James Bond and TAG Heuer: The Living Daylights

Last Updated on April 30, 2016 by Calibre 11

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 henchmanAccurately 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.

Heuer 1984 - 10


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.

Heuer Night Dive model 980.031 quartz James Bond watch, "The Living Daylights"

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.


Courtesy of Dell Deaton; jamesbondwatches.com

Catalog photo: OntheDash.com