gibraltar Watch bezel as that of a standard diver’s configuration. This eliminated the 980.031.60 from further consideration. No surprise; it’s also the much rarer one.

    By the way, for those who collect 007 (watch) trivia, we can confirm that the time shown on this Dalton-Bond wristwatch is 3:30, with the sweep second-hand pointing to the 12 o’clock position.

    Unfortunately, the position of these hands presents serious problems in key areas of further differentiation among reference 980.031 options including the brand logo.

    In 1985, a company by the name of Techniques d’Avant Garde (“TAG”) bought an established Swiss watchmaker with a history dating back to the late 1800s, founded by Edouard Heuer and his sons Jules-Edouard and Charles-Auguste. The result was what became known as TAG Heuer by the time pre-production began on The Living Daylights. Even before the merger, Heuer had produced a number of dial variations for its 980.031 diving watch. Some simply showed the “Heuer” logo below the 12 o’clock position; others had added the number “1000” just below the name.

    James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch: Part I

    TAG Heuer 980.031 wristwatch, evidencing typical PVD wear, bracelet stretch, and aged dial coloring (this sample is in very good condition).

    With the advent of TAG Heuer, a re-branded 980.031 was produced with the “TAG Heuer” logo, otherwise indistinguishable from the “Heuer” version it replaced. But distribution channel queues and indeterminate production change-over date records suggest that the Gibraltar Watch – which now calls the “Gibraltar Heuer” – is equally as likely to have branded with either logo. Therefore, the dial on the Gibraltar Heuer at this point can be narrowed no further than to one of perhaps two to four variations (mostly differentiated by small changes to text and placement details).

    Some Heuer reference 980.031 wristwatches had filled 6, 9, and 12 o’clock markers. The aforementioned Gavin analysis, however, clearly shows that the watch worn by Timothy Dalton as James Bond had open markers at these positions.

    Conversely, some of these watches showed date windows with black numbers against white backgrounds; others had white numbers against black backgrounds. The note made above about the time showing as 3:30 puts the hour-hand in a position to obscure meaningful attempts at reaching certainty on this question for the James Bond Gibraltar Heuer. Similarly, the 12 o’clock second-hand position adds to the problem of calling the logo “definitely Heuer” versus “definitely TAG Heuer.”

    Finally, many 980-series Heuer watches were produced in two different case thicknesses. One is approximately 30% thicker than the other, crystal-to-protruding-caseback. The thicker case features crown guards that more fully surround the winding crown than does its less-hefty brother. Examination of available profile images showing the watch on Dalton’s wrist clearly indicate the thinner, i.e., 10 mm O.D., case version.

    The first TAG Heuer Bond watch

    Both David Chalmers and Paul Gavin expressed concern during our research about the relatively small bezel diameter of the TAG Heuer 980.031 relative to current style trends. It didn’t seem “big enough” to be a James Bond watch.

    So we took a close look at Timothy Dalton wearing the Rolex Submariner Date in Licence to Kill (1989), the second of Dalton’s two outings as James Bond. This watch has been clearly identified by model, if not number, and thus it can thus be used as a frame-of-reference on the actor’s wrist. The Sub Date bezel diameter is 8% larger than that of the Gibraltar Heuer, and it’s well-over 6% longer lug-to-lug. That gave us the comparative fit for which we were looking to validate the Heuer.

    Short of having original detailed records from Eon Productions, the thin-case Heuer or TAG Heuer 980.031 Professional black PVD “Night-Dive” watch with phosphorescent dial, uni-directional turning bezel with click-stops, 38mm case (excluding crown), and water-resistant to 660 feet, is the 80-100% certainty determination for the Gibraltar Watch worn by Timothy Dalton as 007 in The Living Daylights.

    Equally, though subtly different possibilities include the version with Heuer-only branding, and with either white-on-black or black-on-white date window numbering. Markers must be open at the 6, 9, and 12 o’clock positions (actually, they are filled with Tritium), with or without “1000” below the logo, and either “1000” or “Quartz” above the depth-rating near the 6 o’clock dial position.

    Use of its watches in The Living Daylights is no surprise to TAG Heuer itself. Last month, David Chalmers contacted several current and former Heuer and TAG Heuer employees in the United States and in Europe with fundamentals of the research presented here.

