With November 9th (Skyfall’s release date) around the corner and gentlemen worldwide engaging in ardent debates (we imagine) over Her Royal Majesty’s choice of timepiece for the British Navy and Special Air Services, we have been hard at work to uncover definitive information on the diver’s watch wars.
The two traditional camps have always been Omega and Rolex. In Ian Fleming’s novels, James Bond is depicted as being a wearer of the Rolex Milsub- this is considered James Bond canon and this tidbit is frequently used by Camp Rolex to support their claim as Bond’s choice; however, after digging around declassified MOD (Ministry of Defence) papers, I uncovered evidence to possibly turn the ship around.
According to MOD document 66-4 Part 1 Issue 2 for Aviation and Divers’ wristwatches, we found tender requirements beginning from 1966 to 68 for the Omega SM300. Yes, you read that right: the Omega was watch of choice for the SAS and for some years, the Royal Marines (including Boat Service), beating Rolex by a good 5 years. (Check out the spec sheet in gallery)
From what we know, Bond is an amalgam of several of Fleming’s contacts during his time in Naval Intelligence; the titular character also inherited the author’s personal tastes and idiosyncrasies. The films however show Connery, Moore and Brosnan iterations of our favourite super spy wearing the uniforms of the Royal Navy rather than Volunteer Reserves (as evidenced by the straight gold cuff rank stripes on the cuff of the dress uniform). Based on each 007’s skillsets, the men were most likely part of the special forces section within the Navy- the SBS otherwise known as Special Boat Services.
That said, Craig’s Bond in Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and now, Skyfall, is given a backstory with the Special Air Services (unlike his quixotic creator) and going by the timelines of the movies starting with Dr. No, in 1962 a real life Bond would more likely be the recipient of an Omega Seamaster 300 given his service in the SAS (or SBS) rather than a Rolex Milsub- to note: The Special Boat Service received caliber 552 while the SAS and other special forces getting the W10 issues.
I guess it is fitting that our ageless and erstwhile SAS Commander would find company in a Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M today given the meritorious history and relationship between the British armed forces and Omega.
At the end of the day, we can be certain of this- directors have often played fast and loose around Bond’s military rank and history- men in uniform look good on camera but no decent covert operative would ever break cover and don a uniform.
For now, we can find some peace knowing that all the physical feats of daring-do and gunplay are best served by a timepiece that carries that Co-Axial caliber 8500 manufacture movement, 60 hours power reserve (an improvement over the 48 hr original) and a Si14 balance spring. We consider the case closed, until the next endorsement deal that is.