To readers of Ian Fleming’s original James Bond novels and those who fondly recall the early Sean Connery films, Agent 007 will always be a Rolex man. To younger fans, who’ve known no cinematic Bond other than Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, Bond is inseparable from Omega. But a new exhibit at the National Watch and Clock Museum (NAWCC) in Columbia, PA, reveals that the British superspy has also strapped on a number of other brands throughout the years, including Seiko, Hamilton, and TAG Heuer, all outfitted with – gasp! – quartz movements.
“James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution,” which opens on June 3 at NAWCC, is curated by James Bond expert, founder of JamesBondWatches.com, and occasional WatchTime contributor Dell Deaton. The exhibit marks the first time that “screen-correct” models of all 12 quartz wristwatches worn in the James Bond films — from the period spanning 1973 through 1995 — will be assembled side by side and in running condition. Through the pop culture icon of James Bond, Deaton hopes to use the exhibit to “correct myths arguing that the Quartz Revolution was nothing more than about making watches cheaper.”
“This exhibit seeks to explain why this revolution happened when it happened and shows how it continues to remain invaluable to contemporary society—at the very least, to reopen the discussion and move beyond cliché,” Deaton states in the NAWCC’s press release. “The most important outcome of the Quartz Revolution was that it delivered a vast leap in one’s personal, mobile ability to control his own timekeeping. It was the culmination of a centuries-old pursuit, and it was delivered at exactly the period in history when consumers were ready for it and demanding it. None of this was simple or obvious as it was happening. The Quartz Revolution is essentially a consumer-driven story… By focusing on the fictional ‘James Bond’ character, we create a proxy for the consumer that can stand as a brand on equal footing with those of watchmakers. Thus, we can tell this story from its necessary, original perspective. I also think that makes it more globally objective as well.”
Below are some notable highlight pieces from “James Bond Wore the Quartz Revolution.” (All watch photos © 2015 JamesBondWatches.com and Dell Deaton, All Rights Reserved.)
James Bond first wore a quartz watch — a Hamilton Pulsar P2 model 2900, “nicknamed “The Time Computer” — in 1973’s “Live and Let Die,” starring Roger Moore. The product placement was a fitting choice for the time, as the so-called Quartz Revolution (referred to widely by mechanical-watch enthusiasts as the “Quartz Crisis”) was just starting to gain steam, with key makers from Japan, Switzerland, and the United States all offering competitively priced quartz timekeepers to consumers.
Longtime Bond film producer Albert R. Broccoli chose another digital timepiece, the Seiko Quartz LC model DK001, 0674-5009 as James Bond’s watch in 1977’s “The Spy Who Loved Me,” also with Moore in the lead. Broccoli’s first movie as sole head of EON Productions. The watch’s maker used “field effect modulation” for its liquid-crystal diode (LCD) screen output, which aided in its ability to constantly display to-the-second time and maximize its power consumption efficiency. Interestingly enough, this Seiko was also the first onscreen James Bond watch that displayed the date.
Bond went back to an analog timepiece for 1987’s “The Living Daylights,”which introduced Timothy Dalton to the Bond role and returned the character to Ian Fleming’s original vision as a “stealth commando.” Bond’s watch in the movie was the TAG Heuer Night Diver reference 980.031, outfitted with a quartz movement, as were most TAG Heuers at the time. Jack Heuer later wrote in his autobiography that the 980 series was what had returned his company to profitability following the tough years of the Quartz Revolution. The same watch was also worn by four other characters in “The Living Daylights” — a record for a Bond film.
Omega’s association with the James Bond franchise began with 1995’s “GoldenEye,” which was the first to star Pierce Brosnan as Agent 007 and the last Bond movie produced before the death of Albert R. Broccoli. (In total, 11 out of Broccoli’s 12 Bond-watch choices as head of EON Productions had been quartz.) Whereas Brosnan’s Bond wore a mechanical Omega watch in the film (the Seamaster Ref. 2531.80), he also sported a quartz model, Seamaster reference 2541.80. This is the last confirmed James Bond movie watch with a quartz movement; all the choices since then have been Omegas with mechanical movements.
NAWCC Museum Director Noel Poirier says of the exhibit, “We’re excited once again to explore an important aspect of wristwatch development through the story of James Bond. The Bond story is universally understood and relatable for our visitors and allows us to explore the significant influence of the quartz revolution in an engaging way.” For more info, directions, or other Museum information, you can call 717-684-8261 or visit www.museumoftime.org.