Heuer 980.031 James Bond watch, "The Living Daylights"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 JamesBondWatches.com 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 JamesBondWatches.com 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

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.

Go to “James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch,” Part I (b)

James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch,” Part I (a)
“James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch,” Part I (b)
“James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch,” Part I (c)
“James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch,” Part I (d)

James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch,” Part II (a)
“James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch,” Part II (b)
“James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch,” Part II (c)
“James Bond wore a TAG Heuer wristwatch,” Part II (d)