Every woman wants him, every man wants to be him, the quintessential spy, fashion icon, and tech trailblazer, Ian Flemming’s iconic character has left an indelible impression on us all. Yes, of course, we’re referring to the James Bond. Whether he’s escaping an avalanche in a bubble suit or swimming underwater with a sophisticated breathing apparatus, 007 has received the help of some pretty magnificent toys while crisscrossing the globe, shutting down criminal networks, and wooing international super models.
With a résumé like this, it presents a formidable challenge to determine the best of James Bond’s gadgets. The cars, the clothes, the watches, the guns, and the hidden cameras constitute a cornucopia of sophistication, style, and function. But within this covert ops catalog lay five gems in particular that saved the spy’s life and left us regaling ever since.
The Aston Martin DB5
Bond without Aston Martin is like waffles without syrup: it’s still a waffle, but it’s not as sweet. The British automaker’s handiwork has fueled MI6 for decades, both through unmatched power and timeless elegance. It’s easy to imagine the groans of dismay when Daniel Craig flipped his supercar in Casino Royale; the vehicles mean that much to that many people.
But no vehicle stands out quite like the legendary DB5 in Bond’s history. Manufactured in 1963, the vehicle was enshrined in our memories with the help of Oscar-winning special effects artist John Stears. While the original model was impressive in its own right, sporting a 3,995 cubic centimeter inline V6 with 282 brake horsepower at 5,500 RPM, the spy’s iteration featured a bevy of gadgets, including machine guns, a tire-shredding blade, bullet-proof rear window, passenger ejector seat, and smoke screen. Considering the going price of one million British pounds, let’s hope the real thing at least had air conditioning.
In the proud tradition of British automobiles, Lotus is not to be left out of the conversation. But the Esprit didn’t solidify its legacy with armor and weapons, instead it made waves (no pun intended) by demonstrating its terrestrial versatility. Amphibious cars have had hefty shoes to fill ever since.[youtube_sc url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsf0VRxmsp0″]
If sending a car underwater wouldn’t capture the public’s imagination, then nothing would. Opportunistic PR manager for Lotus, Don McLaughlan, made sure that Roger Moore’s next ride would be ready to dazzle in the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me. Equipped with four, cement-spraying nozzles to ward off pursuers, the true majesty of the vehicle was realized when Bond’s dive off the pier made a submersible car a reality to millions of moviegoers. In case you’re feeling adventurous, we’d recommend thinking twice before throwing your Ford Escort into the nearest body of water, or at least investing in a comprehensive insurance policy first.
But why should a man of such talent and charm settle for automobiles? The life of a spy is nothing if not adventurous, and adventurous exploits call for adventurous travel. For this reason, Sean Connery’s jetpack featured in the 1965 film Thunderball felt like the perfect addition to Bond’s arsenal. So memorable was the gadget that it received a cameo in the 2002 movie Die Another Day.
What’s most remarkable about the transport is that it worked. The Bell Rocket Belt used in the movie was a fully functional rocket pack designed for use in the army. Unfortunately, airborne soldiers were limited to a flying time of 21-22 seconds, which prohibited its inclusion in the armed forces. The device ran on hydrogen peroxide, reaching a distance of 250 meters at a speed of 55 kilometers per hour. At 125 pounds and 18 meters in elevation, it’s fair to say that Bond’s backbone was both literally and figuratively more capable than most.
Sony Ericsson JB988
We can all agree that our cellphones are pretty cool. In addition to giving us ready access to the greatest body of information ever conceived, we can play Candy Crush Saga and talk to friends. But their ubiquity makes one wonder why a Bond cellphone would make the list. Unlike our current Siri powered, email checking, game playing pocket computers, the JB988 had the distinct privilege of being Bond’s first cellphone.
But unlike most of our first mobile phones that were either uselessly large or painfully basic, Brosnan’s version had some handy tricks in store. The device allowed the super spy to pick locks, scan fingerprints, and remote control his equally advanced BMW 750iL. And if that didn’t get the job done, the 20,000 volts of electricity would surely do the talking. In addition to being the most advanced cellphones on the market back in 1997, it had the distinct honor of being one of the only Sony Ericsson devices ever purchased.
OMEGA Seamaster Quartz Professional 300M
But before James had the luxury of a time telling communication device, the resourceful intelligence operative utilized one of man’s greatest achievements: the watch. But not just any watch would do. A man of style and refinement needs a special edition OMEGA capable of some truly incredible feats. With watchmaking experience dating back to the 19th century and looks that could kill, the high-end brand of watch would become a trusty companion in every film from 1995 onward.
But its first appearance in Goldeneye had to make an impression. After all, not just any watch would do for a series graced by the classic good looks of Pierce Brosnan and Roger Moore. Both Bond and arch-nemesis Alec Trevelyan would wear gorgeous editions of the Seamaster that, in addition to arresting the attention of fashion conscious viewers, would also double as a detonator at a key moment in the movie. And if that wasn’t memorable enough, the built-in laser on the bezel that facilitated a quick escape surely made the brand a staple in the minds of devotees.
And with each passing James Bond gadget, MI6’s finest continues to stretch our imaginations with unforgettable moments, creative technology, and timeless class. The DB5 and Esprit became icons of their era while the Jetpack in Thunderball became one of the primary attractions of the film. The JB988 cell phone and OMEGA Seamaster confirmed to audiences and enemies alike that Bond was a man on the go with only the finest in tools to get the job done. As the creative minds of the Bond franchise continue to cook up tomorrow’s tech toys, who knows what Bond exclusive will shape our perception of cool in the years to come.