    TAG Heuer confirmed that it was already aware of the arguable James Bond connection to its brand, but declined to “officially” confirm which watches were used.

    For James Bond fans with interests beyond the lead character, Chalmers, Gavin, and I believe that the TAG Heuer 980.031 is worn by two other actors in The Living Daylights. Starting approximately 3 minutes, 16 seconds into the film, it is evidenced on the imposter (Carl Rigg) as he clips the Smiert Spionam tag to the climbing rope of a Double-O agent who meets a sad demise. Later, proximal to 2 hours, 52 seconds, Felix Leiter (John Terry) raises his left hand to his ear in contact with Bond – showing the audience that he, Leiter, is also wearing a 980.031 TAG Heuer wristwatch.

    It’s credible, one might suppose, that James Bond and Felix Leiter could be wearing virtually the same type of watch as field operatives. But the imposter on Gibraltar, too? Sure. Recall at just after 3 minutes into the pre-title sequence, the imposter’s clothing closely resembles that of the three men deployed from MI6. This is clearly intended to fool the NATO exercise guards on the military installation, which it does, as we see when the imposter is shot with what appears to be pink paint, as if merely another player in the exercise.

    Two of the added challenges to identification of this James Bond Heuer lie in the watch itself.

    In a marketplace where appearance is important to the trade of aging pieces, these watches not only take a step back to the shine of comparable stainless steel horology, but also more readily show their age in PVD wear. Many of the few watches that do come up for sale have cases where the coating has degraded to a point that leaves them looking more silver than black; a large number no longer include their original bracelets. Mid-sized diver watches such as this are not that popular among collectors anyway.

    Pricing is another factor. Used reference 980.031 Heuers and TAG Heuers currently sell for between $250.00 and $500.00 (U.S.). That’s a far cry from Omega and Rolex values. Over the years, it’s possible that owners of these TAG Heuers simply haven’t seen them as worth the effort to market as vintage.

    There’s a final note of irony in this watch as it relates to the original Ian Fleming short story that provided the impetus for scripting The Living Daylights. That brief adventure was first published in the June 1962 issue of ARGOSY magazine under the title, “Berlin Escape.” There, on page 99, “…James Bond glanced down at the luminous dial of his watch.” How nicely consistent these words are with what we now know of the actual watch that Timothy Dalton wore for his introduction as Agent 007.

    But what of the second James Bond watch in that film, the “Tangier Rooftop Watch”? Look for those details in “Introducing the TAG Heuer James Bond Wristwatch: Part II,” coming up next.

    That article also completes the indications that point to a dominant, if not exclusive TAG Heuer association with The Living Daylights.

    Dell Deaton is the creator-author of 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.

    Guest writer @ 2010-04-02
  9. Era ends for James Bond Rolex Submariner Date wristwatch

    Written by: Dell Deaton, author-creator

    Basel, Switzerland— For the first time in the history of James Bond films, Rolex is no longer offering a current watch model that’s consistent with any on-screen choice of 007.

    A new Rolex Submariner Date reference 116610LN has just been introduced at Baselworld 2010 (March 18-25), the premier trade show for the wristwatch industry, held annually in Basel, Switzerland. It replaces the Rolex 16610 Sub Date which was introduced in 1988, according to experts Franca E. Guido Mondani and Lele Ravagnani, who discussed this in their definitive book, Rolex Submariner Story.

    Era ends for James Bond Rolex Submariner Date wristwatch

    Rolex model 16610 Submariner Date wristwatch.
    Image courtesy and Dell Deaton.

    It’s most likely that actor Timothy Dalton wore a Rolex 16610 for his second outing as James Bond in Licence to Kill, a film that opened during the summer of 1989.

    The history of Rolex and the movie-Bond character dates back to 1961 and pre-production planning for the first Eon Productions contribution to this series, Dr. No. From the very beginning, filmmakers recognized the importance of wristwatch selection in fleshing out their lead man. As John Cork and Bruce Scivally emphasized in James Bond: The Legacy, “he could not just wear a watch, it needed to be a Rolex.”

