The James Bond product placement deal between EON Productions and Seiko UK was nothing short of brilliant.
In the mid-1970s, Seiko was both rolling out still-evolving quartz technology and seeking to increase worldwide market share as a watchmaker. Who can imagine better marketing than to have James Bond depend upon “Made in Japan” Seiko watches? Then to do so again.
Early product placements in The Spy Who Love Me and Moonraker helped establish nascent digital displays against potentially incongruent, ingrained consumer time-keeping references such as “clockwise” and “quarter-past.” Raised the bar on public expectations and demand for accuracy.
From there, Seiko UK went on to showcase its even broader range of capabilities. In For Your Eyes Only (1981) Seiko UK equipped James Bond with a titanium Seiko Professional Diver’s watch for his salvage work on the St George’s wreck. You couldn’t create a more compelling commercial.
In 2009, I completed original research that first identified all watch models supplied by Seiko UK to the EON Productions for its James Bond movies. My consequent definitive list of James Bond watches was developed through both document review and exclusive interviews with Mark Mills, FBHI, Technical Support Manager with Seiko UK that I personally conducted. Revolution magazine published a feature article on these findings, with highlights on each of the Seiko UK James Bond watches.
There are a number of wonderful collateral, print advertising, and point-of-purchase materials that came of the Seiko product placement with James Bond movies. But these shouldn’t be taken as authoritative when tying specific wristwatch models to particular films; there are discrepancies.
According to its website, Seiko UK was established in 1971 of what is today known as Seiko Holdings Corporation of Tokyo, Japan. For its 2013 fiscal year (ended March 2014), Seiko Holdings reported overall corporate net sales of 308.2 billion yen.
Looking at the various entities and company structure that we have seen intersect with James Bond’s watches, I note the following on the Seiko corporate website.
Kintaro Hattori established K. Hittori & Co, Ltd, predecessor of Seiko Holdings, in 1881. In 1937, watch production was split off as Daini Seikosha, today known as Seiko Instruments. In 1959, Suwa Factory of Daini Seikosha was made independent as Suwa Seikosha — predecessor of what is today Seiko Epson Corporation. In 1978, Seiko acquired the brand name “Pulsar,” as noted by researcher Pieter Doensen in Watch.
The “watch business” of Seiko Holdings Corporation accounted for net sales of 150.7 billion yen in fiscal year 2013.
Dell Deaton | July 15, 2014