Original Screen-used THUNDERBALL Geigher counter watch found!!!!!

thespyboys11thespyboys11 Lindenwold,NJPosts: 1,845MI6 Agent
Yes, you read that correctly….THE original, screen-worn Breitling Top Time Geiger counter watch worn by Sean Connery in “Thunderball” has surfaced!!!!!!

I’ll let my good friend, Brian, tell you the story of how he was instrumental in this discovery.
I am privileged to have been marginally connected to this AMAZING find.

This posting on AJB is the first time this information is being revealed. I also want to thank our very own Pete Harrison for his assistance.

---Ed Maggiani


As some might remember, I had posted a thread about recreating the Geiger counter watch from Thunderball. Have no fear, this is going to be a reality…and sooner rather then later.

As I may have mentioned, this prop absolutely gripped me as a child. I am not sure what it was about it all, but I simply LOVED the watch given to Bond by Q-Branch. I guess I've always been a big watch fan and this, being the first gadget watch ever given to Bond, holds a place in my heart. It also doesn’t hurt that the prop was based off of the very wonderful Breitling Top Time ref. 2002. A star in its own right. In the end, I wanted to try and create something for this community. Something that has not been done before and that others would potentially cherish as much as I will.

So, I plugged away at drawing after drawing, trying to get my prop as perfect as it could be. Never just saying its good enough. I wanted it to be perfect in every aspect. Very quickly I discovered what really goes into trying to recreate something…especially something that has never been seen since filming AND can only be viewed through a few screen grabs from the film. There was more to this then a simple case. How did the designers originally do it? Was the entire Breitling placed inside? Were just the guts swapped over? These are the things that kept me ever thinking. And kept me drawing and redrawing. I had finally come up with a theory about how it was all done. I needed to convince myself of it before I went mad!

That all changed on November 2nd of last year. I hadn't been on my Geiger thread is some time and, maybe a sort of Bond-like sense told me to check. Well, right there, smack at the end was a post from a gentleman stating he thinks he may have just stumbled into the original prop used in the movie!! I was so excited I could barely contain myself. Even if it wasn’t, this would be a great opportunity to see how someone else thought to solve the MANY problems that I had been running into. I sent the user a private message and waited (extremely anxiously) for a reply.

Martin replied back almost instantly and this is the exact moment that this little "project' of mine turned into something a bit more. This, to me, has no turned into one of the great Bond-find (note, not barn-find. Haha) stories going.

Martin was amazing right from the start. He told of how he recently came into procession of this watch. Bought from a fellow who got it from a fellow who worked at Pinewood Studios. The man he bought it from was still in the area. When he was offered this unique item, he had no idea what it was worth or any of its significance. For pricing he had a very simple equation. Take the price of Top Time, add a bit for the (possible) Bond connection and take some off for a few minor things. Seemed to work well for him. He was searching the internet trying to find any info about the watch and its history and came up with my thread on the build. As anyone knows who have tried to look into this particular prop knows, there really isn''t much out there. He idea was to post the watch for sale on eBay the next week to help add some funds for a surprise 25th anniversary for his wife. Admittedly, my first thoughts turned to snatching this up myself but I knew that wasn’t in the cards for me. I just hated the idea of it going to someone that didn’t REALLY understand what they might be getting. I pleaded with him to hang onto it for a little so that we could try and find more out about it and to see, if in fact, this was THE actual prop used in the film and worn by the BOND of Bonds. It didn’t take long to convince him as he truly believed in his heart of hearts that it was genuine. Being the amazing guy Martin is, he also agreed to provide me with anything I needed to help get my project finished. Even went out and bought a pair of calipers to help me with measurements. Did I say Martin was a fine gentleman? Haha. Well, I am a giant Bond fan but I can not hold a candle to most of you on this forum. I knew I needed to get in touch with some who really knows their stuff. Someone that also shares a passion for Thunderball:-) That man was Ed Maggiani of course! I will leave it to Ed to tell his part in this story but I can safely say that without him, and his world of knowledge on EVERYTHING Bond, we would not be where we are today.

So, where are we today you ask? Well we are now 100% certain that this is THE genuine prop designed, build and used in the filming of Thunderball. It is the only one ever created and was THE item worn by Sean Connery during the filming of this wonderful movie. Absolutely amazing!! Ed and I were like two school children when we found out the definitive news. It took a lot of back and worth and trips here and there. Even some people trying to make a quick sale buy flashing some big numbers at Martin. Martin held on and thank goodness. It would have killed me to have this potentially go back underground without getting to the bottom of it all.

