Gruen caliber 510, the first James Bond movie watch

Gruen Precision 510 James Bond watch, Dr No, 1962, et cetera (original photograph, ©2013 Dell Deaton, All Rights Reserved. USA)

This is the first James Bond movie watch. Or, watchmaker, if you prefer.

Gruen was the first wristwatch chosen for James Bond during pre-production on Dr No. And it is the first watch we see on-screen, in the casino scene where Sean Connery utters his famous introduction, “Bond, James Bond.”

By all accounts this was a critically important James Bond watch choice among considerations for defining the character. During my extensive discussions with both John Cork, co-author of James Bond: The Legacy, and Ron Quelch, production buyer on Dr No, this perception was consistently reinforced.

And yet this dress watch was not, nor did it have to be “a Rolex,” as some mythologies hold. In fact, the focus of wardrobe departments of that time gave priority to the appearance a wristwatch conveyed here, as opposed to who made it.

Gruen was in-hand and fit the bill.

Additionally, the Precision caliber 510 brought out as the first James Bond movie-watch in Dr No was also common enough and still reasonably available for spares acquisition, if needed. A key criteria for any professional in the movie-making business.

According to Gruen researcher and expert Paul Schliesser, The Gruen Watch Company traces its roots to The Columbus Watch Manufacturing Company, started by Dietrich Grün in Ohio, 1876 — as detailed on his “Gruen: The Art & Mystery of Watchmaking, 1874-1958” website. In terms of technical innovation, Mr. Grün is known for having invented and patented in 1874 a safety pinion that protected pocket watch mechanisms from damage in the event of mainspring breakage.

In 1908, Gruen became one of the earliest companies to recognize the market potential for wristwatches, manufacturing models for both men and women. In 1911, it partnered with J Walter Thompson to launch its first national advertising campaign.

Author Gene Stone has since written in his book The Watch, that Gruen went on to become at one point “the country’s largest watchmaker.” And by the time it appeared on the wrist of Ian Fleming’s Agent 007, Gruen was a Swiss watch. The “Gruen” that made James Bond’s watches ceased to exist in the mid-1970s.

Dell Deaton | June 29, 2014

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