Monday, November 3, 2008

Part 1: Daniel Craig's Vintage Sean Connery Rolex Submariner 6538

Quantum James Bond Rolex Theory

"He could not just wear a watch. It had to be a Rolex.
–Ian Fleming (Casino Royale)

This is a story about James Bond's watch. James Bond's Rolex watch to be specific. Some people call it the James Bond watch, other's call it the James Bond wristwatch.

The latest James Bond movie named Quantum of Solace is going to be released internationally over the course of the next few weeks and it stars Daniel Craig who is pictured below. Quantum of Solace is Craig's second portrayal of James Bond–his first being Casino Royale released in 2006.

There is something a little strange about Daniel Craig and his Rolex Submariner 6538. You see, Rolex was always pretty much the watch James Bond wore up until Peirce Brosnan started playing Bond. (Roger Moore wore a Rolex Submariner and he also wore a digital watch in the 1970s. I think it was a Seiko.)

In the photo above you see the large Brevet Crown on Daniel Craig's Rolex Submariner 6538
(with NO Crown guards)

Note: Brevet means patent in French.

Pierce Brosnan started wearing an Omega Seamaster that looked very similar to a Rolex Submariner which was strange because when Ian Fleming wrote Casino Royale he said James Bond could not just wear any watch, but that it HAD to be a Rolex. Ian Fleming also wore a Rolex.

In the second making of Casino Royale, (2006) there is a strange scene where James Bond's character, played by Daniel Craig is riding with a beautiful woman on a train and she looks at his watch and asks, "Nice watch. Is that a Rolex?" Bond replies "Omega." In strategic marketing this if referred to as a Repositioning tactic.

In other words, Craig is repositioning Omega to be the same as, equal to, or better than Rolex–Brilliant.

Daniel Craig Suffering From Risitus?

Here is the really strange part. It appears to me that in this new movie they are continuing to execute their repositioning strategy by using a different tactic. In a recent interview Daniel Craig randomly started telling a story about how his Rolex he likes to wear is a Rolex Submariner Reference "6358" which he says is an exact replica of the one he remembers Sean Connery wearing in Goldfinger. One of the challenges is there is no such watch as a Rolex Reference Number 6358. I think somebody had a dyslexic moment (or a typo) and interposed 6358 with 6538.

Sean Connery wore a Rolex Submariner [Reference number 6538]. For the record, the photo below is of Sean Connery starring as James Bond in Goldfinger.

The photo below is a wrist shot of James Bond's rolex Submariner [Reference 6538] from Goldfinger and notice the following:

1. The strap is a Regimental 3 color strap. It is Dark Navy, Dark Olive and four very fine burgundy stripes.
2. It is not a NATO strap. It has no 316L Stainless returns.
3. The NAVY stripes are not uniform in width. Notice the outer Navy stipes are half the width of the center stripe.
4. Notice the strap does not fit the watch. The space between the lugs in 20mm and Sean Connery's stap appears to be 16mm. (Which I think looks ugly).

Just to be clear: A Regimental stripe band (pictured below) is made from one single strip of nylon–think of it as being exactly like a belt you would wear with trousers but much smaller . A NATO strap (pictured two photos down) is made from two nylon straps joined together so it doubles up behind the watch unlike Sean Connery's Goldfinger watch which just has one strip that slides through the cross-bars.

Click image above to see three colors with Non-uniform stripes

The watch strap below is a NATO spec strap. It is sold as a "James Bond" model, but unless I am seriously missing something, it has nothing to do with James Bond. James Bond's Regimental strap pictured above has Dark Navy, Dark Olive and Burgundy stripes. The band pictured below in black and grey.

Notice the stripes on Daniel Craig's two color NATO are uniform like on the NATO pictured above. As a matter of fact, I think he is wearing the NATO strap pictured above.

You can see the dual 316L Stainless returns on backside of Craig's NATO strap above

Daniel Craig can be seen wearing the Rolex Submariner 6538 in all the photos in this story on a NATO strap. As I pointed out, ironically, he is the first James Bond to ever wear a Submariner on a true NATO spec strap. I think in many ways the Submariner 6538 looks cooler on a NATO.

