History of Timepieces James Bond Watch: The First On Set

Poster from James Bond Dr. No

For watch lovers and movie buffs alike, the timepiece seen on the wrist of James Bond is exciting, ground-breaking and trendsetting.  Especially with the release of Spectre, on November 6th (less than a month!), we’re all paying close attention to the watches spotted in the previews.  James Bond has been known to wear Rolex, Seiko and Omega watches, among others.

Most recently, Omega has been the primary watch found on Bond’s wrist. But what about the first watch sported in the 1963 release of Dr. No? Just a few years ago, Dell Deaton confirmed that the first watch worn in Dr. No was in fact produced by Gruen Watch Company and was then switched out for a Rolex later in the movie.

Gruen Watches

A Brief History

After years of apprenticing under some of the prominent Swiss watch factories, Dietrich Gruen emigrated to Ohio. It was here, after working for another jeweler and watchmaker, that Gruen patented an improved safety pinion. The Gruen Watch Company uses the patent date, December 22, 1874, as the start of the company even though it was almost two years later when the first watch was produced.

The company fell into economic depression and was restarted in 1984 after his eldest and second sons joined, calling the firm D. Gruen & Sons. The company was then moved to Cincinnati, Ohio and began calling themselves Gruen. Even though the watches were built in the United States, they used movements imported from Switzerland. Briefly in the 1950s, some movements were produced in the United States.


Prominent Pieces

In 1925, they introduced the “Quadron” movement, Caliber 117. This movement was rectangular rather than rounded. This development allowed for a creation of slimmer cases. In 1935, Gruen produced the Curvex movement, Caliber 311. This popular watch is a rectangular case that mimics the curve of the wrist rather than being flat on the case-back.  The Gruen Precision 510 featured in James Bond was a different model than model photographed.

Another popular Gruen watch was the duo-dial doctor’s watch, referred to as the “Techni-Quadron.” The design of this watch looks like it has two dials. Doctors used this style watch for it’s oversized seconds dial for various timing functions. The movement was also sold to Rolex, who used it in their Prince models.


James Bond: Precision 510

If you look carefully, this Gruen was the first watch to be worn on set during pre-production and the first day of shooting in the casino scene and when arriving at the airport in Jamaica.  The casino is where Sean Connery uttered his introduction, “Bond, James Bond,” The watch is barely visible under his shirt cuff and can be seen while dealing.

Deacan, in his research, outlined that while you do see Sean Connery wearing a diver’s wristwatch in the car ride immediately following the iconic airport scene, films are not necessarily filmed in order. This is why Bond can be seen wearing a different watch in the car scene.

Some people have also theorized that the watch “showed up in the wrong place.” “Was it wrong for Bond to have arrived at the airport wearing his personal dress watch from the scenes in London? Or was he prematurely accessorized with the diver’s watch for his car ride?”


Diving into the 510

The watch worn by Connery as 007, was the Precision 510 featuring a 17-jewel movement.  The 34 millimeter gold-filled case was infact average for the time period, most watches were between 32mm and 37mm.  The watch features a small bezel surrounding an elegant, classic, white dial.  This model features Arabic numbers for 12, 3 and 9 o’clock; the 6 o’clock position is covered by a large sub-seconds dial while the other hours are index markers.

This dress watch is what the gentlemen of the day, 1962, would wear with their tuxedos.  It would have been inappropriate to have Bond wearing a diver’s watch while dressed in a tuxedo.  Wearing a Rolex Submariner, on the other hand, fit the bold and adventurous activities Bond took part in. Over the years, the Bond watches have continued to reflect the changing times in wrist wear and style while staying true to Bond’s style.


About Emily Smith
Newbie to watches but a quick learner. She loves the history of watches and loves learning how they work. She prefers Rolex and Omega watches but is learning the history behind other brands. Her watches of choice right now are her vintage Omega Ladymatic that is a mere 19mm and her newest addition, a 1973 Rolex Oyster with a navy dial. While she enjoys the look of vintage watches, she is excited to learn about new models and build her collection.

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