• Pop Culture auction at Christies

    Sale 9467

    Pop Culture

    26 June 2013, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 49

    Thunderball, 1965

    Price Realised  


    Thunderball, 1965
    James Bond's specially modified Breitling Top Time wristwatch used in Thunderball, 1965, the watch composed of a stainless steel chronograph timepiece, by Breitling, Ref. 2002, case no. 984343, manufactured in 1962 and then modified, the black dial with applied baton hour markers, luminous hands, sweep centre seconds, two subsidiary dials for constant seconds and 45 minute registers, and outer silvered tachymeter scale, in circular case with two chronograph buttons in the band, case 35mm wide, case and dial signed, mounted in glazed water resistant type case with screw down bezel and case reverse, by Valley Tool Company, 47mm wide, signed V.T.C., made for Sean Connery as James Bond in the 1965 United Artists/EON Productions film Thunderball

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    The first ever specially modified watch issued by 'Q' branch to James Bond, the timepiece was equipped with a 'Geiger-counter' to detect radiation. Equipping Bond 'in the field' in Nassau for his mission to find two NATO atomic bombs stolen by SPECTRE, Q explains here we have a Geiger counter, useful and unobstructive, the sweep hand takes the radioactive count, it's waterproof of course, to which Bond sarcastically responds, but of course. Besides the Rolex Submariner, the Breitling Top Time is the only other model of watch that Sean Connery wears as James Bond.

    Bond is seen wearing the watch during various scenes in the film, using it to search for the location of the atomic bombs stolen by SPECTRE under the direction of their 'No. 2' Emilio Largo. He first uses it during a nightime underwater dive beneath Largo's boat, the Disco Volante, to check if the bombs are hidden on board. He later checks the watch for a radioactive count at Palmyra, Largo's Nassau estate, and again when he sneaks on to the Disco Volante disguised as one of Largo's henchmen.

    The Bond art department commissioned Valley Tool Company to create a bespoke underwater 'Geiger counter' case with glazed bezel for the Breitling timepiece. There was only one of these watches made for the film, making this particular Bond gadget totally unique. Lost since filming, this watch has only recently been rediscovered.

    One of the exceedingly rare timepieces modified to be used in a film, and the first ever modified by 'Q' branch in any Bond film, the present lot must be considered a rare and unique trophy for the Bond collector and the watch aficionado alike.

    Christie's would like to thank Meg Simmonds and Peter Lamont for their assistance in cataloguing this lot.


    PFEIFFER, Lee and WORRALL, Dave, The Essential Bond, New York: Harper Collins, 1998, p. 53

    Post Lot Text

    © Allstar/United Artists, 1965