WatchTime, "Discovered: James Bond's Rolex" (page 87)The Ian Fleming thrillers feature multiple James Bond watches. Bond loses his watch during the Casino Royale torture, has another watch shot apart on his wrist in From Russia, with Love, destroys a Rolex while using it as a ‘knuckle-duster’ in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and is unlikely to have returned for whatever timepiece he left behind when Tiger Tanaka gives him a ‘cheap Japanese wristwatch’ for his final pursuit of recurring arch-villain Blofeld in You Only Live Twice.

Fleming, too, had many watches. Photographs from the 1950s show him variously wearing a half-dozen-or-so nondescript wristwatches, mostly on straps. None stands out. This parallels the attitude of his character through the period as well. I don’t suggest that Fleming treated his own watches as disposable (as his alter-ego certainly does). But Fleming heirs told me last summer that his Explorer I is the only wristwatch known to have survived him.

Some Bond aficionados insist that Rolex is established as the definitive ‘James Bond watch’ in Live and Let Die (1954). I don’t think so. When Fleming settled on a brand, he tended to either repeat it or clearly label its replacement. We don’t simply read about locks, we read about Yale locks, again and again, in multiple novels. James Bond drives a Bentley or an Aston Martin or a Thunderbird, a specific car, as opposed to any car we might imagine.

That’s not the case with the 1954 Rolex. After Live and Let Die, almost a decade passed before Fleming gave Bond another Rolex. In the meantime, Fleming hadn’t forgotten the brand, since ‘a solid gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual Chronometer on a flexible gold bracelet’ features prominently as a bad guy’s watch seven novels later, in Thunderball. (This Rolex becomes a ‘James Bond watch” of sorts, since Agent 007 puts it on his own wrist after removing it from the villain’s dead body.)

Go to “Discovered: James Bond’s Rolex” (WatchTime feature article), Part 4 of 9

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How I Found the Original James Bond Watch,” Part 1 of 3
“How I Found the Original James Bond Watch,” Part 2 of 3
“How I Found the Original James Bond Watch,” Part 3 of 3