We joined the official launch of the new Omega Seamaster 300M James Bond watch in NYC. We thought it would be interesting to share some impressions of that event, as Omega also took the opportunity to talk about their connection with military watches.

In the past years, I’ve had many experiences which I would have never had if I would still be working in real estate. Visiting NYC twice for two cool Omega events (one being our own Speedy Tuesday event in collaboration with Omega and the other this James Bond launch) is a privilege. Enjoy my report.

The Launch Of The James Bond Watch

The official launch begins with a word of welcome by Omega CEO Raynald Aeschlimann, followed by sharing the first visual impressions of the new James Bond watch. The event location is the Standard High Line, in the Meat Packing District in NYC.

A brief history

Petros Protopapas (Brand Heritage Manager at Omega) gives us an introduction to military watches and Omega. He’s a human database when it comes to the history of Omega. What I appreciate about Petros Protopapas is that he is very factual, and when something is not entirely sure or confirmed, he will either clearly mention it or not at all. Petros Protopapas is a passionate speaker, and I notice that he comes very prepared when giving presentations like this one, in NYC.

As most of you know, about 110.000 watches have been delivered to the allied forces during WWII. More than half of those watches were delivered by Omega. It is good to know that Omega only delivered to allied forces during this war. Otherwise, it would have put a dent in their pride for sure. To illustrate what type of watches were delivered, Petros Protopapas brought a selection of them with him to NYC. Most of the watches that Omega delivered to the allied forces went to the Ministry of Defence (or MoD in short) of the United Kingdom. Let’s have a closer look at the watches Omega brought with them, and the background story of these.

Military Watches

It all started with a pocket watch, the GSTP, or ‘General Service Time Piece’. This is basically the watch for all those who weren’t pilots or navigators. It was a big change that the forces on the ground had a watch during those horrible days of the war. And they would tell the time in darkness due to radium that was used for luminescence. The second delivery was referred to as the ‘Weems’ due to its rotating bezel, which was invented by Philip van Horn Weems. An interesting fact is that a similar watch is used in the film Dunkirk. The director or moviemakers did their research to use a historically correct watch for the pilot character. Yet, while doing their homework correctly, they never got in touch to borrow one from Omega. So the watch that is used in that movie is recreated to be as historically correct as possible. 

Next in line is one of the big deliveries and first true Spitfire watch often referred to as the hurricane. And towards the end of the war came, as we all know, the ‘Dirty Dozen’. Unlike earlier watches, these watches were specifically made to military standards. This is what a typical military timepiece looks today with a black dial, contrasting luminous markings. All carry the W.W.W. inscription on the back, short for Watch, Wrist(let), and Waterproof.

And from 1952 onwards, the MoD continued to trust Omega for their watches. They needed an anti-magnetic timepiece, for example. Also, these were the first watches to carry NATO markings. The watch that could probably have been worn by James Bond, if he would have been around. Released declassified documents show a watch that is not an Omega design, yet it specifies the Seamaster 300.

When looking at drawings, the watch defined as a military watch by the MoD resembles an Omega. Most of these watches have markings of a broad arrow. Anything that had a broad arrow mark on it, wasn’t supposed to be in civilian hands as its a government property mark. It was only a short presentation given by Omega, but we would like to dig in a bit deeper into this subject in the near future. We will keep you posted.

About Bond watches

After this historical lesson from Petros Protopapas, it is time to sit down with Omega’s CEO, Raynald Aeschlimann, for an opportunity to talk about a thing or two, and the new Omega Seamaster 300M James Bond, of course. During the session, we learn a bit more about how the selection for the Omega watches in Bond movies evolved.

It makes sense that someone in the secret service wears a military watch. Due to the history that Omega has in this field, amongst other qualities, the 300M ended up in the Bond movies. Given the fact that the partnership is there for almost 25 years shows the perfect match. During the years, different models have been used in the movies. We have given a full rundown of all Omegas used by Bond here. After using the Seamaster Planet Ocean in the last Bond movies, he’s now going back to this new Seamaster 300M.

For the selection process, Daniel Craig was also involved. We learn that the choice for this watch also comes with the idea of designing his own watch. As Daniel Craig is a big watch enthusiast he got the opportunity and was closely involved with the design process of the new 300M. Two important design aspects stand out for the Bond watch, which had to be a military model as well. First is the mesh bracelet that needed to be light-weight. Another detail is the color of the Super-Luminova. The color matches the light and strong titanium Grade 2 case and it gives a bit of a vintage look.

Seamaster 300M James Bond Edition

And then, finally, we get to see and handle the new Omega Seamaster 300M James Bond. Where RJ already had the pleasure to see it earlier in the year in Italy, for me it was the first time to see it. The first thing to notice is how incredibly light-weight it is. Especially on the mesh bracelet. Usually, a mesh bracelet is quite heavy,  perhaps because the last one I had on my wrist was the Seamaster 1200M Ploprof. But compared to that bulky and heavy watch, this one can almost be called elegant. And the mesh bracelet isn’t just a simple straight one as it goes thinner towards the end. On the bracelet, there are several holes to which the folding clasp adjusts. As with a military watch, it comes with all the markings. The domed sapphire looks great. So does the combo of the titanium with the dark brown dial, bezel and matching patina. We won’t dive into the full details again as you can read these in the in-depth review of the Seamaster 300M James Bond Edition.

