Bonding With Time – The Wristwatches of James Bond 2.1

Part 2 – The Other Watches of Bond Including Allies and

A Breitling 806 Navitimer and Rolex 6238 Pre-Daytona Chronograph
A Breitling 806 Navitimer and Rolex 6238 Pre-Daytona Chronograph
In part 2 (Just incase you missed part 1 of Bonding With Time, which covers The Rolex Submariner you can find it here) we will discuss the other watches that James Bond, his allies and villains have used throughout the films up toand including The Man With The Golden Gun. Thereafter, Bond began sporting Seiko LCD watches until Timothy Dalton returned as Bond wearing the classic Rolex Submariner.

It should be noted that this is not intended to be an exhaustive list of every watch worn by Bond in every scene, but rather a list of watches that the filmmakers intended that Bond wear and that the audience be aware of.  Likewise, this is not intended to be an exhaustive list of every watch that every villain or ally major or minor has worn, but rather a listing of the more interesting watches that can’t help but be noticed on the wrists of Bond’s allies and villains. 

Red Grant’s Fascinating Watches

To me, Red Grant is one of the most fascinating Bond villains of all time and the watches associated with him are equally fascinating.  In the movie From Russia With Love Donald Grant, AKA Donovan Grant, Red Grant or Krassno Granitski as he’s variously referred to in the novel From Russia With Love is seen wearing a keen bit of kit in the form of a time telling device that masked its truly deadly purpose.  It was a watch containing a garrote on a brown colored strap.  It’s one of those pieces that have always fascinated me.  The watch as seen in the movie had a very thick silver colored case, probably because it housed a mechanical movement along with a wire reel used to simulate a garrote.  Remember, this movie was made before the quartz watch almost killed mechanical watches.  It also had straight or wire lugs, Arabic numerals on a white or cream colored dial, and what looks to me like a pigskin strap that is the same width from lug to buckle (in other words, no taper in the strap).

Recently, a fellow Bond collector and top notch prop and model builder by the name of George Vasquez presented me with some compelling evidence in the form of an extreme close-up that suggests that Grant’s watch, as it appeared in the movie, had a sub-dial at the 6 o’clock position.  That close-up photograph shows a smudge near the 6 o’clock position but much higher than where the 6 would be.  Also, the photograph shows no “6″where it should be.  So, unlike the Grant watch pictured in the book James Bond The Secret World Of 007 (ISBN 0-7894-6691-0), it appears the real prop had a sub-seconds sweep hand rather than a regular full dial sweep hand.  Incidentally, the watch pictured (artist’s rendering) appears somewhat thinner than the movie prop.  Likewise the movie watch has a ring for the garrote rather than a crown within a crown as pictured.

I have seen various one off replicas of this watch over the years, but none have come close to the original.  Most of the replicas are made with the wrong style case.  The case needs to have strait or wire lugs similar to a World War I era Officer’s trench watch or perhaps a World War II era field watch. Another area where the replicas go wrong is in using a quartz movement.  The quartz movement did not exist in 1963, at least not to any great degree, so a true replica would need a mechanical movement.  Lastly, most of the replicas are too thin.  The watch in From Russia With Love had an exceedingly thick case.  It would have to if it were to house a mechanical movement and a wire reel.

From a horological perspective however, the watch Grant wears in the novel is far more interesting.  Chapter 1 (Roseland) paragraph 3 of From Russia With Love says the following with respect to Grant’s personal effects as they lie in a pile next to his naked body while awaiting a massage:

“To judge by the glittering pile, this had been or was a rich man.  It contained the typical membership badges of the rich man’s club-a money clip, made of a Mexican fifty-dollar piece and holding a substantial wad of banknotes, a well used gold Dunhill lighter, an oval gold cigarette case with the wavy ridges and discreet turquoise button that means Faberge, and the sort of novel a rich man pulls out of the bookcase to take into the garden-The Little Nugget-an old P.G. Wodehouse.  There was also a bulky gold wrist-watch on a well used brown crocodile strap.  It was a Girard-Perregaux model designed for people who like gadgets, and it had a sweep second-hand and two little windows in the face to tell the day of the month, and the month, and the phase of the moon.  The story it now told was 2:30 on June 10th with the moon three-quarters full.”

Girard Perregaux 1966 Full Calendar Watch
Girard Perregaux 1966 Full Calendar Watch

The Girard-Perregaux that was in Grant’s tidy pile of membership badges to the rich man’s club is what is known in horological parlance as a calendar watch, or more precisely, a triple-date moonphase watch.  Such watches are fascinating to watch collectors because they have what are called complications that are added to the ordinary time telling function of the watch.  In this instance the complications enable the watch to tell the wearer the day of the month, the date, the month and the phase of the moon.  Watches with complications are more “complicated” to make and serve to exhibit the skill of the watchmaker beyond just mere time-telling.  I was almost positive that Fleming chose the name Girard-Perregaux because it was one of those “double barreled” words that he loved so much rather than because this particular Girard-Perregaux model truly existed or because Girard-Perregaux was one of the oldest swiss watch manufacturers with a long tradition of innovation and excellence.