    Over the years, performers changed as Bond was variously played by Sean Connery, George Lazenby, and Roger Moore. So, too, did the Rolex models that were featured on their wrists. But Rolex is renowned for the slow pace at which it changes designs and shifts direction in technology. So even as movies came along where James Bond would carry out missions with the support of competing brands, local Rolex dealers could continue to offer new stocks of models consistent with whatever 007 had worn last time he had had a Rolex.

    For example, Christie’s auctions verify that two Rolex model 5513 Submariner wristwatches were modified to suggest Q-Branch gadget functions for the December 1973 release of Live and Let Die. Rolex continued to produce the 5513 into 1989 — albeit sufficiently evolved in appearance by then to no longer qualify as what would consider screen-correct (“proper reference number” notwithstanding).

    After The Man with the Golden Gun in 1974, fifteen years and six films passed without another James Bond Rolex watch.

    Era ends for James Bond Rolex Submariner Date wristwatch

    Rolex model 16610 Submariner Date wristwatch. Image courtesy and Dell Deaton.

    Then Licence to Kill began filming and the Rolex affiliation was renewed with the first (and, thus far, only) appearance of its Submariner Date wristwatch. Given the frequency with which “Rolex” is cited in connection with James Bond, it’s rather ironic that Licence to Kill is the sole film in which 007 wore a wristwatch with the signature date-magnifier that Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf so firmly established as an icon for his watch company.

    Neither Rolex nor Eon Productions has ever specifically identified the Licence to Kill timekeeper. But director John Glen in his autobiography, For My Eyes Only, tied the start of filming to July of 1988. At that time, as Mondani and Ravagnani have documented, no less than three Rolex Sub Date model reference numbers could have been available through authorized dealers at retail.

    Submariner Date 16800: Produced 1979-1988.

    Submariner Date 168000: Produced 1987-1988.

    Submariner Date 16610: Produced 1988 until just recently.

    Based solely on what can be seen on film, it’s impossible to say for certain which was actually worn by Timothy Dalton as James Bond. Referred to as the “Leiter Wedding Rolex” for serious researchers and collectors, all that can be said is that a screen-correct version should have a sapphire crystal, glossy dial, and “bicchierini” indices (that is, time-markers surrounded by white gold).

    There are, of course, technical differences among these three otherwise seeming look-alikes. Changes to case metal composition enhanced corrosion resistance. The earlier 3035 caliber movement from 1977 replaced by the 3135 improved durability.

    Additionally, by the time work began on Licence to Kill, producers were dedicated to appointing James Bond with the latest in materials. Wristwatches were not only current models, but, by the late 1980s, just after the SEIKO period, some of the most advanced of their time. This certainly favors selection of the 16610 over similar alternatives. And, as stated in Rolex Submariner Story, cases for this reference were being produced as far back as 1986 in anticipation of releasing the 16610 wristwatch two years later.

    Clearly there was a strategy to roll out the 16610 reference as 16800 and 168000 inventories depleted. A plan no doubt enhanced by the widely established popularity of the Rolex Submariner Date.

    Era ends for James Bond Rolex Submariner Date wristwatch

    Rolex model 116610LN Submariner Date wristwatch, just introduced at Baselworld 2010. Image courtesy Rolex.

    Eon Productions had come to enjoy a close connection to the Rolex brand over the years since Dr. No. Over half of all 007 films released before Licence to Kill feature Rolex watches; several highlight more than one. Despite lack of any formal product placement credit, these watches were shown in more close-ups than any competing model. Rolex was chosen to serve as the first elaborate gadget-watch. Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman chose Rolex to reward great service by team members such as that of Peter Hunt on You Only Live Twice in 1967.

    Both Rolex and Eon had an interest in having the very latest Sub Date model for Timothy Dalton when 007 returned to the watchmaker of Ian Fleming after its decade-and-a-half absence. It’s hard to imagine that anyone inside this film production would have settled for old stock. Cubby Broccoli himself was on hand for Licence to Kill with a continued commitment to make fantastic things happen.

    In the years since then, the Rolex 16610 has changed little. The bracelet is technically different, and the lugs no longer have holes that pass all the way through for its springbars.

    But the new 116610LN that replaces it is obviously changed.

