WatchTime, "Discovered: James Bond's Rolex" (page 88)Secondly, the Live and Let Die Rolex is a divers’ watch; hardly what men wore daily in the 1950s.We know how Bond’s watch had to perform here, because he ‘looked at the Rolex on his wrist’ while underwater.

He was at the close of a 300-yard dive in Jamaican waters, on a well-prepared mission to place mines on a smuggling vessel, moored at an anchorage of about 30 feet. His agency quartermaster, Q Branch, has supplied him with a wetsuit and other special-purpose equipment for the assignment. It’s likely that Q had provided this particular watch as well, and that Bond did not choose the Live and Let Die Rolex for himself. (Years later, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, we learn that Q Branch actually keeps an off-the-shelf inventory of Rolex wristwatches, or at least came to do so by 1963.)

For Live and Let Die, I think the plot simply called for 007 to check his watch in mid-swim in order to build tension at a key point in the exposition. As a diver himself, Fleming knew that a typical wristwatch was unsuitable; he needed to cite a specific brand to make that awareness clear. Being an accomplished journalist, he would have researched options.

Finally, the lack of any further specifics on this Rolex, and no reference whatsoever to the brand in his next eight books, classify it as a watch Fleming researched rather than experienced. Most likely, he chose Rolex because of its advertising, which emphasized waterproof case integrity.

Image:

Rolex: James Bond’s Secret Weapon

Illustrator John McLusky was the first to provide a visual interpretation of what he thought Ian Fleming had intended for the 007 Rolex in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. McLusky helped create a ‘James Bond’ comic strip, adapted from Ian Fleming’s novels and short stories, for Britain’s Daily Express from 1958 to 1966. The Bond Rolex appears in installment 144 of the series in 1964. Unfortunately, these drawings came after Fleming’s death, so McLusky did not have the author’s input regarding wristwatch specifics.

Still, it’s interesting that McLusky depicted the watch with luminescent numbers at 6, 9, and 12, along with a signature Rolex date magnifier. The next day’s comic strip shows Bond dispatching one of the henchmen working for his archenemy Blofeld, first with a chop to the neck. Then, we read: ‘Bond using the wrist watch as a knuckle-duster, gave him the coup de grace.’

The watch is referred to by brand name as ‘the shattered Rolex’ in installment 169 three weeks later, where Bond once again prepares to use it as a ‘knuckle-duster.’

Go to “Discovered: James Bond’s Rolex” (WatchTime feature article), Part 5 of 9

Discovered: James Bond’s Rolex,” Part 1 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