I’ve looked for one of these watches for years to no avail.  Oh there were plenty of triple date moon phase watches that were available during Fleming’s time that could be bought, but none made by Girard-Perregaux.  It seemed more and more that this particular model did not exist, and that Fleming had appropriated the name creating a fictitious watch based upon details of real watches made by other brands.  Then I got lucky while searching EBay.  There it was a vintage Girard-Perregaux triple date moon phase watch.  Maybe Fleming had described a real Girard-Perregaux after all.  Although it was cool and looked suitably old, I’d never seen one of these before and something told me it was not quite right.  So I watched it, and it never sold.  It was re-listed, and then hastily removed from auction.   Then I stumbled across an article in the October 2007 issue of HR WATCHES Magazine entitled “Girard-Perregaux Lasting Value A Fully Functional Full Calendar”.  The article talked about a new calendar watch in its stable, one of which never existed before in the Girard-Perregaux line up, a triple date moon phase.  Here is anexcerpt:


“The Girard-Perregaux 1966 full calendarwith its once futuristic complication that displays the date, day of the week, month and phases of the moon might seem like something straight out of a James Bond novel.  That would be because, in a way, it is.  A watch with alarmingly similar specifications was described to a “T” by author Ian Fleming when he introduced the swashbuckling secret agent in ‘Casino Royale’.   It bears a striking resemblance to the watch originally described in the James Bond book by Ian Fleming where they talk about a Girard-Perregaux watch that has those functions”, said Ron Jackson, President of Girard-Perregaux in the United States.  There was no other watch that fit that description.  Ian described a watch that didn’t exist, but it does now.”

Casino Royale?  Not quite, but the article proved that Girard-Perregaux here-to-fore never made such a watch.  So the one on EBay was a fake.  As I’ve said before, if you intend to collect something, educate yourself about what is and is not correct.  That self education requires reading everything you can get your hands on about the items you intend to collect, and it’s a never ending process.  As for the comment about Casino Royale, it’s like I said in my last article, watch experts are not experts on Bond so be careful.  It should be noted too, that the Complete Price Guide To Watches (ISBN: 1-57432-592-2) shows a vintage 18kt Girard-Perregaux triple date moon phase chronograph most recently in the 2008 edition on page 766.  The problem is that the watch Fleming described did not have a triple register chronograph function.

Nevertheless, the fact that Girard-Perregaux now makes the watch that Ian Fleming first described in a book written in 1956 and published in 1957 is exciting news indeed.  It’s a case of life imitating art.  However, I’m afraid you’ll need somewhat of a rich man’s pile in order to afford the watch in Red Grant’s pile.  The Girard-Perregaux 1966 Full Calendar watch only available in rose gold retails for $14,250.00.  That’s what I’d call a high end Bond collectible, but it’s nice to know that if you just had to have it, you could.

Pussy Galore and the Rolex GMT Master – Reference 6542

Rolex 6542 GMT Master Watch
Rolex 6542 GMT Master Watch

In the movie Goldfinger, Pussy Galore is seen wearing a Rolex GMT Master reference 6542 while piloting Goldfinger’s Lockheed Jetstar.  This is the early version of the GMT master without crown guards like the Connery Bond Submariner and it appears to have the black and red bezel rather than the blue and red so called “Pepsi” bezel.  It’s fitting that Miss Galore should wear a GMT Master because she is a pilot and this particular model has a long association with aerospace despite the fact that the Omega Speedmaster is touted as the moon watch and the watch of space.

According to Chapter 14 of the The Best Of Time Rolex Wristwatches An Unauthorized History, the GMT Master was created by Rolex at the request of Pan Am.  The newly designed Boeing 707, the first triumphant intercontinental jet passenger liner, was enlisted by Pan Am for various trans-Atlantic journeys.  However, because of this new faster jet airline, the journey times were cut in half creating a new phenomenon known as jet  lag.  Pan Am was concerned about the effects of jet lag on their pilots enough to commission research into this new phenomenon.  It was determined that pilots should be kept on home time while being simultaneously aware of the time at their various destinations.   A meeting of the minds between Pan Am and Rolex led to the creation of the G.M.T. Master model reference number 6542 first issued in 1954.

The GMT Master was named in honor of Greenwich Mean Time, the world’s standard time and the time at the Greenwich meridian.  It was powered at first by movement caliber 1035, followed by the 1065 and later the 1066.  It had four hands; hour, minute, seconds and a fourth hand that told the time in a different time zone.  This fourth hand was used in conjunction with a 24 hour rotatable bezel and enabled the wearer to keep track of the time in two different time zones simultaneously.

