As marketing associations go, making the watch that James Bond wears is pretty much the most powerful there is. Forget watches worn by racing drivers, or actors, or even actors who were also racing drivers - this is bigger. It's right up there with, oh, I don't know - watches that have been approved by NASA and worn on the moon.
If you doubt this at all, consider this: most watches that are delivered to QP Towers for us to pore over, photograph and review, come in pretty mundane plastic and polystyrene packaging - even the six-figure ones. When Omega sent the Seamaster 300 Master Co-axial Chronometer that Daniel Craig will wear in next month's SPECTRE, it came in its full presentation box, complete with three-digit combination lock (no prizes for guessing what the code was), Omega-logo push-button clasp and a fair amount of what can only be described as "new car smell". The message was clear: James Bond's watch does not travel second class. Never mind spying; Omega understands that Bond is all about theatre, about grand gestures and small details.
Omega has been producing James Bond's watches since Pierce Brosnan serendipitously ended up wearing a Seamaster 300m in Goldeneye (you can read our in-depth run-down of every single Omega Bond watch here) and the pattern since them has been pretty much the same: new film; new watch, usually a Seamaster or Planet Ocean model, with a number of 007-related design tropes slotted in to make the point.
This year, however, it sprung a surprise. Having already released a SPECTRE watch, back in February, word reached us a few weeks ago that there was going to be another Bond watch this year. And this one is... different. You could describe the flashy Seamaster Aqua Terra from February, with its bright yellow accents and Bond coat of arms adorning the second hand, as the watch of the film. This? This is the watch of the man himself.
This is the watch that - we understand - Daniel Craig will be seen wearing during the film; not the Aqua Terra (although it's entirely possible he'll sport both at some point). And it is the antithesis of everything we've come to expect from an Omega Bond watch. The numbers "007" do not appear anywhere on the dial, and only very discreetly on one of the keepers for the NATO strap. There are no bright colours - instead we have the same vintage-hued luminova on the arrow hands and hour indexes as you find on the standard Co-axial 300, and the same glossy black ceramic on the bezel.
Indeed, the changes to the watch are relatively minimal. The 12 has disappeared, replaced with a larger-than-usual Omega logo and text. The pointed second hand has been replaced with a "lollipop" style hand - which we just think is great, and does more than you would expect to influence the whole design. Most significantly from a functional point of view, the bezel notation has been changed from a minutes counter to a 0-11 hours scale, meaning the watch can be used to track two timezones. It also now rotates in both directions to reflect the change of purpose; this little switch makes the Seamaster less of a diving watch and more of an explorer's timepiece.
Otherwise, it's the same 41mm case, same lovely mixture of polished facets and brushed caseband, same unguarded crown, and of course the same co-axial, antimagnetic (to 15,000+ gauss) caliber. Of course, because this is a limited edition (7,007 pieces being made; some habits do die hard) there is some custom engraving on the caseback, reading "SPECTRE" and the numbered edition. But that's mostly hidden by the strap (as is the sapphire display window).
Oh yes, that strap. We'd almost forgotten. In a great gesture to James Bond fans (and very possibly a sign of the times; after all, Tudor et al now sell watches on canvas straps as standard), Omega has equipped the SPECTRE Seamaster with a mil-spec NATO strap in black and grey stripes. Bond watch nerds will correctly observe that this is not the same configuration as the nine-band navy blue, red and olive NATO made famous by the oddly ill-fitting strap on Sean Connery's Rolex Submariner in Thunderball. But it is a wholly suitable strap for this watch, and has to stand as one of the main reasons Bond fans are going to love it.
Having worn the watch, as well, it's hard to imagine it on a bracelet or - heaven forbid - a leather strap. That would risk returning this subtle design to the levels of the core collection, and deprive it of its man-of-action status. It works that it's light and breezy; some Bond watches in the past have been weighed down with their own seriousness - much like the films they accompanied. It's no great stretch at all to say that this is Omega's Casino Royale - back to basics, stylish, energetic and muscular. And very much one for the fans.
The Omega SPECTRE Seamaster 300 Co-axial is priced at £4,785.