WatchTime, "Discovered: James Bond's Rolex" (page 86)The IWM exhibit asks a question often debated by Fleming biographers: How much of James Bond was Ian Fleming? Evidence abounds that Fleming steeped this fictional spy with his most personal tastes and habits. The 007 clothing choices, hatred of tea, and number of cigarettes smoked in a day all parallel aspects of Fleming’s own life.

Product placements abound in his books. Familiar brands hook us to Bond’s world through the reality of what we already know and accept. Bond’s creator was thoughtful in the use of these. Thus there are obvious distinctions between references made to things he had simply researched to fill in gaps, and those he experienced personally.

In total, there are approximately 100 references to James Bond wearing a watch in the Fleming novels and short-story collections published between 1953 and 1966 (the last two were posthumous). Two-thirds of these tell readers nothing more than the time of day. This is particularly true in earlier novels such as Moonraker, Diamonds Are Forever, and Goldfinger, where Agent 007 mostly just looks or glances at his watch, on average nine to 10 times per story.

Function and design details come slowly. We hear Bond’s watch ‘tick’ for the first time in 1955. In 1957, we are told that, although he otherwise sleeps naked, Bond wears a watch to bed. Fleming used the word ‘glass’ when referring to its crystal in From Russia, with Love. For Doctor No a dial is not just ‘luminous,’ but blazingly so! In 1960, 007’s eyes follow ‘the gleaming minute-hand’ creeping past its time markers.

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How I Found the Original James Bond Watch,” Part 1 of 3
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