Chuck Yeager, a decorated combat pilot and the man who broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 wearing a Rolex Oyster, was known to wear aRolex GMT Master and so were most of the NASA astronauts.  Here is an excerpt from chapter 14 paragraph 6 of The Best Of Time Rolex Wristwatches An Unauthorized History, concerning the NASA astronauts:


“Almost all of the astronauts owned their own GMT-Masters, which had become the standard aviator’s timepiece, and continued to wear them at all times including during space flights.  Those from the NASA group who had flown the “X” planes would have been issued GMT-Masters. The Speedmasters were relegated to occasions when they had to be worn, such as during space walks when the special extended bracelet allowed them to be worn outside the space suits.”

The GMT Master was also on the wrist of Astronaut Jack Swigert during the infamous Apollo 13 mission that although not successful in terms of landing men on the moon, was successful in exhibiting coolness in the face of extreme danger.  It was a bright shining moment for NASA and proof that real pilots with “the right stuff” were the men needed to take the world into space.  Those pilots, rugged individualists in their own right, almost unanimously chose the Rolex GMT Master as their personal timepiece.

Pussy Galore’s use of the Rolex GMT Master model reference 6542 served to exhibit the fact that she was a consummate professional in her chosen field as an aviator.  The fact that she was wearing a man’s watch may have also been a device used to bolster the fact that she was a lesbian, a point that was directly talked about in the novel, but that could only be hinted at on screen.

As stated earlier, Miss Galore’s GMT Master 6542 is devoid of crown guards like the earliest incarnation of the Submariner and also appears to have the black and red bezel.  The 6542 GMT Master can be found with 3 bezel configurations.  The first and earliest configuration had a transparent acrylic bezel that had 24 hour markings printed on the underside.  This bezel insert was then mated to an acrylic bezel ring that was coated in an alloy to resemble metal.  Due to fractures and cracking of the acrylic bezel insert, Rolex subsequently replaced it with a metal insert that sat in the same alloy coated acrylic bezel.  Before the end of the 6542 model run, Rolex also replaced the bezel with an all metal version resulting in a metal bezel insert sitting in a metal bezel.

My first expensive watch was a Rolex GMT Master II model reference 16710 with red and black bezel purchased new in the 1990’s. At that time, although I wanted a new Submariner like Bond would have, I reasoned that nothing would really do except the exact model reference Submariner that Connery wore as Bond.  So, I elected to purchase the Rolex tool watch that was more suited to my needs, the GMT Master II reference 16710.  The fact that it could be considered the spiritual heir to the watch used by the men with the “Right Stuff” and was also the modern model reference worn by Chuck Yeager in the late 80’s and early 90’s” only added to its appeal.

I used the 16710 extensively while an Officer in the United States Merchant Marine.  The watch accompanied me on my voyages around the world including carrying Army unit equipment cargo to Saudi Arabia during Desert Shield/Desert Storm as well as to Mogadishu, Somalia during Operation Restore Hope/Continue Hope both before and after the “Black Hawk Down” incident.  Although now relegated to my watch box for the most part, the 16710 occasionally sees wrist time as a nod to those daring men who push the outside of the envelope, as a remembrance of my time traveling the world in pursuit of action and adventure, and of Bond’s conquest of Pussy Galore under that cool red and white parachute.  Nevertheless, as nice as the 16710 is, it is merely a place holder for the one that started it all, the 6542.

Casino Royale and the Rolex GMT 1675

 In the 1967 spoof, Casino Royale, Evlyn Tremble (Peter Sellers),  the baccarat master who goes undercover as James Bond, is presented a “1965 Rolex Submariner with date indicator”.  However, the actual watch shown is a Rolex GMT Master model reference 1675.  This is evident because of the red and blue so called “Pepsi” bezel and crown guard.  The real watch face is not seen because it is shown to function as two way wrist T.V. transceiver.  I’ve placed this watch here out of movie order because it was the next evolution of the preceding GMT 6542.

Interestingly enough, this same watch was also worn by the well known television spies Kelly Robinson and Alexander Scott (Robert Culp and Bill Cosby) in the I Spy series.  The 1675 was initially powered by the 1565 movement and later by the 1575 movement.  The 1675 was replaced by the 16750 in the early 1980’s and had a totally new caliber, the 3075.  Incidentally, Thomas Magnum of Magnum P.I. fame also wore a 1675 that he inherited from his father, a Naval Aviator.

