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The Spy Who Loved Watches (Ep.2): The Era of Omega & the Seamaster 300M

Anna Wu-Chauvineau
Le 17 September 2017

Remember a few weeks ago, I praised James and his Rolex Submariner 5513 with great passion. She appeared on the wrist of the English spy played by George Lazenby from 1968 in the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Let’s close the “Rolex parenthesis,” even if there is still much to say, and focus now on the Omega era.

Let’s start with a logical choice, the Seamaster 300M that appears in GoldenEye in 1995 on the wrist of Pierce Brosnan. A piece that will stay a good while at his service. Between the USSR, satellites of mass destruction, outrageously charming women, an Aston DB5 and a Ferrari F355, the Seamaster has been extremely busy.

My name is Brosnan, Pierce Brosnan

Timothy Dalton had preceded him in 1989 by playing the role of the vengeful spy in License to Kill. Pierce takes over in 1995 in GoldenEye.

Should I refresh your memory and put you back in the mood? Remember at the end of the 1980s in the USSR, Bond has to join 006, who was later shot down by a Russian colonel in a chemical weapons factory. Does any of this ring a bell? And the race between Xenia Onatopp’s red F355 Ferrari and James’ Aston in the mountainous roads above Monaco? One cannot remain indifferent to the delightful charms of this young woman, who has a somewhat “thrilling” vision of passion.

James Bond's Watches - Pierce Brosnan

Bond sports an Omega for the first time on the screen. A Seamaster 300M with a quartz movement, that’s also worn by his “false” spy friend 006. The piece is shown with nifty powers in the film. It can project a thin laser beam and skillfully cut thick metal, or trigger explosives to kill Soviet Communist villains wanting to destroy the world.

One can also spot it in Tomorrow Never Dies released in 1997. It’s almost like the automatic model that equips 007 today. Remember, the story takes place in China, and Bond must investigate the torpedo launched by the Devonshire Chinese army, frigate of the Royal Navy. Everything is actually orchestrated by the press magnate Elliot Carver. A tall, thin man, almost bald, with fine, piercing eyes hiding behind fine-framed glasses. Much like the villain and cat duo in the movies.

The piece is still alongside Pierce in The World is not Enough with a very sensual, but rather dominating, Sophie Marceau. He must take care of Elektra King at the borders of Azerbaijan after the assassination of his father and face Renard. The character, played by Robert Carlyle, lives with a bullet in his head that’s progressing each day. There is a more serious issue at hand. It’s the same automatic model being worn, this time equipped with a torch and a miniature grapple by Q. What? You don’t think it’s possible?

Omega Seamaster 300M

This model will appear one last time in Die Another Day in 2002. With one of my favorite sentences Q says to Bond while he takes a Seamaster out of his suit pocket.

Q: Now a new watch. This would be your twentieth I believe.
James: How time flies.
Q: Why do not you make a record by actually returning this one?

A fairly solid dialogue.

Unfortunately, after Casino Royale‘s rights were purchased by MGM and the franchise of the Broccoli family (Albert Broccoli only made the first 16 Bond films), a clean slate was demanded…and a clean slate it was.

James Bond's Watches - Daniel Craig

Goodbye Pierce. Welcome Daniel Craig. Even if with these significant changes, the beginning of the filming of Casino Royale was difficult, Craig was more than accepted in the end, and the film a true success. Two watches then are seen on Bond’s wrist. A Planet Ocean, and again, as usual, a Seamaster. And then there was the wonderful exchange of words on the train between James and Vesper:

Vesper: You know, former SAS types, with easy smile and expensive watches. Rolex?
James: Omega.
Vesper: Beautiful.

Enough said.

The Omega Seamaster Saga

Which pieces are we talking about exactly? The first reference with the blue waves dial introduced to the Omega collection in 1993, and the debut of a Seamaster Professional 300M equipped with a screw-in helium decompression valve at 10 o’clock.

Omega Seamaster 300M

Among these watches a certain reference 2541.80, quartz, stands out. Used by GoldenEye directors in 1995. A true dive watch, officially stamped as resistant to 300 meters of depth with a decompression valve, unidirectional rotating bezel and steel bracelet.

The main difference came in 1997 with the filming of Tomorrow Never Dies and the introduction of an automatic Seamaster 300M to James’s fine wrist. This new piece is similar to its quartz sister, with the same opening at 41mm, released in 1993 and equipped with the automatic caliber 1120, COSC certified. It is living proof of a mechanical movement comeback after the terrible quartz crisis. It would also be used in The World Is Not Enough in 1999 and in Die Another Day in 2002.

It is only at the release of Casino Royale in 2006 that the Seamaster is somewhat revamped. Circled markers, the word ‘Seamaster’ in red and below the Omega logo. Most importantly, the movement is now stamped and patented ‘Co-Axial.’

An Omega watch that has experienced multiple variations, possesses that extra soul others do not have, for having dressed James’s wrist in complex situations, to chase great villains, in exquisite cars, and in the bed of sultry magnificent women.