James Bond, It's Time to Try on Your Apple Watch

Ever since the movie Dr. No, James Bond has often used a gadget wristwatch to get out of a tight spot. Have the watches of the Bond movies seeped into our collective smartwatch subconsciousness? Also, Bond is a Brit and Sir Jonathan Ive is a Brit. What connection could there possibly be?

Sean Connery as James Bond. With a Watch or Two

There's no doubt James Bond movies have become intrinsic to our culture. Nifty action events, phrases from the films, the various actors who've played the role and the Bond women all contribute to western culture. As do the magical wristwatches in those films. In fact, a very nice history of wristwatches in the Bond films can be found at www.007museum.com. There, the author writes:

Naturally, it was Ian Fleming who started it all. He knew that a gentleman's choice of timepiece says as much about him as does his Saville Row suit. He took the time to specify Bond's choice. According to Fleming, and he should know, Bond wears a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Chronometer on an expanding metal bracelet. He tells us so in chapter 15 of On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

"A gentleman's choice of timepiece."  Indeed. And it goes from there.

In the first Bond movie, Dr. No, James's wristwatch was fitted with a Geiger counter. In From Russia with Love, James Bond used a watch fitted with a garrote wire to terminate S.P.E.C.T.R.E. villain Red Grant. In Live and Let Die, Bond has a watch that generates an intense magnetic field designed to deflect bullets. (Most bullets, except for those with a steel jacket, wouldn't be affected by a magnetic field, and the battery in a watch wouldn't have enough power create a strong enough field anyway. But it was fun.)

In For Your Eyes Only, Bond wears a Seiko that allows for a digital message from "M" to scroll along the top of the display and also does audio communication, Dick Tracy style.

Perhaps the icing on the cake is GoldenEye, in which Bond gets out of tight spot with a laser in his Omega Seamaster Professional that's powerful enough to be a cutting tool. (Wouldn't Apple like to have that battery!) There are many other examples in the 007 Museum article, but the message is clear. For over 50 years, fans of the James Bond movies, and that's most of us I would surmise, have been fascinated by the gadget wristwatch. If not for combat purposes, then at least the ability to communicate with the rest of the world.

Or deflect a bullet.

And Then There Are The Influences on Jony Ive

In studying the life of Sir Jonathan Ive, it doesn't take long to come across stories of his exposure to fine timepieces. In Leander Kahney's excellent book, Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products, the author tells the story on page 260 of Mr. Ive's research into the manufacturing methods that could be used for the iPhone.

But Jony's team got really serious about machining in 2005 for the iPhone. At that time they visited various watch manufacturers to see how precise, long-lasting time-keeping products were made.

The exposure to the highly machined parts used in Swiss watches no doubt lingered in Mr. Ive's memory.

In a recent Financial Times article, we hear Mr. Ive's own words.

It was different with the phone – all of us working on the first iPhone were driven by an absolute disdain for the cellphones we were using at the time. That’s not the case here. We’re a group of people who love our watches. So we’re working on something, yet have a high regard for what currently exists.

There has to be some synergy here. Mr. Ive's appreciation for finely crafted watches and awareness of the Bond movies bring the Apple Watch to life. As for us, our collective memory of 50+ years of James Bond movies and very cool wristwatches has seeped into our psyche. When we look at an Apple watch, designed by Mr. Ive, and think about its craftsmanship, beauty, messaging, notices, phone calls and Apple Pay, there's that bingo moment. We're not secret agents, but we want an Apple Watch. I suspect our subconscious speaks to us.

From time to time, I can hear Auric Goldfinger in my head with a new, updated line. "No mister Bond! I don't expect you to die. I expect you to wear an Apple Watch!"


Bond movie images: credit MGM and Danjaq LLC