Hamilton Pulsar LED James Bond watch

Hamilton Pulsar P2 2900 James Bond watch, Live and Let Die, 1973 (original photograph, ©2009 Dell Deaton, All Rights Reserved. USA)

James Bond was among the very first participants in the quartz revolution, with a Hamilton Pulsar on his wrist. As author Pieter Doensen records it in Watch: History of the Modern Wristwatch, Seiko released the first commercial quartz watch to the world in January of 1970. Then, on May 6, 1970:

Hamilton Watch Company, Lancaster Pennsylvania USA, shows the international press prototypes of the first fully electronic wrist watch in the world: the Pulsar Time Computer …. [In 1971] production starts with a limited series in 18 carat gold at a price of US $ 1500. The Pulsars go on sale just before Christmas.

Well-known persons associated with the Pulsar watch include United States President Gerald R Ford, Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, singer Sammy Davis Jr, and Roger Moore for his debut as James Bond in 1973.

Yeah, okay— but was the James Bond Pulsar a Hamilton wristwatch?

Credit rolls closing the movie Live and Let Die, and “The Producers gratefully acknowledge, the assistance and co-operation of …” with reference to “Pulsar,® The Time Computer.®” (a line that reads like some lawyer wanted a whole lot of say on this particular product placement). No mention of Hamilton.

In a 2010 page on the Old Pulsars website, Dennis Klein delineates what he characterizes as the “confusion” surrounding Hamilton as Pulsar watchmaker. For that matter, is it even correct to call James Bond’s Pulsar wrist-computer a “watch”?

Based on my own background in corporate structuring and intellectual property work, I am saying here that the James Bond’s Pulsar is a wristwatch, and Hamilton is its watchmaker. Regardless of marketing labels. Whether through “HMW Industries,” “Pulsar Division,” or “Time Computer Inc,” division or subsidiary, we are still ultimately talking Hamilton.

In 1978, the brand name “Pulsar” was acquired by Seiko, as Pieter Doensen notes in Watch. Hence the name “Pulsomatic” when Hamilton introduced a contemporary watch rooted in this legacy.

The Hamilton corporate website dates its founding to 1892 and notes achievement of having earned “the title of ‘The watch of Railroad accuracy.’” Hamilton made its first formal movie-watch appearance in The Frogmen, 1951, and in 1961, rock-and-roll icon Elvis Presley wore his art-deco-styled Hamilton Ventura for the movie Blue Hawaii.

Hamilton Watch Company was originally based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania — the town in which the National Watch & Clock Museum is housed.

Today, Hamilton is “A Company of the Swatch Group (US ) Inc,” headquartered in Switzerland.

Dell Deaton | July 29, 2014

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