James Bond and TAG Heuer: The Living Daylights

Posted by: David Chalmers   |   3 April 2010   |   18 Comments  

While today you might associate James Bond with Omega watches, here is something you may not know: Before Bond strapped on his Seamaster, he wore a TAG Heuer diver in the 1987 James Bond film The Living Daylights.

This is the first time that Heuer/ TAG Heuer has been identified as being part of the rich legacy of watches worn by 007.

In fact it has taken Dell Deaton, a Bond aficionado who runs the website jamesbondwatches.com, more than two years to name the Heuer/ TAG Heuer 980.031 dive watch as being the watch worn by Bond as he attempts to dispose of yet another evil henchman.

Accurately identifying watches worn in older movies can be incredibly challenging, especially when sometimes all that’s available is a few seconds of blurry footage. Today life is easier, with watch companies lining up to tout their association with blockbuster films, but this hasn’t always been the case.

So armed only with 10 seconds of footage (see below for an example of the scene from the film) and without any official comment/ help from the film’s producers, Dell set about the process of elimination to uncover the most likely watch worn by Bond.

He quickly narrowed the number of companies offering a glow-dial diver watch with a PVD finish in the mid-1980s to one: Heuer/ TAG Heuer.

This is where Calibre 11 comes in. Together with Paul Gavin, our role was to assist Dell in going through the catalogue of Heuer and TAG Heuer diver watches to identify the most likely contenders.

Paul Gavin is an English collector and long-time contributor at OnTheDash with a fantastic knowledge of vintage Heuer watches and especially the Diver watches. Paul has just launched his own vintage Heuer website, Heuer World (http://www.heuerworld.com), where he showcases his collection of beautiful Heuer watches with some of the best photos you will see anywhere on the web.

Paul and I concluded that there really was only one model that fitted all the known information: the 980.031, a mid-size PVD dive watch sold as both the TAG Heuer 1000 Professional and the Heuer 1000. Throughout its life there were several subtle variations in this model- including logo (TAG Heuer vs. Heuer), the use of white vs. black date windows and filled vs. unfilled hour markers.

There was also the existence of the 980.031.60 to consider, a variation of the TAG Heuer 1000 Professional with a countdown bezel on the right that we were able to eliminate as a possibility.

What is impossible to tell is whether the Bond watch is likely to be a Heuer or a TAG Heuer- The Living Daylights began production in 1986, just after the time that TAG had purchased Heuer. This meant that for a period of time there were both TAG Heuer and Heuer versions of the same watches still being sold.

Having identified the watch, the next step was to find an example of the 980.031 for the exhibition of James Bond watches that will run at the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors in the US from June 2010 to May 2011.We had early success on eBay with the watch that you see above- a beautifully aged example of the TAG Heuer 980.031.

While this was an early victory, the hunt continued for a Heuer example, and preferably one in mint condition. We were able to find a NOS example thanks to the efforts of the vintage Heuer community. David DeVos came to the rescue and through his contacts was able to track down this unused Heuer 980.031, which looks magnificent and is in perfect “museum” quality.

How confident are we that the watch worn by Timothy Dalton is the Heuer/ TAG Heuer 980.031? Dell puts his confidence level at around 80%, which seems about as certain as one can ever be without official confirmation from either the Producers or TAG Heuer. I did ask TAG Heuer about the James Bond story, and while they were unable to officially confirm the connection, they did confirm that they were aware of the James Bond/ TAG Heuer reports and did not dismiss them.

There is a lot more to this story that both James Bond and TAG Heuer fans will enjoy reading about more over at Dell’s website, which you can find here. Dell has published Part 1 today which focuses on the identity of the PVD diver, while Part 2 will include some news about other Heuer/ TAG Heuer watches used in the same movie. In fact, it is the presence of other TAG Heuer watches in the film that make us even more confident that we’ve identified the diver watch correctly.

Dell should be congratulated on his two years of hard work and perseverance in not only filling in missing information for James Bond fans, but also helping uncover another interesting chapter in the history of Heuer and TAG Heuer.

