Gruen was the first James Bond watch to appear in any 007 movie

It’s believed that the same Gruen Precision model featured as the James Bond watch in Dr No was also the only wristwatch worn by Agent 007 in You Only Live Twice

Before finally signing-off on this watch identification as “definitive,” one question remains.

If Bond’s watch “needed to be a Rolex,” wouldn’t that apply to all of his watches? It’s a quote that’s been repeated ad nauseam.

If that’s what you take from James Bond: The Legacy, then I must respectfully defer to John Cork and Bruce Scivally for response. What I can say based on my own discussion of this with Ron Quelch is that I did not get that impression. I might rather have said that the Dr. No diver’s watch “happened to be a Rolex.”

Because that’s what Cubby Broccoli happened to have been wearing when he took the watch off his own wrist to settle a tangential argument in 1961 about what James Bond should wear as an “action prop” in Dr. No. It struck me more like the take-charge act of a responsible businessman interceding to get on with it, as opposed to anything like the obsessive brand-chasing so often argued for on select pockets of the Internet.

Whatever the diver’s watch is, “happened to be” or “needed to be,” the dress watch is this Gruen Precision with subsidiary seconds dial.

And what about the picture on page 36 of James Bond: The Legacy that shows James Bond checking his watch while embracing Sylvia Trench? Its caption includes the words, “accentuated by his Rolex watch.” John Cork tells me that the book authors didn’t have input on selecting that photograph. So, nothing there. Besides, that photo isn’t even from the movie.

In 1962, this Gruen Precision 510 was a well-functioning, respected, and nice-appearing wristwatch, in fact and in image presented. All things considered. It’s what gentlemen wore in 1962. If anything, the rightness-of-fit here is undergirded by just how inappropriate it would have been to have had James Bond wear a serious diver’s tool watch as accessory to tuxedo in 1962.

Still, I can imagine that these facts might take a bit of adjustment for contemporary Bond movie fans who’ve only recently taken to the study of 007 horology. If you’ve known nothing but Omega as the James Bond’s watchmaker, embracing an MSRP of $5,500 for the current Skyfall Seamaster Aqua Terra model, it must feel wrong to question “the way things are.”

Has’t it always been this way?

No. Not at all. In fact, we see the same production company that made the Dr. No Gruen decision go on to make a consistent James Bond watch choice twenty-some years later when appointing Roger Moore with a two-tone analog Seiko Quartz model in support of his cover as James St. John Smythe in the 1985 movie A View to a Kill. This guise being that of a very wealthy would-be horse buyer, conveyed via Rolls Royce to meet with bad-guy Max Zorin.

This bookending last-appearance for Seiko tempts me to make the point that Gruen is anything but unprecedented as a James Bond watchmaker. Indeed, historical chronology actually shows Gruen as the watch that set precedent for balance among a number of 007 timekeepers that followed in subsequent movies for two decades.

Earlier this month, I put one final question to Ron Quelch. Although he didn’t handle the Dr. No dress watch, he certainly participated in production meetings and saw the various departments weigh-in on the view of who and what the first movie-Bond should be, how Agent 007 should be presented. “At the time, did the fact that wardrobe handled the dress watch make its decision at least as important as the prop watch? If so, how ‘particular’ would you say they were about this James Bond watch choice?”

His immediate reply: “Yes.

Very particular,” Ron Quelch said to me with pronounced emphasis.

That’s exactly what I’ve found here as well.