You can see the single 316L Stainless Steel return on the frontside of Graig's watch above

So is it possible that Daniel Craig simply has great taste and his personal choice is to wear a vintage Rolex Submariner 6538 off-screen and an Omega Seamaster James Bond Special Edition on-screen? Sure. Do I think that is the case (pun intended) or do I think it is a Strategic Marking strategy? Hard to say, but my best guess is it is strategic marketing. I hope I am wrong.

I was just talking with Scott Carpenter's daughter, Kris about this story and she shared her perception which is fascinating. I will share it with you. Her interpretation is that Daniel Craig is a purist and is resisting the "Americanization" of James Bond. (Americanization meaning "Commercialization.") So he wears the Omega in the movie because he has to but in real life he wears his 6538 as an homage to Sean Connery.

There is also a myth that has circulated around for many years that says that Cubby Broccoli, the producer of (Eon Productions) many of the early James Bond movies noticed Sean Connery did not have a watch on his wrist in Dr. No and pulled his Rolex off his wrist and gave it to Sean Connery. The logic is that Dr. No was a relatively low budget movie with a budget of only $1Million. I don't believe this to be true.

First of all, a Rolex Submariner back then cost something like $150 and I think they could have afforded it in their million dollar budget. Secondly, I have an extremely solid source that tells me that Rolex provided the Submariner's to the James Bond movies for free because Ian Fleming specifically spelled out that James Bond ONLY wore a Rolex. It is so hard to say. I think Sean Connery is the only person who knows and I intend to ask him.

Did Rolex ever pay the James Bond franchise for James Bond to wear a Rolex in the form of Product Placement? I don't think so. Did Omega pay the James Bond franchise to have Pierce Brosnan wear an Omega and do they still pay for product placement today? I believe so, but I do not know it to be a fact.

So in the final analysis does any of this really matter anyway? Probably not. There is a tremendous amount of confusion and misinformation in the world of vintage and collectable Rolex and with the history surrounding it. My goal as a historian and scientist is to separate the fact from the fiction once and for all.

Do I love Rolex? Yes, absolutely!!! Do I love Omega? No. I like Omega and I think they make fine watches. I like the Moon watch and think it looks kind of cool. Would I ever buy and wear an Omega? Sure. Have I ever bought and worn an Omega? Not yet, but at some point I will probably buy an Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch, but I am not in a hurry.

I imagine the point I am trying to share with you, the reader, is that despite being a very loyal Rolex fan, I consider myself first and foremost to be a historian. I would NEVER suppress historical data to make Rolex look better. I say this because I have seen many sights dedicated to the Omega Moonwatch and typically there is not one photo of a NASA astronaut wearing a Rolex despite the fact that the NASA archives are littered with photo of astronauts wearing Rolex.

I have much more fascinating James Bond Rolex history and NASA Astronaut Rolex history coming up in the future so stay tuned.

Also, I like Daniel Craig and think he is a great James Bond in many ways. He kind of looks like Steve McQueen to me. I think the Rolex Submariner 6538 on the NATO strap also looks really cool.


Headunderbed said...

Excellent trivia pursuit Jake !

James P said...

Product placement contracts are well known, and it is generally known that Omega, a division of the very well-heeled Swatch Group, pays for the placement in the Bond films. I know as a historian you have to find the proof, but I doubt it will be much trouble. I have read that Rolex will not pay for product placement in films/TV, but again, I've never seen an official statement from Rolex to that effect.

I, too, don't know whether Fleming ever stated that Bond *must* wear a Rolex, but as I'm sure you know, Fleming did specify in his books that Bond wore Rolex. No particular model was specified, at least that I recall. Bond could have worn a Date-Just :-)

And last - I do remember the "Omega Scene" in Casino Royale quite well. Bond simply answered, "Omega." He pronounced it, "Omeega," with what I interpreted as a bit of a disapproving sneer at the name. But that could have been my own favoritism toward Rolex at play :-)

Pein said...

Omega is a sponsor/product advertiser on the Bond movies, just like Aston Martin, BMW, Sony Ericsson etc etc.

SonyE and Omega both have 007 products that they themselves sell.

cda said...

Hi Jake,

The fact that Omega actually paid to be in James Bond movies from 1994 is actually the brainchild of James Bond production and of the notorious Jean-Claude Biver, then in charge of Omega marketing.

