In its fourth-quarter 2010 issue, Revolution magazine ran the first-ever definitive list of James Bond watches featured in the Eon Productions films as part of its product placement partnership with Seiko UK.
As noted previously on this James Bond Watches Blog, I developed this list after having the door opened to Seiko UK personnel and documentation by Seiko Watch Corporation in Tokyo, Japan. My primary contact was Mark Mills, who was with Seiko UK from 1977 through his retirement last year — and in a position to directly, authoritatively identify all James Bond watch models supplied by Seiko UK, from The Spy Who Loved Me through A View to a Kill.
Stunningly (particularly when you consider all the James Bond fan and watch collector forums that have run discussions of Seiko-Bond watch identification), I was the first person ever to actually approach and work with Seiko UK to finally, authoritatively name these fantastic time pieces.
The Seiko Watches of 007
Albert R ‘Cubby’ Broccoli’s EON Productions not only put James Bond on the silver screen — the producer’s genius for matching high tech to deep cover put Seiko’s most cutting-edge watches on his wrist
by Dell Deaton
Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli may well have created product placement in motion pictures as the producer of the phenomenally successful James Bond series. Broccoli, who, with partner Harry Saltzman, founded EON Productions, and shows name has been synonymous with the cinematic James Bond since 1962’s Dr No, left his mark on the public perception of the film world’s most enduring tough guy more than anyone, except perhaps Ian Fleming himself.
The contract he struck on behalf of EON Productions with Seiko UK Limited was certainly the first officially acknowledged for a wristwatch brand in the 007 films (the appearance of other watches in the Bond movies prior to the Seiko contract were all, officially, unofficial). Eight different models were provided across a total of five consecutive features, from The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977, through A View to a Kill in 1985. For the first time, all those Seiko James Bond watches have been identified — and if you thought Roger Moore simply defaulted to digital timekeeping as the fashion for his tenure, you’ve underestimated James Bond!
These are diverse, exciting watches that made history in their own right. They set standards in technical diving, and came about during the years that saw Seiko introduce the world’s first quartz analogue chronograph. Decisive battles in the quartz revolution were fought during those years, and in many cases, the victories were visible on Bond’s wrist.
Brand name emphasis has always been vital to the success of the James Bond story lines. When Fleming first created his iconic gentleman agent over half a century ago, he strategically name-dropped real products as a diversion intended to help give a pass to improbable characters and capers.
Wristwatches especially served his purposes. The selection of a specific maker, choice of gold case or elaborate complications, an aged leather strap: all were a shorthand to the reader hinting at the character of allies, villains and heroines.
And often in the films, Bond’s watch is a key player as well. A glance at his watch heightens the drama of a race against the clock, with the fate of the world in the balance.
Broccoli more than translated this to the big screen. He saw the value sponsors could deliver to EON in promoting his films. In return, suppliers such as Seiko benefited from an unparalleled market channel that allowed them to explain and persuade, and to offer products that fulfilled the fantasies of captive audiences wanting to live, at least in part, the “James Bond lifestyle.”
Fleming himself was never wedded to any particular watch brand. Thus, Cubby Broccoli had a tabula rosa on which to inscribe Bond’s horological identity.
To provide the most accurate identifications for those watches, I then approached Seiko Watch Corporation in Tokyo, Japan. Those offices directed me to Seiko UK Limited, which provided an unprecedented level of access to both documents and personnel, confirming model and case (caliber) numbers for every James Bond watch it had supplied under this arrangement.