    Readily apparent is its ceramic “Cerachrom” bezel insert with platinum gradations, fitted to a case with much larger crown guards. The bracelet features a completely redesigned clasp design and functioning.

    Water resistance is rated to a depth of 300 meters / 1,000 feet, protected by a case made from 904L steel, with timekeeping provided by a COSC-certified 3135 caliber movement: These are the same as what’s found in the 16610, of course. Yet the 116610LN is sufficiently different overall as to deny any claim this newest Rolex Submariner Date might otherwise make to James Bond watch status. It’s more than a different number. In the world of 007, there are no substitutes.

    Baselworld 2010 closes this Thursday, March 25. With it, a chapter in movie history that dates back to 1961 will end as well.

    But— like James Bond himself: Will Rolex return?

    Dell Deaton is the creator-author of 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.

    Guest writer @ 2010-03-22
  10. How I Found the Original James Bond Watch

    Written by: Dell Deaton, author-creator

    Originally published in NAWCC BULLETIN, Journal of the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, June 2009.

    The literary, or original, watch of personal choice for the James Bond character is a Rolex 1016 Explorer. Details related to my making this first definitive identification were published in the February 2009 issue of WatchTime magazine. So this is not an article about “what” Agent 007 wore, but, rather, it’s a piece more functionally relevant to BULLETIN readers: “How was it found?”

    Ian Fleming's personal Rolex 1016 Explorer

    The original James Bond watch: Ian Fleming’s personal Rolex 1016 Explorer. Image copyright 2009 Imperial War Museum and (used with permission).

    Yes, “Rolex” is the only James Bond watch specifically named by creator Ian Fleming. But watch collectors who read Fleming’s books after hearing about “the James Bond Rolex” are often surprised at how little attention the brand is actually given in those pages. In fact, Rolex is ascribed to Bond in only two novels. It appears one time during the plot of Live and Let Die (1954). Nine years later, Rolex is mentioned an unprecedented seven times as Bond’s own purchase in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963).

    Although James Bond is a fictional figure, Ian Fleming invariably looked to reality for details. He gave a trade name for 007’s shirts. Aston Martin is an actual car. Authentic brand references helped him sweep readers along through fantastic situations by hooking them to the real world with citations his audience was likely to know through advertising.

    For me, “Bond” serves as a creative theme for the watches I collect; the literary James Bond watch is where I start.

    Dating Watches through Fleming’s Writing Routine

    Ian Fleming wrote his James Bond stories between January 1952 and August 1964, following a strict, selfimposed cycle to produce one book per year, resulting in a total of 14.

    With his second novel, Live and Let Die, he established a routine that all but the last two books would follow to publication. His preliminary research and notes organization began some 18 months out. Individual manuscripts were then written, start-to-finish, during the initial two months of the year prior to publication. Over the course of the next 12 months, those complete drafts were revised, fact-checked, and edited to final form.

    Understanding this history is critical in accurately dating references to physical wristwatches. So the sequencing above, for example, at least initially suggested to me that the Bond Rolex in Live and Let Die would have had to be based on something from the fourth quarter of 1952.

    This is consistent with my review of the typed Live and Let Die manuscript archived in the Lilly Library on the campus of Indiana University at Bloomington. The word “Rolex” in Fleming’s own bound edition there appears on page 111.

    The larger context of the Live and Let Die plot makes that watch mission-specific. In other words, Fleming didn’t intend to define Bond’s personal watch choice, but, rather, deliberately used the Rolex name to validate a tool watch among a larger inventory of diving gear and weaponry he described as having been received by 007 from his quartermaster (“Q-Branch”) in London. “Rolex” merely enhances plot credibility, in this case, giving his protagonist the ability to check the time while submerged. It’s on par with “Champion,” maker of the Live and Let Die harpoon gun, also sourced from Q-Branch.

    In an earlier chapter that describes preparations for the dive, Jacques Cousteau is named more than once as a source from which Bond was learning through books he’d borrowed. This mirrors Fleming’s own real-life research technique. He had just struck up a friendship with Cousteau at that time and even visited with him during his work surrounding discovery of the 2,200-year-old Marcus Sestius wine ship off the Bay of Marseilles.

