Which Watch Would James Bond Really Wear?

Which Watch Would James Bond Really Wear?

Picking More Reasonable Timepieces For History's Most Famous Secret Agent

When it comes to Watches of Espionage, James Bond is the elephant in the room. While there is a significant gap between real-world intelligence operations and Hollywood's depiction, Ian Fleming’s character has had an indelible impact on our community’s watch culture. We know several real “spies” who purchased an Omega or Rolex because of the Bond connection. Even before the legendary films, 007 was already closely linked to the world of horology.

Fleming, the legendary author behind Bond, even went so far as to name names, calling out a “Rolex Oyster Perpetual” in his 1954 novel, Live and Let Die while unfortunately failing to identify a specific model. Likely inspired by Fleming’s reference 1016 Explorer, many regard the James Bond of the literary world as an Explorer man as well. However, 1962’s Dr. No, the secret agent’s first foray into film, would forever alter Bond’s history with Rolex, with Sean Connery serving up a full-screen wrist shot of a Submariner reference 6538.

sean connery dr no submariner big crown rolex espionage

Beyond a few abbreviated sojourns into other brands including Breitling, Seiko, and Hamilton, the Bond of film was primarily a Rolex guy until 1995’s GoldenEye where Irish actor Pierce Brosnan famously wore an Omega Seamaster Professional, a seismic shift for watch enthusiasts.

In the Dispatch, we’ve argued for tradition in favor of The Crown in the past with an excellent counter-argument coming from Caleb Daniels in favor of Omega, which remains Bond’s chosen brand. It’s a fun debate, but what watch would a former British SpecOps turned “Secret Agent” really wear?

james bond rolex submariner omega seamaster which watch for bond
Bond’s Rolex Submariner 6538 in Dr. No and the OMEGA Seamaster Professional in GoldenEye are both icons, but what if they’re not the right picks? 

Taking a step back, there’s a good chance a real “secret agent" using their license to kill on MI6’s behalf wouldn’t wear a luxury watch at all. With the most up-to-date Rolex Submariner Date reference 126610 coming in at $10,250 (assuming you can get one) and Omega’s 007 Edition No Time To Die Seamaster priced right at ten grand US, the biggest issue here is probably cost taking into account Bond’s role as a civil servant. Add to that the ostentatious nature of these heavily-branded luxury watches for a guy who would probably prefer a low profile, and some other timepieces just might be better suited to Bond’s profession. In addition, we'd argue our Bond would also favor British watchmaking brands, with more great options than ever before coming from the UK. In this Dispatch, we’ll share our picks for which watch we think our more reasonable 007 would wear.

CWC SBS Diver Issue Price: $750 

CWC sbs diver issue special boat service navy seals watches quartz swiss

Given Bond’s insurmountable Britishness, we would argue it makes sense to look at brands with strong ties to the Empire as well as the Ministry of Defense (MOD). The obvious choice is a brand with a strong following in the W.O.E. community, CWC or Cabot Watch Company, which was founded in 1972 for no reason other than supplying the MOD. For maritime specialist units including the Royal Marines and Special Boat Service, CWC has long supplied the SBS Diver Issue, a PVD-coated descendant of the original Royal Navy Diver’s watch that succeeded the Rolex Military Submariner in 1980. We know several former British SBS members who still have, and wear, their issued SBS, making this a logical watch for Bond.

Robert 'Bob' Hawkins (1961-2023) was a legend in the Mine Warfare Clearance Diving community. Like Bond, Hawkins was a Commander in the Royal Navy and is seen here wearing the CWC SBS Diver Issue
Robert 'Bob' Hawkins (1961-2023) was a legend in the Mine Warfare Clearance Diving community. Like Bond, Hawkins was a Commander in the Royal Navy and is seen here wearing the CWC SBS Diver Issue.