Photos:

Courtesy of Dell Deaton; jamesbondwatches.com

Catalog photo: OntheDash.com


Home » 1000 Series, Diver Watches, PVD
  • http://www.jamesbondwatches.com Dell Deaton, JamesBo

    Just wanted to weigh-in here briefly to say again (and a bit more formally) what an absolute pleasure it has been to work with you and Paul on this exciting James Bond watch story. More than "some movie watch," I think it represents the best in horological research. Indeed, some of the most historically important wristwatches being researched today aren't going to have a producer's call sheet to fall back on for identification. Thus, beyond Bond, I hope this helps all sorts of other efforts. Thanks, too, to David DeVos for his patient dedication to getting me hooked up with what has to be one of the very few mint, if not NOS, Heuer 980.031 Professional Night-Diver watches still around. Look forward to seeing that on display at the National Watch & Clock Museum in Pennsylvania this June when the year-long "Bond Watches, James Bond Watches" exhibit opens to to the public.

  • http://www.classicheuers.blogspot.com Jarl Rehn-Erichsen

    This is very interesting. It's cool that we now got a Bond-Heuer. The downside is that we very soon will se silly prices for these divers on Ebay.

    Is it possible to find out if he used a Heuer or a Tag Heuer?

    Best regards

    Jarl
    http://www.classicheuers.blogspot.com

  • DC

    Thanks Dell- pleased that we were able to help you out- and yes, David did a great job to track down that diver. I'd be stunned if there was a better one anywhere in private hands.

    Jarl, agree with you that prices for the 1000 are due for an increase…much more than just a weekend beater

    TAG Heuer vs. Heuer? My guess- and its only that- would be Heuer. Why? Take a look at Dell's second article at his website today, and you see that we found other Heuer/ TAG Heuer watches in the movie, including the Airline (available as both a TAG Heuer and a Heuer) and a Regatta- only available as a Heuer.

    So, if we have at least one Heuer in the movie, then perhaps they are all from the same time period and therefore with the same logos.

    Cheers

    David

    P.S Jarl, Jack Heuer really enjoyed your photo of the Heuer 844

  • http://www.heuerworld.com Paul Gavin

    Hi DC – great to see the write up on the Bond watches after all this time. It was a real pleasure and lots of fun playing watch detective and colaborating with you and Dell. Thanks for the the kind words and intro to my web site.

    regards

    Paul

  • beata

    hi everyone,

    I am a lucky person to own one of these watches, exactly the same as picture 980.031, mine is serial nr 981.115 :), but it needs a service now. I swapped it on a watch market event. good day!

  • DC

    Nice find Beata- did you seek it out because of the Bond connection, or just did you find out about the link after you'd bought it?

    Cheers

    David

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  • Cliff

    Hi all, just bought an 980 031N tag night diver 1000 beautiful watch, I have had a lot of watch,s in my time, but by far this watch is a little stunner for a 38 mm. . As bond would say..shaken and stirred , with it.

    • http://www.calibre11.com David Chalmers

      Nice Cliff- these are getting very hard to find…where did you get yours?

      • cliff

        Hi David, I purchased the watch from a friend, and for a 26yr old watch' its a treat to wear, even thou its a 38mm.
        I will send you a picture of it.
        Kind regards cliff

  • Aad van der Well

    Hi David

    I too own one Heuer 980. 031 Black divingwatch and i was not aware of the interesting story that it was used in a James Bond movie.

    I found it in Breda at a watchshop and still like it very much.

    So i very much enjoyed all the written comments about the watch!

    Greetings

    Aad

    Terheijden

    The Netherlands

  • http://www.calibre11.com David Chalmers

    Hi Aad,

    Thanks for the comments- and congrats on your purchase. I love the lume-dial 1000 series…a really distinctive model.

    dc

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  • A J

    I would love to get one of those how much would a Heuer version (not the 1000) fetch for approximately, Ive been looking for one for a while are they rare?

  • atheeq

    hello there ppl where can i find this watch as in which store where TAG Heuer 980.031 James Bond watch

  • drog1998

    i’ve just seen this 980.031 for sale on ebay. What are people thoughts?

    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/121418020399?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

    to me the finish looks like it might of been resprayed.

    • calibre11

      Could be..I’d want to see a couple more photos (the fact that they haven’t shown the case up close would make me suspicious too…)

      dc