Joanne Glasbey and Peter Howarth
If you’re a James Bond fan and find yourself near Piccadilly before the end of December, make time to drop by Omega’s Bond House pop-up in Burlington Arcade. This dedicated retail boutique by the franchise’s watch collaborator has a VIP and private members’ bar featuring a gallery of behind-the-scenes imagery of the latest Bond film, No Time To Die, shot by photographer Greg Williams, plus an exhibition area open to all, showcasing special props from the James Bond archives. There will be dry martinis being shaken for sure and some suave-as-Bond wrist wear, including the Omega Seamaster Diver 300 watch that Daniel Craig sports in the new film.
Omega has, of course, been the watch partner for James Bond since 1995’s GoldenEye, when costume designer Lindy Hemming chose to have Pierce Brosnan wear one of its timepieces. It was Brosnan’s first appearance as the spy, and Hemming says, ‘I wanted to pull it back to a gentleman or a sophisticated commander in the navy… essentially he’d look like a much more modern kind of guy’. She chose Omega for a personal reason: ‘I suppose it was because I knew people in my childhood who had worn Omega diving watches. There were men who my father knew who were divers; and they wouldn’t go down without an Omega.’
By the time Daniel Craig arrived on the scene in Casino Royale in 2006, Omega was well established as 007’s watchmaker of choice. Hemming also did the costumes for that film, something of a series reboot, where she made the character even more contemporary.
Since then there have been four more outings for Craig and his Omegas, culminating in the 25th film in the Bond franchise, No Time to Die, released earlier this week. And according to Raynald Aeschlimann, Omega’s CEO, over the 15 years of Craig’s tenure wearing the tux and battling the bad guys, the relationship between watchmaker and character has transformed.
‘It’s completely different now,’ says Aeschlimann, sitting in the Omega pop-up in Burlington Arcade, having flown in for the world premiere of No Time To Die. ‘We realised that we weren’t content to play the role of simply placing a watch on the wrist. Instead, we wanted to get involved and for our 007 watches to channel the DNA of a secret agent.’
These days, Craig gets involved in the design of the timepiece he will wear as Bond, James Bond. The new lightweight Seamaster Diver 300m 007 Edition is made from Grade 2 titanium to make it strong and light to wear. As Craig says, ‘We decided that a lightweight watch would be key for a military man like 007’. The watch has a vintage look with a brown dial and bezel ring both in aluminium.
‘Omega has been given the opportunity to play the real Q to this Bond where his watch is concerned,’ explains Aeschlimann. ‘And this latest edition of the Seamaster is a celebration not only of the movie – it is also a celebration of the man.’
That man, says Aeschlimann, is today more appealing than ever. ‘I think that what the writers and Daniel have done over the past few years is turn Bond into a man who is emotionally sensitive, and this makes him truly inspiring. There is a lot of discussion these days of what men should be, and through this incredible actor, the Bond franchise is exploring this, without losing any of the excitement and muscular secret service aspect of the films. This new dimension gives him a universality.’