With 300 meters of water resistance, the utility offered by day and date functions, and excellent legibility, the SBS Diver Issue is an excellent option for the modern British secret agent whether he’s doing some Thunderball-style diving combat or simply keeping a lower profile. Fixed lug bars mean Bond is stuck with pull-through straps, but for a secret agent who inspired a namesake nylon strap color scheme, it shouldn’t be a problem. 

Vertex M100A Price: $2,625 

james bond quantum of solace watch vertex field watch cwc

For a more old-school look that also leans into the literary Bond who many argue wore a Rolex Explorer, we have the Vertex M100A. Dating back to 1912, Vertex is another brand closely associated with the Ministry of Defense, having produced watches for the British military as early as the First World War. Of the twelve manufacturers of the legendary “Dirty Dozen” watches produced for the Allied war effort in World War II, Vertex was the only British option, with the modern M100A calling back to that history with its core design while making room for more modern watchmaking standards and specifications. But what does James Bond have to do with a WWII field watch, you may ask?

vertex ma100 dirty dozen field watch
(Photo Credit: WatchGecko)

Thunderball aside, the vast majority of Bond’s adventures both tactical and otherwise have taken place in the dry, and we might argue some of the key elements of a perfect Bond watch would be—even more than water resistance—legibility, durability, and the timeless style so often associated with Bond’s on-screen portrayals. Compared to something like the aforementioned blacked-out CWC, the Vertex would also be a lot easier to wear with a tux. 

Elliot Brown Holton Professional Price: $541

Elliot Brown holton professional special boat service cwc james bond 007 seamaster

Where the CWC SBS celebrates its history of issue to the Special Boat Service in both name and marketing, the Holton Professional from Elliot Brown takes a more subtle approach to its special operations associations. Founded in 2013, the founding principle of Elliot Brown’s collection is durability, with many of the watches finding favor within the British Military. Based in Poole, the elite Special Boat Service approached Elliot Brown in 2015 to help design a watch for the unit to issue. The result was the Holton Professional, a watch that has earned an NSN or Nato Stock Number making it available for official issue to military forces.

elliot brown holton professional

Coming from another British brand, and with a quartz movement, hardened stainless steel bezel, and C3 Super-LumiNova, the Holton also presents a solid option for someone like Bond who is likely to be harder on his watches than most. For deep nerds, Bond has an entirely imagined special operations background, meaning Commander Bond may have either been issued the Holton Professional or purchased a special version as part of a smaller unit-specific order.

Bremont S302 Price $4,200 

james bond daniel craight bremont s302

Currently the subject of some well-deserved controversy regarding a recent rebranding effort, Bremont is still among our top picks for James Bond. Despite its foundations in aviation, Bremont also boasts an impressive array of diving-oriented watches under the Supermarine name. For a more luxurious option compared to some of the other watches we’ve highlighted, we select the S302 for Bond, a watch that combines 300 meters of water resistance with the useful addition of a GMT function.

bremont supermarine s302 khaki strap

Where some of our choices thus far are more utilitarian and even tactical, Bremont manages to straddle the line, feeling just almost as at home with a suit from Savile Row as it does with a wetsuit, no mean feat. The S302’s GMT is particularly appropriate as well. As we discussed in our Dispatch unpacking Zulu Time, having a second timezone at a glance provides tremendous upside for an asset coordinating with a broader multi-agency effort. Besides, Bremont is one of the few companies that has actually made a unit watch for the British Secret Intelligence Service. 

Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 300 Price: $1,095

roger moore james bond christopher ward trident omega seamaster

Long scolded as a microbrand rehashing established designs, Christopher Ward has stepped up massively in recent years and is another brand with a strong following in the W.O.E. community, at an affordable price point. For a government employee like James Bond, the price of the C60 Trident Pro, one of Christopher Ward’s marquee dive watches, is fair. Add to that the watch’s solid water resistance and legible dial format and we have another under-the-radar pick for Bond.

christopher ward trident james bond

Adding an element of legitimacy, Christopher Ward has been quietly collaborating with numerous military units in recent years. Despite solid finishing for the price range, the Trident isn’t ostentatious and doesn’t advertise to prying eyes or invite further scrutiny.