    All the evidence I’ve seen points to a high likelihood that Captain Cousteau provided quite a bit of technical detail, if not motivation, for sequences related to Bond’s climactic 300-yard swim in Live and Let Die. Exciting as this association may be, however, I would not connect it to a specific watch nor to any particular Rolex model.

    'How I Found the Original James Bond Watch'

    “How I Found the Original James Bond Watch,” featuring photo of Ian Fleming wearing James Bond’s Rolex; NAWCC BULLETIN, June 2009.

    Ian Fleming thought no more of that Rolex than as an efficient shorthand to substantiate a wristwatch that could perform as required on a commando mission to mine an enemy ship, moored at an anchorage of about 30 feet. His writing shows not the slightest trace of his otherwise characteristic attention to detail when describing physical pieces he’d seen (e.g., Where is the dial luminescence and rotating bezel—obvious and extremely relevant, if these had been features of a developmental Submariner that had served as its basis?).

    Responsible research requires that I draw this line as well. Editors at WatchTime felt the same way, deleting a discussion of Jacques Cousteau from the earliest draft of my feature article.

    Further reason to avoid overreaching here comes from evidence of just how effective Fleming otherwise could be in using horology as a means of carefully defining characters and enriching plotlines.

    His first novel, Casino Royale (1953), features a shadowy Swiss figure who is “a traveller in watches.” Fleming’s first script treatment (1959) for a proposed 007 motion picture provides the heroine with a cover story of working for customs in search of stolen Swiss watches. He gave other high-profile characters important timepieces by Patek Philippe in 1955, Cartier in 1956, and Girard-Perregaux in 1957. One story published in 1961 even used a radium-painted watch dial to test a Geiger Counter.

    Photos from the 1950s clearly show that Fleming wore a variety of different watches into his Bond era. These were alternatively on bracelets and straps. He seemed to favor lower-profile cases and dark dials, simply decorated, with no complications of any sort.

    So I concluded many years ago that it was not due to oversight, nor for any lack of interest or knowledge that Ian Fleming had chosen to be so oblique in defining the James Bond watch. Nor was it out of any reluctance to get into the particulars of Bond’s individual tastes, since Fleming otherwise routinely explored the minutiae of Agent 007’s preferences in food and women.

    Naming James Bond watch brands throughout the series would have perfectly, intimately served Fleming, then. But that’s not what he did.

    Why not? Because, purposefully, Bond’s watch needed to be a commodity due to the nature of his work. This is confirmed by the copy of a letter provided to me by Lucy Fleming, the author’s niece. In correspondence dated June 5, 1958, Ian Fleming responded to a fan by the name of B. W. Goodden, stating that the practice of James Bond, “in fact, is to use fairly cheap, expendable wrist watches on expanding metal bracelets….”

    Thus, not only is the reference to Rolex in Live and Let Die an anomaly, but, as I wrote above, it is an exception that had to be allowed to credibly have a wristwatch available to function underwater. Otherwise, it was Fleming’s clear intent for all James Bond watch choices to be generics, through Goldfinger (1959). In no case before 1961 was there an actual watch he referenced from the real world. So long as watches meet the criteria of “cheap” and “expendable,” worn on “expanding metal bracelets,” any number of timekeepers fit the bill as James Bond watches in books one through ten.

    And this is how the earliest James Bond watch was presented on the wrist of an actor. See Barry Nelson in the Chrysler Climax Mystery Theater version of Casino Royale for CBS television, October 21, 1954. That show aired less than six months after the May 5 publication of Live and Let Die.

    Literary-Bond versus Movie-Bond

    'How I Found the Original James Bond Watch'

    Ian Fleming’s Rolex 1016 Explorer was first displayed to the public for The Ian Fleming Centenary; Journal of the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, June 2009.

    Things were different when EON Productions began shooting scenes on location for its first James Bond film, Dr. No, on January 16, 1962. Harry Saltzman and Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli were the producers; Terence Young directed. Actor Sean Connery was James Bond. His movie-Bond was wearing a Rolex Submariner when Ian Fleming famously visited those sets and interacted with the cast that January.

