/How Apollo 13 Helped Omega Blast Off

How Apollo 13 Helped Omega Blast Off

Broer doesn’t credit Clooney with turning the gold Speedmaster’s fortunes around, but he says more collectors are looking for these pieces now. “The gold ones are underrated,” he says. And because a gold Speedmasters can often be found for the same price as vintage steel versions, collectors are starting to give them a second look.

Keith Hamshere
Courtesy of Omega

Pierce Brosnan’s Omega Seamaster Diver 300M in Tomorrow Never Dies

Although James Bond has worn Seiko, Breitling, and Tag Heuer over the decades, the argument that rages on in the watch community is whether he is at heart a Rolex or Omega man. Sean Connery wore a Rolex as the first onscreen James Bond, but for the past 25 years 007 has worn Omega. In 1995, the international secret agent started wearing the brand’s new Seamaster model. “[The Seamaster Diver] wasn’t based on anything from their past, their archives, or their history,” says Broer. “They really came up with a new watch so that it would be very recognizable, and could not be confused with another brand.”

As for which brand truly has 007’s heart, Broer says the chemistry between Omega and James Bond is undeniable. “It’s a good fit, because Omega is a bit more innovative with their watches,” he says. “They try to put more technology into the watches and I think Omega takes bigger steps.” And if we pretend for a moment that 007 is not a fictional character, Omega is what Bond realistically would wear: the British Ministry of Defense issued the brand’s watches to its members during World War II and again in the late ‘60s.

In the ‘90s, appearing in the Bond films was a massive boon for Omega, and the partnership continues to pull in customers like a grappling hook. “Retailers tell me that since Bond’s worn Omega, they get people coming into the shop who ask for the ‘James Bond watch.’ They don’t ask for the Omega Seamaster—just the James Bond watch.”

Courtesy of Everett Collection
Courtesy of Omega

Dennis Quaid’s Omega Speedmaster in Frequency

While Broer called out Dennis Quaid’s watch in Frequency, he could have named several of the actor’s movies. The actor wore this exact watch in 1983’s The Right Stuff (as one of NASA’s first astronauts) and in 1987’s Innerspace. He wasn’t and isn’t an ambassador—just a fan of the brand, likely wearing his own watch. Broer says this movie stood out because it arrived right as he was really getting into watches. “I remember that I was in a movie theater and—boom—there was this Omega Speedmaster on the screen,” he says. The character, too, fit nicely with the watch. “He was a typical Speedmaster guy” says Broer. “Just down to earth and a bit no-nonsense.”

Courtesy of Everett Collection

David Thewlis’s Omega Chronograph in Seven Years in Tibet

In Seven Years in Tibet, Brad Pitt and David Thewlis play mountaineers held as POWs in India at the beginning of World War II. The movie follows the pair as they attempt to escape and return to Austria, a quest that requires a starving Pitt and Thewlis to trade a watch for food. The watch that kept them alive? A gold Omega chronograph. Somehow, the watch went through an equally crazy journey to end up in the film.

James M. Dowling, literally the guy who wrote the book(s) on Rolex, said in 1998 that, years earlier, he’d been approached by a props manager looking for a wide range of vintage watches to appear in a movie called Seven Years in Tibet. The film crew eventually decided on a Rolex Oyster and asked Dowling for two identical pieces to ensure they’d have a backup in case one got damaged while filming. Dowling recalls running off to the movies when the film came out. “Imagine my disappointment,” he wrote, “when Pitt shows off his GOLD OMEGA. The entire cinema turned as one to stare at me when I called out ‘SH*T.’” In Dowling’s telling, the watches he supplied were “not butch enough.”

After those pieces were ruled out, Omega was selected after the brand was allegedly spotted on a crew member’s wrist. Like those Rolex Oysters, the film’s director Jean-Jacques Annaud asked for two identical pieces. The watches from the ‘30s now sit in the Omega Museum.