Bamford London GMT Price: $1,500 

bamford london gmt secret agent james bond

Better known for Bamford Watch Department’s watch customizations and collaborations with established watchmakers from the luxury tier, George Bamford also produces a more attainable line of wholly designed watches under the Bamford London moniker. Assuming our modern Bond was a man of more avant-garde styling who rubbed shoulders with Eton graduates, something like the Bamford London GMT could make a lot of sense. 

bamford london gmt james bond secret agent gmt watches

Available in a wide array of dial colors, Bamford’s GMT is housed within a reasonable 40mm case complete with an internal rotating GMT bezel that obviates the risk of accidentally changing the secondary timezone on display. For the $1,500 asking price, Bond also gets an excellent bracelet, 100 meters of water resistance, as well as a sub-12mm case height that should work as well with a tuxedo as it would with a woolen commando sweater. 

Arken Alterum Price: $750 

Arkem Alterum microbrand watch james bond pvd dlc gmt navy seal watches

A true microbrand at this stage, Arken presents a wild card choice for Bond. Housed within a scratch-resistant titanium case, the Alterum, the second watch from the brand, fuses GMT functionality with 200 meters of water resistance and a design format that is a lot further afield than many of our previous choices. Admittedly, the Alterum dial serves up a lot of information including the second time zone, managed by a GMT hand, as well as a date sub-register and an intriguing day/night indicator executed with a pair of apertures on the dial’s lower half. Despite the additional complexity, the overall effect is clean, subtle, and the kind of thing Bond could easily wear in virtually any environment without anyone asking too many questions. 

Final Thoughts

For the diehard Rolex and Omega James Bond fanboys, the picks in this Dispatch may be blasphemous. We invite you to submit your counterarguments in the comments. In any counterpoints, it's important to remember that for intelligence professionals like Bond, watches are, first and foremost, a tool. While there is a significant watch luxury watch culture in espionage, it’s not so hard to imagine a real-life James Bond might benefit from a watch that won’t get him mugged by some scooter-riding London street toughs. As for Bond's strap of choice, we'd argue 007 would do his best work with a Five Eye (FVEY).


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Rolex Explorer: subtle, versatile, rugged, and 100% fitting with the Bond legacy given Fleming himself wore one (or at least: something very similar).

I feel the need for speed

Great job with Arken for a British brand, I love mine. The thought of not including more GMT watches is surprising considering it is a must have for true mil folks operating on local and Zulu time.

Italian, but I think the Unimatic Carbon/Ti GMT is one of the best new “tactical” watches out currently. Incredibly light with all of the right features (U1S-C-GMT-H), it has been stellar on the wrist.

I couldn’t’ help but get the Omega NTTD 300M after swearing I’d never get a “movie” watch. It has one of the most comfortable bracelet’s out there IMO and the grey Ti keeps things classy, but understated and incredible lightweight


Ministry of Defence, mot Defense.

And Smiths > Bremont.


Having read all of Fleming’s Bond novels, and watched all the movies I sometimes find it hard to keep the different versions of Bond separated. As Robert pointed out, whether Bond purchased a watch on his own or it was issued to him it would not have any MOD or other government markings. I also believe Bill is correct in that Bond would most likely check out certain items from the wardrobe dept. if he were attending an event and needed to blend in and/or it was more in character with any persona he was adopting for that event.


Tudor FXD with a black band.

Bond is not a fanboy or a poseur and he’s not interested in imitations or “tributes.” The Tudor FXD looks like a no-bullshit dive watch with the durability that that imples, but a good-looking one, and because it’s made by a quality company, one assumes it will last a lifetime. I’ve had a Rolex Submariner for almost 40 years and will never trade it in (my only other watch is a backup G-shock for dodgy environments and Rolex repair times). If I were 40 years younger though and were shopping I’d get the FXD.

Felix Leiter

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