    For decades, many have cited this to justify arguments favoring a Sub model as the original James Bond watch: Fleming was there. He wouldn’t have missed noting the details of the watch Connery was wearing in character. Fleming’s style and number of references vis-à-vis the literary-Bond watch significantly changed in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service—unquestionably written after having seen the movie-Bond watch.

    A close read actually shows that Ian Fleming resoundingly rejected the Sean Connery Rolex when giving specifics for his own literary-Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. For that book, he gave Agent 007 the same metal bracelet discussed in his B. W. Goodden letter; in the Connery film, the watch is obviously worn on a dark, textured strap with a buckle. The Submariner in Dr. No has only markers, not numbers, like the Rolex in Chapter 14 of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

    Much later in 1962, Playboy magazine asked Fleming for a “description of James Bond,” and he responded on December 11. This letter is quite consistent with his then-unpublished manuscript of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and strikingly dissimilar to Connery’s Bond. Fleming favored for Bond his own, personal traits of “blue-grey” eyes and short-sleeved shirts (even with a suit).

    He also wrote: “Wears Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch.”

    However, there’s no evidence that this might somehow have been a personal rejection of Connery, himself, in the role of Bond. In fact, Fleming’s stepdaughter Fionn Morgan was present at one of the first meetings between the Bond-creator and Bond-actor; she remembers an immediate acceptance and a good rapport. Nor was Ian Fleming adverse to having EON Productions influence his novel in progress. Note his mention in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service of the virtually unknown Ursula Andress, who played female lead in Dr. No. Fleming simply wanted to hold some elements of the literary Bond’s choices to himself. This included giving 007 his Rolex Explorer.

    Among those less sure that a Submariner must have been the original intent of Fleming, there have been a variety of curious attempts to guess the true Rolex type. From a snapshot by Mary Slater to the professional session done by Harry Benson, period photographs have been examined in search of clues. An excellent history titled James Bond: The Man and His World, by Henry Chancellor, features one stock image of a Rolex Oyster Perpetual that caused some to erroneously claim “Mystery Solved!” in 2005.

    I have long been convinced that the answer was to find an actual Rolex, or perhaps a number of Rolex wristwatches, that were worn by Ian Fleming himself. My approach, then, had been to make direct inquiries over the years to the Ian Fleming Will Trust, biographers, and surviving contemporaries of Fleming.

    Initially, the clearest answers I’d gotten were most discouraging: Very few personal effects of this nature survived the author. Ironically, it was a particular Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean that led me to identify the original James Bond Rolex of Fleming’s time.

    On March 8, 2006, amidst all sorts of secrecy surrounding the newly cast Daniel Craig, I became the first to identify the wristwatch he’d wear as Agent 007 in the so-called franchise reboot, Casino Royale. Although I’d been studying Bond watches since the 1970s, it was this Omega Planet Ocean that made my name synonymous with James Bond watches.

    Following the unprecedented public acclaim with which Casino Royale was received, attention slowly shifted to preparations for the Ian Fleming Centenary, timed to what would have been his 100th birthday, on May 28, 2008. As part of this, the Imperial War Museum in London was planning to open a special exhibit on April 17, 2008, titled, For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond,.

    Family members were approached for artifacts, and Fionn Morgan supplied items never before displayed in public: a pair of her stepfather’s cuff links and his only surviving wristwatch—a Rolex Explorer I (according to her clear recollection, the only Rolex he’d ever owned). That’s where I came in. I specifically identified this illusive “Oyster Perpetual” for the first time in detail and provided historical context.

    To revisit and expand a bit on my WatchTime feature, the Ian Fleming Rolex is a model 1016 Explorer, case number 596851. It still has the factory-delivered 7206 riveted, hollow-link (nonexpanding) bracelet with the number “58” on its endpieces. The mechanism is a Rolex 1560 caliber.

    James Bond’s Radioactive Watch Dial

    The original dial under the “superdome” crystal of this wristwatch is what fascinates me the most. It had indices painted with radium-226, no doubt providing the referent for Fleming when he wrote of Bond’s watch on page 154 of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, first edition: “The big luminous numerals said midnight.”

    Vintage Rolex Explorer 1016 wristwatch

    The literary James Bond Rolex Explorer 1016 had a radium dial, visibly illuminated for mission-viewing night or day! Image courtesy, 2010.

