"Ian Fleming's Own James Bond Watch" display ends July 21, 2012, at the National Watch & Clock Museum

"Ian Fleming's Own James Bond Watch" display ends July 21, 2012, at the National Watch & Clock Museum, Columbia, PA

“Ian Fleming’s James Bond Watch” display closes Saturday, July 21, 2012.

By special arrangement with family members and the Ian Fleming estate, I was able to bring the only confirmed Rolex watch owned and worn by the creator of James Bond here to the United States for public exhibition.

Collectors and serious researchers will recall that Mr Fleming’s references to “Rolex” for 007 in his original writing had been subject of speculation for decades.

Was there a real watch upon which descriptions were made? What sort of dial was Ian Fleming describing when he put James Bond’s eyes on its luminescent numerals? Did “expanding metal bracelet” mean spring-loaded?

False starts insisted it “could be” a Submariner. But that’s a path you’d only have gone down if you’ve never actually read On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In that novel, James Bond wears his personal Rolex wristwatch under cover as “Sir Hilary Bray” — a disguise that would’a made wearing such an obvious diver’s watch an advertisement that Sir Hilary was actually a poorly prepared MI6 operative on a mission to take out Blofeld.

Ian Fleming didn’t write with such carelessness.

Then in 2007 the need for guesswork ended: Ian Fleming’s stepdaughter came forward with what had been Ian Fleming’s one and only Rolex, which I identified as a reference 1016 Explorer with radium dial, produced during the fourth quarter of 1960. Having been involved with the discovery prior to its first public display, at the Imperial War Museum, I had photos that allowed me to secure Ian Fleming Centenary Postmarks on May 28, 2008.

Subsequently, the research chronology was covered by leading watch industry publications, including WatchTime, Chronos, and the Journal of the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors.

Significant as that was (and continues to be), I wanted to do something more for serious collectors, James Bond fans, and the general public. I wanted to make it possible for people here in the United States to see that first, original James Bond watch.

So— even before the first reports were made on what WatchTime dubbed this “Mystery Solved!” I had started work with the National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania, on what would debut in June of 2010 as a first-ever display of all known James Bond watch brands. “Bond Watches, James Bond Watches” was the name of that exhibit, and it ran through the end of April 2011.

Ian Fleming’s Rolex 1016 Explorer was its centerpiece attraction.

Success led to the current display, “Ian Fleming’s Own James Bond Watch,” now on the main floor of the National Watch & Clock Museum. That opened literally just days after “Bond Watches” closed, May of 2011. In addition to Ian Fleming’s James Bond Rolex watch, important pieces from Omega and Seiko are being shown as well. Last summer, the actual Breitling for Bentley watch worn by Jeffery Deaver as James Bond’s watch for the Africa sequences in Carte Blanche also appeared briefly alongside the Mr Fleming’s Rolex Explorer.

But this James Bond watch exhibit really does come to an end on July 21, 2012. This’ll be your last chance to see it, and it’s something no serious James Bond watch aficionado is gonna want to miss!