James Bond: 60 years of movies for our eyes only
In 1962, the legendary agent 007 made his debut on big screens. Six decades that are now celebrated by the EON production company, which manages the Bond franchise alongside MGM, and by the Swiss watch brand Omega, the brand of the most secret of fictional heroes for 27 years.
By Cristina D’Agostino15 décembre 2022
In 1952, when Ian Fleming imagined his hero facing the Caribbean Sea, he reinvented his eternal alter ego. James Bond was the mythical extension of his own counter-espionage missions in the service of Her Majesty, within the British naval intelligence service, during the Second World War. In 1939, contacted by John Godfrey, Director of Intelligence of the Royal Navy, Ian Fleming was to work as a secret agent under the code name "17F".
When Ian Fleming, the ex-secret agent "17F" imagined the legendary Bond 007
In Jamaica, with his feet in the water, from his GoldenEye villa - named in memory of his secret mission in Spain to detect a possible alliance between General Franco and the Third Reich, and which was also to be the name of one of the James Bond sagas - he brought to life the most seductive and secretive of all fictional heroes. However, Ian Fleming was not an unremarkable novelist. As a journalist in Moscow (1929-1933), a banker and stockbroker (1935-1939), an officer in the British naval intelligence service between 1939 and 1945, and then as a foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times until 1959, he succeeded in creating excitement worldwide. Even the American president John Fitzgerald Kennedy admitted in 1961 that he had a soft spot for the man who bore the highly emblematic title for the time: From Russia, with Love, published in 1957. The two men met once, at the White House. It is said that JFK asked Fleming about solutions he may have had in mind to resolve the Cuban crisis...
So, Ian Fleming imagined a hero who overcame the worst situations in a three-piece suit, with a watch on his wrist. And 007 has known many different timepieces. Between 1962 and 2021, 27 watches marked the 27 successive sagas, from James Bond versus Dr. No (1962) to No Time to Die (2021). From Rolex at the beginning, through the American brand Gruen, then Breitling, Hamilton, Seiko, Heurer and finally Omega since 1995, Mister Bond's watches all played an important role in the survival of the mythical spy. Sometimes quartz, sometimes digital, but most often armed for deep dives, the timepieces have always served memorable James Bond scenes. Or rather James Bond, since in 60 years, six actors (Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig) have worn Agent 007’s tuxedo.
Omega, 27 years of history on James Bond's wrist
The idea of having Agent 007 wear an Omega watch came from Lindy Hemming, the Oscar-winning costume designer who worked on five Bond films between GoldenEye (1995) and Casino Royale (2006). Speaking about her choice of the Seamaster model, she said, "I was convinced that Commander Bond, a member of the Navy, a diver and a discreet gentleman of this world, should wear this watch. The idea stems from the watch brand's own history and its ties to the British military during World War II. Indeed, Omega had close ties with the British Ministry of Defense, as it supplied more than 110,000 watches to pilots, navigators and soldiers in the United Kingdom between 1939 and 1945. In addition, the Seamaster 300 model worn by James Bond was the one delivered to military divers around the world as early as 1957, continuing Omega's strong link to elite units.
Over the course of 27 films, two of which were not produced by EON, the imagination of the film crew working on the movies was boundless when it came to equipping 007 with the craziest accessories to get him out of trouble.
In 1995, GoldenEye, the first film to seal Omega's partnership with the James Bond saga, had 007 use a laser built into his Seamaster to cut a trap door in the floor of his enemy Alec Trevelyan's train, played by Sean Bean. In Tomorrow Never Dies, the slightly modified Seamaster 300 M uses a built-in helium valve to activate a remote detonator connected to a bomb to blow a hole in the ship. In The World Is Not Enough, the Seamaster 300M saves him from an avalanche. Then in Casino Royale, James Bond also wears the Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M model, which he will also wear in Quantum Of Solace (2008) with a co-axial chronometer. In Spectre, after wearing the Seamaster Aqua Terra, Bond receives from Q his Seamaster 300 as compensation for the loss of his Aston Martin DB10. The watch proves to be a valuable asset when, handcuffed to a chair, Agent 007 manages to prime the watch's explosive charge and pass it to his teammate, who detonates it in their enemy's face. And in the latest installment, Q modifies James Bond's Seamaster Diver 300M and equips it with a limited-range electromagnetic pulse device designed to disable electronic devices. Agent 007 uses it to break into Safin's base and then get rid of Primo, targeting the henchman's bionic eye.
A worldwide cultural phenomenon, born in 1952 in the midst of the space conquest and the dangerous tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States, James Bond dies in 2021, at the very moment when the Cold War is reborn. Judi Dench's line in Goldeneye might even find some freshness: "Mr. Bond, I think you're a sexist, misogynistic dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War." Not to mention the burning topicality of Good Kisses from Russia...
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