    Debate surrounding luminescent material containing a radioactive isotope of the element radium has received excellent technical coverage in previous BULLETIN issues. I wasn’t in London when the Fleming watch decision was made, but I’m told that concerns related to radium exposure came down to a decision that its dial be replaced prior to showing it at the Imperial War Museum.

    The photograph of the watch that appears on page 89 of the February 2009 WatchTime was taken after that change.

    So, in addition to being aged, the original dial would have only had the word “SWISS” below its 6 o’clock position, as opposed to “SWISS – T < 25,” as seen in WatchTime. It also had a minute-track insert. Finally, the word “Rolex” was in a slab serif typeface, and the crown logo had a more squared proportion than later versions of the 1016.

    I’ve been able to access a similar Rolex Explorer with a 596,xxx serial number for comparison and analysis by the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Its caseback markings date its production to the fourth quarter of 1960, placing it—and the original Bond watch, with an identical caseback—nicely into the retail window I wrote about in WatchTime.

    This virtually identical watch, which still has its original dial, will be on display at the 2009 NAWCC National Convention in Grand Rapids, MI.

    Manufacture date, markings, and other important Fleming-Bond watch configurations described in this BULLETIN article have been confirmed by Rolex UK.

    Last May 28 I was at the Lilly Library in conjunction with Ian Fleming Centenary commemorations. While there, I took time to pull from their archive an original On Her Majesty’s Secret Service uncorrected proof, which would have been printed shortly before that novel was first published on April 1, 1963—almost six months after the October 5, 1962, premiere of Dr. No starring Sean Connery. I found that Ian Fleming had not only continued to make changes to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service well into spring 1963, but among those he’d made a key correction in reference to the James Bond watch.

    But there was no effort to reconcile a consistency with the movie-Bond wristwatch. The singular “Oyster Perpetual” wording in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service could have easily been changed to “Submariner” at that late date. It wasn’t.

    This was a period of unique challenges for Ian Fleming, intimately, as the creative force behind 007. Litigation stemming from an earlier attempt at a movie deal sought to wrest credit from him for various successes of the James Bond icon. A massive heart attack in 1961 mandated radical changes to his active lifestyle. The Spy Who Loved Me

    Then, with the Dr. No movie, the world of Tinsel Town got him caught up in a measure of playacting choreographed to blur the lines between his actual service with the Department of Naval Intelligence during World War II and the fictional exploits of his fantasy secret agent.

    In my WatchTime article, I wrote that it was “hard to imagine that Ian Fleming would have let the last detail of Bond’s Rolex model be determined by someone else.” My research leads me to conclude that that “someone” was three-time 007 film director Terence Young. In an interview published in 1981, Young described the nature of his rivalry with Fleming at that time over how the James Bond character would be presented going forward.

    I’m confident that the Bond creator held fast to key details of the character as reminders that it would always be “Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007” (as, in fact, the lead to each new movie states even to this day).

    In You Only Live Twice (1964), Fleming made what I read as yet another insider passage for which he is famous—this time, to horologists. In defense of the post-World War II greatness of England, James Bond gives only one specific: “…we still climb Everest….” Here again is implication of Ian Fleming’s propensity to keep almost any scrap of information he came across and to use it however he could in his stories. Period Rolex documents connected his Explorer to the climb he had Bond reference. I don’t think that is coincidence.

    In my opinion, there is indeed one specific brand, model, and configuration for James Bond’s first watch—just one. That’s what I’ve written about here.

    It’s hardly a surprise to prove that Ian Fleming first wore the original James Bond watch (and I suspect that Sean Connery would be among those most happy to agree). But the question for this BULLETIN article was not “Where—?” but, rather, “How was it found?”

    That answer required discussions with those who actually knew Ian Fleming, professional examination of his Rolex, physical contact with the author’s own James Bond writings, and a Geiger Counter. Even then, my proposal draft to WatchTime was substantiated by some 168 footnotes before going forward—a field assignment quite worthy of Agent 007 himself.

    This is how I found the original James Bond watch.

    Dell Deaton is the creator-author of 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.

    Guest writer @ 2010-02-22