Twenty-two years ago, during the filming of GoldenEye (1995), costume designer Lindy Hemming made the decision that secret service agent, Commander of the British Royal Navy and arbiter of taste, James Bond would no longer wear the same Rolex he chose back in the mid-century. “I was convinced that Commander Bond — a naval man and a discreet gentleman of the world — would wear a watch to match,” she said of her decision.
Drawing on her personal experience of naval officers, Hemming decided that the “New Age” Bond would wear an Omega. “My father was an RAF man and I remember his naval colleagues visiting us when I was a child. I vividly recall the Omega he wore,” she says. “On this basis, I fought for the Seamaster to be the timepiece for Pierce Brosnan.”
That persuasion by Hemming forged a celluloid partnership which launched a new era in sophisticated product placement (who can forget the scene on the train in Casino Royale when Vesper Lynd looked at Bond’s watch and asked “Rolex?”, to which he replied, “Omega”) and stretch across a quarter of a century and two incarnations of Bond through Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999), Die Another Day (2002), Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015).
Interestingly, Hemming was correct in linking Omega with the British Royal Navy, if presumptuous in second-guessing Bond’s creator Ian Fleming. It is entirely plausible that Commander James Bond would have been issued with an Omega watch, despite Fleming owning, wearing and equipping his creation with a Rolex. It was indeed the Seamaster 300, originally released in 1957, that was issued to military divers around the world. In 1967, a famous batch of 2nd generation Seamaster 300s was also delivered to the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) for issue to certain units.