Although Q’s gadgets were the envy of every red-blooded male, Ian Fleming’s novels reveal a more discerning James Bond. Lee Gale, archivist at GQ Branch, compiles a gadget dossier
GQ The Real James Bond supplement, 2013
In attempting to gain evidence of ginger-haired, 5’0” metallurgist Auric Goldfinger cheating at cards in Fleming’s seventh novel, Bond relies on the sharp focus of a Leica M3 rangefinder camera. With its silky smooth mechanics, it was the favoured piece for many photojournalists, including Henri Cartier-Bresson (a modern Bond would undoubtedly use the Leica M9). On the big screen, George Lazenby’s Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service uses the subminiature Minox A/IIIs to capture the interior of Blofeld’s lair. At 82x28x16mm, it was the favoured tool of real spies.
A letter from firearms expert Geoffrey Boothroyd to Ian Fleming in 1956 pointed out that the .25 Beretta 418, Bond’s pistol from Casino Royale to From Russia With Love was “a lady’s gun – and not a very nice lady at that!” Boothroyd suggested Bond be armed with a Walther PPK. Fleming quickly agreed. First released in 1931, the PPK – Polizeipistole Kriminalmodell – was the gun that Adolf Hitler used to kill himself in 1945. From 1956, the PPK was ever-present in Fleming’s Bond books, while in the films, Bond still uses this gun. NB: the long-barrelled Walther LP53, seen in James Bond promo posters, has never been used in any of the stories.
One of the few items that the books and films agree on is Bond’s choice of golf ball – the Penfold Heart. After Bond counter-cheated Goldfinger at Royal St Marks in the film, sales at the Birmingham-based golf equipment firm soared. In 2008, Bond’s ball of choice was relaunched to celebrate Fleming’s 100th birthday. It’s still available in limited edition sets of 12 balls.
When your day job involves an inordinate amount of countdowns that could ultimately lead to your grisly demise, a watch needs unfailing accuracy. Apart from a mention of a Rolex Oyster Perpetual in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Fleming barely alludes to timepieces. Bond may have also worn a Submariner, as it was Fleming’s suggestion that Connery should sport a Rolex in the Dr No film. Rolex refused to supply the production crew with a watch, so Connery wore Cubby Broccoli’s own Submariner Ref 6538 with a crocodile strap. Dating from 1956, it was stupendously beautiful.
Made in Japan
Roger Moore’s Hanna Barbera-like 007 was a slave to gadget-crammed Seiko digital watches, featuring such useful devices as a printer (0674 LC; The Spy Who Loved Me), explosives (M354 Memory-Bank Calendar; Moonraker) and tracking devices (G757 5020 Sports 100; Octopussy). The latter has become the most desirable digital watch ever made, fetching £750. Such tasteless tat would have been frowned on by modern 007s. Since GoldenEye, Bond has worn a variety of no-nonsense Omega Seamasters.
Universal Exports: car pool
It always seemed faintly ridiculous that in Miami Vice, a pair of neon-lit cops should gallivant about in a Ferrari Testarossa, yet Britain has been supplying law enforcers with extravagant fleet cars since 1964 when, in the Goldfinger film, a delighted James Bond was presented with an Aston Martin DB5 – Sean Connery in vehicle form. In the 1959 novel, MI6 issued Bond with a DB Mk III which, in Brittany, is involved in a nose-to-tail tinkle with Tilly Masterson’s Triumph TR3. “If you touch me there again, you’ll have to marry me,” Bond smirks.
The Saab who loved me
In John Gardner’s Eighties 007 novels, Bond owns a 170mph Saab 900 Turbo, with extras including a digital head-up display, a hidden compartment holding TH70 Nitefinder goggles and even a mobile phone. In Carte Blanche, Jeffery Deaver’s 2011 Bond escapade, 007 drives the more stately, but quicker (197mph), Bentley Continental GT.
In Ian Fleming’s early novels, 007 owns a 1930 4.5-litre Blower Bentley, with an Amherst Villiers Supercharger. Unlike a turbo that is powered by exhaust, the “blower” is fed from the engine, meaning there’s no delay in oomph. Bond’s grey Bentley falls foul of Sir Hugo Drax in Moonraker. At Charing Hill in Kent, Bond collides with 14 tons of loosened newsprint drums from the back of an AEC lorry and almost makes the obits.