Thunderball’s Breitling 806 Navitimer

Breitling 806 Navitimer Watch
Breitling 806 Navitimer Watch

In Thunderball Commandant Derval is fitted out with an identification disc and a cool looking watch, a Breitling Navitimer.  That Breitling Navitimer had the model reference number 806 and has always held a special fascination for me because I suppose it just looked so damn cool.  The 806 Navitimer along with the I.D. disc was used as an identifier by S.P.C.T.R.E. for their agent Mr. Angelo who with the aid of plastic surgery and voice lessons assumed the identity of Derval after the real Derval is given a lethal dose of gamma gas.  With Mr. Angelo in place as Derval, S.P.E.C.T.R.E. could advance its evil plan to steal a nuclear bomb and extort 280 million pounds worth of blue/white diamonds from
the world via NATO.

Interestingly enough, Derval’s character in the novel is named Giuseppe Petacchi and is “bent” or turned rather than assassinated and doubled by SPECTRE because of his weakness or” passion for owning things-flashy, exciting, expensive things”.  One of those things that he owns is a gold Rolex that he consults regularly during his flight to deliver the nuclear bombs to SPECTRE.  Chapter 9, Multiple Requiem of Thunderball says the following with respect to Petacchi’s desires and specifically mentions his gold Rolex:

“He had most of what he desired-a couple of gold cigarette cases, a solid gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual Chronometer on a flexible gold bracelet, a white convertible Lancia Gran Turismo, plenty of sharp clothes, and all the girls he wanted (he had once been briefly married but it had not been a success).  Now he desired, and what he desired he often got, a particular Ghia-bodied 3,500 GT Maserati he had seen at the Milan motor show.”

While the solid gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual Chronometer fits very well the literary Giuseppe Petacchi because it’s very suggestive of his greedy nature, I think the producers were very wise in choosing the Breitling 806 Navitimer for his screen persona as Derval.  The Navitimer has far more on-screen visual appeal than a solid gold Rolex, and is exponentially more suggestive of a pilot with that white outer ring and those rather neat looking sub-dials in a 3-6-9 configuration.  In fact, it is quite fitting that an aviator should wear a Breitling 806 Navitimer.  It was designed specifically for pilots and aside from having a three register chronograph function, it also had a slide rule (navigation computer) for speed, time and distance calculations.

It also appears that Derval’s Navitimer was a personal purchase within the context of the real world rather than an issued watch.  As a member of the French Air Force (Armée de l’Air), Commandant Derval would most likely have been issued a Dodane Type 21 flyback chronograph.  The Dodane Type 21 was issued to pilots of the French Air Force from about 1960 to 1980 and it’s a very handsome watch indeed.  Nevertheless, I think the 806 Navitimer has, perhaps, a slight edge in the looks department.   The looks coupled with cutting edge technology (slide rule) and the Navitimer’s status as a pilot’s instrument may have led Derval to deep six the Dodane in favor of the Breitling.

A version of the Navitimer called the Cosmonaute Navitimer was used by Astronaut Scott Carpenter (one of the original Mercury 7 Astronauts) aboard the Aurora 7.  Although the Cosmonaute has the reference number 809, it differs from the regular Navitimer only in having a 24 hour dial and an extra cog enabling the hands to traverse the dial once in 24 hours instead of twice.

The 60’s era 806 Navitimer was powered by the hand wound Venus 178 movement, had a black face with white sub-dials and was available with one of two logos at the 12 o’clock position.  It either had two stylized airplanes or the rarer and much sought after A.O.P.A. logo. A.O.P.A. stood for Airplane Owners and Pilots Association and the 806 Breitling Navitimer was endorsed by that organization.  The earliest incarnation of the 806 Navitimer, the so called rice grain version because of the beaded bezel, had the A.O.P.A. logo exclusively on the dial.

When I went looking to purchase my 806 Navitimer, I wanted the double airplane dial, however Horological Services in Pennsylvania had the rarer AOPA dial for sale, with sub dials that aged to an even gold patina.  After several telephone conversations and e-mails, I became the proud owner of a vintage  AOPA dialed 1967 806 Navitimer.  From close-ups of the Thunderball Navitimer, it’s near impossible to tell whether it’s the AOPA or double airplane dial, so it’s up to personal preference how you decide to go.  In my case the relative rarity of the AOPA dial coupled with those golden sub-dials made it an easy choice.

A Hard Break – To Be Continued

It is now necessary to take what’s called in broadcasting, “a hard break”.  In this case not for a commercial, but so you the reader can rest your eyes and your mind and digest what I’ve written.  This article is 14 pages long and you are now at page 7.  Thanks for sticking with me this long.  Part II of Bonding With Time will be continued with THUNDERBALL’s BREITLING TOP TIME, and the section on books and sources (my references for what I’ve written) will be included.

It’s alsos a perfect time to discuss the article with Donald Grant on the Absolutely James Bond Forums or read the first article which covers the Rolex Submariner.

Part 2.2 – Bonding With Time

Part 2.2 of Bonding With Time continues…

Article Copyright © 2009 Richard Dos Santos

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