James Bond is known for wearing sports watches like the Rolex Submariner and the Omega Seamaster with suits and black tie, but such watches should be worn only with sportswear and not with dressier outfits. The practice of wearing a sports or professional watch with a suit is common now, but just because a watch is expensive and well-made doesn’t mean it goes well with all fine clothing. For dressy outfits exists the dress watch.
A dress watch is simpler, lighter and overall more elegant than a sports or professional watch. Typically the case is thinner, the bezel is narrower, the crown is smaller and the dial is cleaner, though it can have complications. Often it has a leather (calf or exotic) strap rather than a metal bracelet. Though we remember Sean Connery’s Rolex Submariner in the four Bond films, in most of Connery’s Bond films he also occasionally wears with his suits or black tie a gold dress watch. This watch has a white or champagne dial and a black fabric strap. It may not be as iconic as the Rolex Submariner, but it goes much better with the dressier clothing. Though Connery occasionally commits the faux pas of wearing his Rolex diving watch with his suits, he only wears his Rolex once with black tie, with the white dinner jacket in Goldfinger‘s opening scene. Bond has an excuse, however, in this case: he had just been diving!
Sean Connery’s dress watch is visible in Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice. The make and model of the watch has never been positively identified. Dell Deaton of James Bond Watches believes that he has identified this watch as a Gruen Precision 510, with a sub-seconds dial and Arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9 and 12, but there are no photos that can identify the make of this watch with any certainty. This watch design was very common in the 1950s and 1960s, with it being offered by countless watchmakers throughout the world, including Rolex and Bond’s later watchmaker Omega. Other notable watchmakers such as Patek Philippe, International Watch Co. and Ulysse Nardin also made watches of this design in the 1950s and 1960s.
After Sean Connery left the role, James Bond doesn’t again wear a dress watch until Roger Moore wears a two-tone Seiko undercover as James St. John Smythe in A View to a Kill. More recently, Daniel Craig’s Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra in some scenes of Skyfall is a sports watch, but its simple style means it can work with a suit in a pinch. It’s an elegant sports watch but a little clunky as a dress watch.
I do not plan to write more on James Bond’s watches because there is already a wealth of material available written by more knowledgeable people than I.