For me, this ticks every box possible. For starters, to have actually been a part of this great find is just spectacular. I can almost imagine what is like to be a paleontologist on the verge of discovering a new, never seen species of dinosaur. I know all three of us where on the edges of our preverbal seats during this entire process. It also gave me the rare opportunity to see just how the original designers actually did it. Much to my surprise, I was very much on the right track, with one thing that totally blew me away. I will let the pictures do the talking on that.

I mentioned it was an interesting journey. Here’s one instance. While in the middle of trying to get to the bottom of it all, Martin was approached by a potential buyer. Remember, we hadnt yet discovered if this one 100% genuine. The buyer brought a few people to look the watch over. They turned to Martin almost instantly and made him an offer. It was an amazing offer (several times more then he had paid) and it would have been so easy to take the money and run. When Martin told me of this offer I had to remind him that that was an offer on an item that we have no proof of its originality. It was a very, very large number for something like that…unless they know something we don’t. Also, it isn’t as if there is another of these floating around that they buyer could go and buy instead. Martin agreed and that ended that.

It was Ed's connections within Eon that cracked the case on this one. After we found out, Martin was ecstatic and wanted to have the Breitling serviced and checked. He rang Breitling UK and told him the story. It all seemed rather "business as usual" while on the phone. He set up an appointment. When he got there, things were a bit different. The head of Breitling UK was standing at the door, hand extended. Behind him were no less then 6 technicians in white coats and all wearing matching white smiles. Martin was not allowed back into the "lab" but there is a large glass wall that allows you to observe. He said the techs were all hovered over the watch, watching pictures and discussing. Needless to say, it made quite a hit. When they were finished, they each came out to shake Martins hand and thank him for the opportunity to see this amazing relic. The head of Breitling had stepped away for some time and Martin thought he was off doing his day to day business. He caught Martin as he was leaving, winded slightly from running. He had stepped away to contact Breitling HQ. After a lengthy enough conversation, he expressed Breitlings extreme interest in the watch. They wanted to make an offer on it!

Stephen Lane, CEO of Propstore, Tim Lawes and two other colleagues were brought in to examine the watch.

Here is wehat Tim had to say regarding their meeting….

“The watch is a very exciting item indeed and it was a pleasure to have inspected it in person. We were invited to the meeting at the request of Martin, the owner of the watch via a friend who is a Bond connoisseur. I understand we were the first prop specialists to see the watch.

Just to clarify and add detail on the opening post above. There were 4 of us at the meeting and we had a long discussion about the processes of authenticating such an item.

Martin was very pleased with our assistance, our method and information we were able to provide. We even had pretty good evidence at the meeting of potential screen matches . We also identified a number of “tells” that would have been impossible to replicate without having the original in hand. We were in little doubt that the watch was original and made that fact quite clear before the meeting was over.

Martin was very interested in the procedure of authentication as this was a new territory for him. We advised him on the next steps to take. Initially, we suggested that he might have the watch disassembled professionally to get access to the serial number and that number should then be submitted to Breitling for them to confirm that it predated the production of the film and to see if Breitling might be able to add any other reference for it. We already have a contact at Breitling and offered to assist if needed. Martin is an experienced watch collector and this element of the project was something he was able to take care of himself.

The watch is a fantastic and exciting piece of Bond history and we just wanted to make clear our involvement in the process and the thrill of seeing it in person.”

Christies and Meg Simmons, the Archivist of Bond props at EON, were contacted. She stopped by to examine the watch. Peter Lamont was also there and he confirmed that the initials engraved on the rear of the watch stood for the Tool Company who made the casing and that there was only one made.

The watch is currently with Christies, who are very excited to have it and it will be in their Pop auction.

UPDATE from Christies:
The catalog will be distributed around 26th of May, four weeks before the sale date.
The watch was photographed as a 3d image and will available to view on the online catalogue which will become available around the same time. Breitling have shown an interest in bidding.


Quite a story to be sure. To have all the events fall into place has been an amazing journey and the result of locating the original watch is nothing short of spectacular!!

Below are just a few photos of the watch. Unfortunately, no other photos can be shown at this time so as to not reveal certain aspects that could lead to duplication.
---Ed

007-TB_BreitlingTopTime-RealProp2_zps9ce8b785.jpg

007-TB_BreitlingTopTime-RealProp21_zps3ddbc42c.jpg

007-TB_BreitlingTopTime-RealProp7_zps04a07c49.jpg
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Comments

  • The Bond ExperienceThe Bond Experience Newtown, PAPosts: 5,490Quartermasters
    Amazing story! So, I take it there will be a potential run of these in the future?
  • Gadget MeisterGadget Meister Bicester, OxonPosts: 1,972MI6 Agent
    edited May 2013
    Fantastic story, this is what makes our hobby worthwhile. Yet again Ed is at the forefront leading the way. Now must order my next Christies catalogue.