Press Conference

In the evening, we attend a press conference to celebrate the iconic partnership with James Bond, and the official launch of the new 007 watch. On stage are Raynald Aeschlimann, Petros Protopapas, Daniel Craig, Barbara Broccoli, and Michael G. Wilson. We’ve taken some of the questions and answers that are most interesting regarding watches. First, we get a showcase of the most legendary (and funny) moments. These also display the connection between Omega and James Bond. Shortly after, followed by the official trailer for the new Bond film ‘No Time to Die’. The world premiere of the movie is set for the end of March 2020. Due to the strict no-photo policy, we don’t have any images of this part of the day.

MC: I’d like to begin with you Raynald, and simply ask why the partnership between James Bond and OMEGA is so special.

Raynald Aeschlimann: If we talk about a “partnership” I will refer to my French English, because the word “partner” in French means a lot. Everybody talks today about collaboration, but not so much about partnership. Partnership is when you want to get the best out of each other and I think that is quite unique in the watch industry. This partnership started a long time ago and that’s also very important. It’s not about the short term. As we say at the Olympic Games, there are “track records”, and that’s what we’ve had for more than 20 years and, for OMEGA, that’s a great source of pride. It’s been a long relationship with EON. This whole story started, as I say, 25 years ago. We love to work with them. We love their creativity. We love their dedication and passion. Those are the things that also make OMEGA so different. We are passionate people. We love what we do, and of course, it’s a fundamental pillar of our DNA, because it represents sophistication, adventure, elegance and incredible style. And it’s also about positive emotion. And we need that. For OMEGA, it’s an incredible partnership.

MC: It’s certainly a perfect connection. It all has to do with a history that goes all the way back to the second World War, when OMEGA received the order for, and delivered, to the British forces and Navy forces more than 110,000 timepieces to be used for the war effort. So we can safely assume when we talk about Commander Bond, that if he was a real person, he would almost certainly have been issued with an OMEGA watch at the time. Perhaps Michael and Barbara would like to enlighten us on how this all started?

Michael G. Wilson: Of course, for me, the idea that OMEGA was a great timepiece started in 1969, when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, and all the astronauts had OMEGA timepieces on. Of course, he had to leave his in the lunar module, because the electrics in the module had failed, so this was the only way they could get back and navigate home. So, I thought, if it’s good enough for the astronauts and the moon landing, it’s got to be good enough for James Bond. Lindy Hemming, whose father was one of those people who got the OMEGA navy watch in the war, she remembered that. She was the costume designer, and she recommended it and we started our partnership. And it’s been going and thriving ever since. It’s been a great partnership.  

MC: So, what can you tell us about your role in the design of the watch?

Daniel Craig: The relationship has built over the five movies that I’ve done. When I did Casino Royale, I kind of wanted a new watch. I wanted my watch. My Bond watch. Pierce’s watch was very beautiful and I have one and I wear it often. But I wanted one that suited my Bond. The Planet Ocean that I wore in that film, I still have it, felt correct. It’s a big watch. If you were in real trouble, you could wrap it around your knuckles and smack someone in the face with it, which is an important thing. But what was great, was that I started talking to OMEGA and all the people there, and we started having a dialogue, and I suppose I thought, “they’re not really going to listen to me, they’re a watch manufacturer.” I love watches but I know very little about them, but actually the relationship has built and built and built. What’s been amazing is that we’ve had a back and forth and we’ve talked about watches and I’m so incredibly proud of where we’ve got with it. I feel like they’ve listened to me, which amazed me, and I’m very happy they did. This watch is the culmination of all of that. There are many things. It feels like a military watch, but it’s elegant.  I had one important thing, which was that my sleeve must be able to fall over the top of it. And it can. So you can wear it as a dress watch, but it feels like a military watch and a substantial watch. And then with the titanium, it’s as light as a feather and it’s sort of magic. I’m so proud and so happy and incredibly impressed with it. It was brought to me right at the beginning of the filming process and presented to me, and I looked at it and said, “there’s nothing I need to say, you’ve done it, this is it, it’s the James Bond watch.” So I just thank you guys so much.

MC: Daniel, James Bond is known for his innovative gadgets. If you could have one time or labour-saving gadget in your Seamaster, what would it be?

Daniel Craig: I think a laser, don’t you? I think a laser that can cut a hole in a wall. How useful is that, just for making a quick exit. You know, “I’m just off to the bathroom,” and then you can just zip off through the wall. 

MC: Daniel, what is your favourite OMEGA watch to wear in your daily life? Which one would you recommend?

Daniel Craig: I would say the recommendation would be the Moonwatch if it’s your first OMEGA. You have to take care of it because you have to wind it. So you have to look at it every day and hold it and feel it. So that’s a nice way to get a relationship with a watch. The one I wear every day? I have a few and I like swapping them around. This new one is going to be my favourite for quite a while though.

MC: Last question is for your Daniel. What do you hope people will remember about the OMEGA watches during your time as James Bond?

Daniel Craig: The watches and Bond have been so closely linked during this time. OMEGA are so important to the franchise. Partnership is the word that Raynald used and I think that’s exactly what it is. They’re married to each other.  There’s the elegance of the watch. I’m not sure if I would call myself elegant. But I would like to think that some of OMEGA’s elegance has rubbed off on me.

MC: Thank you to all of you for making this such a special night.

With the end of the press conference, the launch day is almost over. The only thing left to do is take the elevator up to the top floor of the hotel. Here we end the night with an amazing James Bond Party at the Top of the Standard, overlooking the Skyline of New York City. We like to thank Omega for their hospitality and the invite for this amazing watch launch in the US.

Read our in-depth article on the new Omega Seamaster 300M James Bond here.

Click here for an overview of all Omega Seamaster watches worn by James Bond.