With the release of the latest film in the Bond franchise “No Time to Die” it was no surprise to see and hear the full force of the Omega marketing machinery in full swing promoting the latest watch for 007. Although this is of course the promotion of a commercial product on the wrist of a fictional character, we do know that this is still based in part on historical accuracy. Join us as we take a look at who the real Bond really is and what he would be wearing today.
Today the reality of the work that the Secret Intelligence Service (or MI6 to you and I) does is by nature “secret” (in fact it is UK classified as ‘TOPSECRET’) which therefore means that a lot is unknown about what intelligence operators get up to and how they work. However the various heads of SIS (known by the designation ‘C’ rather than the fictional ‘M’) have over the years taken the opportunity to debunk some of the myths – one of which is that MI6 intelligence officers carry guns and have a license to kill – they really don’t. In fact the oversight and scrutiny that the British intelligence agencies have is far greater than you might imagine and they strictly operate within the law. So lets explore who Bond could be…
Following the September 11th terrorist attacks it has become a necessity for MI6 to operate in more hostile regions around the world. With this operational requirement comes the need for protection and other discrete work – and who better experienced and qualified to provide this than experienced Special Forces operators?
Looking at James Bonds’ past we know that he was a Royal Navy Officer – later holding the rank of Commander. A man with Bond’s skillset today in the Navy would have progressed through to the Royal Marines Commandos and if he truly excelled would have been asked if he would attend ‘selection’ for UK special forces. Passing selection would have provided a choice to enter either the Special Air Service or its Royal Navy counterpart the Special Boat Service – where he would have received further training including diving, underwater reconnaissance, underwater demolitions, submarine infiltration and much more. While the existence of both the SAS and the SBS are relatively well known, they operate as part of the UK’s Special Forces community which also includes Special Reconnaissance Regiment and the Special Forces Support Group. However the UK Special Forces also has another rather discrete unit called ‘E-Squadron’. The unit is manned by experienced operators who are hand picked from the SAS, SBS & SRR specifically to work with the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6). So after joining the SBS, Bond would have been hand picked to serve in E Squadron. He would then have supported, protected and operated alongside MI6 in a variety of roles across the globe at short notice.
So now we’ve managed to establish who the real Bond might actually be, what watch might Bond wear on his wrist?
In 1954 Rolex won the contract to supply the British Ministry of Defence with the MilSub – a modified Submariner. These were used extensively throughout the British navy for divers, commandos and the Special Boat Service alike. The Milsub was not massively changed for the military market however the MoD did mandate fixed bars ensuring the watch would not become separated from its wearer and a larger bezel along with the distinctive “sword hands”. Between 1967 and 1971 Omega supplied the Ministry of Defence with military grade Seamaster 300s. Like the MilSub, these were delivered and used by the Navy and special forces alike.
Since the 1970’s however it has been the Cabot Watch Company (CWC) who won the contract to supply all three arms of the Ministry of Défense with timepieces. Initially the Royal Navy Divers watch was an Automatic with the reference 0552/9237697 – This superseded the Rolex Milsub and is actually rarer than the watch it replaced. A few years later this was updated at the M.O.D’s request to become a quartz version (Model RN300-83 QM60 with a NATO code of 0552/6645-99-7573314). This was then issued to Royal Marines and Special forces under a revised designation (RN300-MT QM60 with a NATO code of 0555/6645-99-7573314) . This is the watch that Bond would have been issued with upon joining the Royal Marines Commando’s .
CWC were commissioned to provide a bespoke variant of this watch for the Special Boat service- with a black PVD coating (QS120-DD with a NATO code of 0555/6645-99-7995443)
While Bond would have been provided with the black SBS watch upon his successful entry into the Special Boat Service, operating in E Squadron would require him to blend in to his surroundings rather than standing out, and in civilian clothing (rather than a wetsuit) it is the watch he was provided when he joined the Royal Marines Commando’s (RN300-MT QM60 with a NATO code of 0555/6645-99-7573314) that he would be wearing today. Tough as nails, accurate, highly dependable and cost effective (as the MoD doesn’t have a slush fund for expensive watches).
While the bond franchise was built on remarkable history and facts that informed the fiction of the books and films with a heritage including Rolex and Omega of the earlier years, the only way the real life bond is wearing an omega is if he is buying it himself – although this does nothing to detract from the heritage that Omega genuinely has with the UK Ministry of Defence it is unfortunately not what the real world ‘Bond’ wears.
This particular CWC Royal Navy Diver (0555/6645-99-7573314) Serial number 325/21 is arguably one of the most historically significant CWC Royal Navy Divers Watches. It was issued at 14:06 on September 8th 2022 and is the very last that CWC supplied before Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II sadly passed away just over an hour later. I had the privilege to serve Her Majesty for many years in a number of roles and I’m pleased to say that this particular watch is my own.
While Omega and Rolex have a rich history and heritage suppling the British Ministry of Defence with watches, these are expensive and very hard to find. You could easily spend just over £6000 on an Omega PlanetOcean as worn by Daniel Craig or over £8000 on the latest “No Time To Die” Omega Seamaster 300m.
However, should you want to adorn your wrist with something with arguably greater current prevenance, you could buy a CWC RN Diver for a fraction of the price.
The Cabot Watch Company Royal Navy Diver Issue (RN300-MT-QM60) is available direct from CWC here for £550 as supplied to the Ministry of Defence, UK Special Forces and other discrete units.