The story behind this partnership, one of the first product placements + conjoint marketing campaingn, has been documented by Jean-Claude Biver himself, in a testimony he made on Forumamaontres.

For more info (in French):


Lol-x said...

Very well written. Only thing is I don't understand the strategy of Danial Craig wearing a Rolex, unless Rolex pays him. I would not think Omega would get any advantage by it.

Dame Zara said...

Hi Jake, have you heard of anyone who actually sells an 'authentic' JB strap? I've seen striped NATOs of various colours (I recently bought a red/black one for my Vostok Aphibia), but never that pattern. Given the number of watch fans who would buy a 'genuine' Bond strap, I'm very surprised no-one seems to make them. cheers, Tim (Melbourne, Australia)

Jake Ehrlich said...

Hi Dame Zara,

A number of people have asked me if the James Bond strap actually exists and if it can be purchased. To the best of my knowledge, it does not exist.

I have a background in textile design and I am am looking into making the exact real strap, but in 20mm. Assuming I make the strap in the future I will have a link for it on the blog.



Cam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cam said...

Hi Jake,

Great Blog! It was just brought to my attention by a friend. Over at the Military Watch Resource Forum we have been discussing the "Real Bond NATO" colors for years. The consenus, with which I agree, is exactly the same as your conclusion.

I have had a batch of these correctly colored straps made in the UK by Phoenix Straps (original supplier of NATO G10 straps to the British MOD.) It was difficult because the threads had to be custom dyed, and a large mill run was required as a result.

Anyway, I will have them for sale a ready to ship in 2-3 weeks. I had them made in 18, 20 and 22mm, in both the NATO and the "RAF" Style. You can see them at my website:



Charlie said...

I hate to say this, but there is NO indication in the pictures that Daniel Craig is even wearing a Rolex. And if he is, at least the pictures of him in the black turtleneck, do not show a Submariner at all. It could be an Explorer II, but the bezel is certainly not that of a 6538 Submariner. The 6538 and most all other Subs have a black bezel insert. What is shown in the pics is a silver or metal bezel/insert.

Jake Ehrlich said...

Hi Charlie,

Daniel Craig's 6538 has an extremely faded bezel insert which makes it look silver.

You can see it in close-up detail in this story:

Warmest regards,


improvhelsinki said...

James bonds first watch( in the books) was a GIRARD -PERREGAUX!!!

Conor Cathey said...

What about all the watches Bond wore not covered here: Brietlings, Tag Heuers, Seikos, etc.? You claim this is supposed to be the definitive guide to the James Bond wrist watches, but fail to mention anything beyond the Rolexes and the fact that in the 90s the movies switched to Omegas. I guess I should have paid attention to the fact that this was a Rolex blog before reading the article. Don't get me wrong, I love Rolex. But this is worse than straight up Rolex advertising; it is strikingly disingenuous. I find it hilarious that the author bashes the Bond movies for becoming commercialized (well actually he uses the term Americanized first) because they wanted a business partnership with the brand that they knew they would be pushing, and yet the author shoves Rolex down your throat as the only acceptable watch option.

I get it. I love Rolex and as a Bond purist myself (i read the books when I was in my early teens before even seeing all the movies), I get that the only true Bond watch is a Rolex. And yet, that has not been the case for the movies. If you want to accurately represent like a true historian would, you need to include all models that he wore.

Jake Ehrlich said...


Not True!!?!

I have written extensively about the other watches including Brietling and Seiko in my 13 part series on James Bond Watches:

Chapter 1 begins here:



TheRolexMan said...

Very cool article, but you are mistaken about the reference number of the Submariner that Sean Connery is wearing in that movie, and in that photo with the nato-like strap. The correct reference is 6536, not 6538. You can read the evidence on the dial photo. No chronometer rating. The 6536 was the no-chronometer version of the watch. The 6538 had two extra lines, chronometer, officially certified. So Connery was wearing the standard model with only a depth rating, and the word SUBMARINER.

chrislee01 said...

That's not correct. The Goldfinger Submariner has the large crown which means it is a 6538. Not all 6538's has the Chronometer markings on the dial.