    Well done to all involved. {[]

    Immediately in on a run.

    Are we sure the auction isn't on 26th June? Only one I could find, nothing on the 13th (now corrected by Ed -{ )
  • ACACIA_AVENUEACACIA_AVENUE UKPosts: 1,774MI6 Agent
    WOW....fantastic post.
    That watch had always been a fascination to me.
    Well done -{
    One of us smells like a tart's handkerchief.
  • minigeffminigeff EnglandPosts: 7,884MI6 Agent
    That's some pretty cool stuff, yet again AJB leads the way!

    Well done to all involved for having the passion, drive and friendship to help each other and bring something truly unique to the table.

    Nice one!

    MG-{
    'Force feeding AJB humour and banter since 2009'
    Vive le droit à la libre expression! Je suis Charlie!
    www.helpforheroes.org.uk
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  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,792MI6 Agent
    Agreed, Fantastic story. -{ well done.
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • bondpropfanbondpropfan Southern UKPosts: 288MI6 Agent
    Great treasure story and further benefits to come if licensed to make them..
    Amazing for someone, both seller and buyer.

    I wonder if any other 'holy grail' props will be discovered by unknowing lucky people
  • welshboy78welshboy78 Posts: 10,292MI6 Agent
    Superb story!!!!

    So just to clarify - your friend Martin is still the owner and didn't sell Breitling the watch??

    I guess EON were not too miffed about how the watch ended up out of their archive (im guessing the watch disappeared after Thunderball wrapped up)
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  • thespyboys11thespyboys11 Lindenwold,NJPosts: 1,845MI6 Agent
    Are we sure the auction isn't on 26th June? Only one I could find, nothing on the 13th.

    Yes, I was given the wrong date...now corrected ...it IS on auction 26th of June.
  • thespyboys11thespyboys11 Lindenwold,NJPosts: 1,845MI6 Agent
    welshboy78 wrote:
    So just to clarify - your friend Martin is still the owner and didn't sell Breitling the watch??

    Martin owns the watch but it is up for auction through Christies
  • Gadget MeisterGadget Meister Bicester, OxonPosts: 1,972MI6 Agent
    So what are the odds it will be back in Meg's hands on the 27th June. I can see an EON/Breitling bidding war breaking out here, may have to take the day off work to watch this ( and to admire the delightful Nicolette @ Christies as well of course) :x
  • 66cooper66cooper Posts: 71MI6 Agent
    edited May 2013
    Thanks to all the kind words. It has been a real dream come true. To have worked to long and hard on something and then have this happen, its what dreams on made of for sure.

    Ed and I talked today on the phone and by the time we hung up, we both were as excited as we were when we first got into this. Its just so damn amazing!! To find such a piece of Bond history AND for that piece to be your personal, all-time favorite prop. Brilliant!
  • Donald GrantDonald Grant U.S.A.Posts: 2,241Quartermasters
    Yes it is a great story, and it was hard to keep mum about it. Ed let me in on the details some time ago and there was a proposed meeting to see the watch in person last month. Unfortunately it was shelved. I was dying to touch it. But glad to know that the details of how the prop was made has finally been unearthed. The way it was put together is very close to how I imagined, apart from a couple of details. Great stuff, and great work guys, all of you!

    DG
    So, what sharp little eyes you've got...wait till you get to my teeth.
    image_zps6a725e59.jpg
    "People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." Richard Grenier after George Orwell, Washington Times 1993.
  • HigginsHiggins GermanyPosts: 16,618MI6 Agent
    projects like this can only be found on AJB!

    Great work, Ed and we are looking forwards to see what you are doing of it! {[]
    Have put a Breitling Top Timer on my ebay search list now :D


    I am looking forwards to a financial slaughtfest between EON and Breitling now :D
    President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.

    Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!
  • HigginsHiggins GermanyPosts: 16,618MI6 Agent
    btw, I wonder what that drilled hole on the top case was for.
    President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.

    Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!
  • VoituerVoituer Posts: 483MI6 Agent
    Amazing find - what a great piece of 007 history and certainly should be in a museum, I would say a watch one rather than a Bond one.

    check your drawers everyone, you never know what is lurking under those socks :))

    I hope it is a true one as it reads like the lead up to a fake looking to be passed off as the real thing ;) Over egging the omelette? :)) It is potentially a $50,000 watch (maybe more) -{

    now I'm sure at the back of my neighbours garage I saw a white Lotus with fins wher there should have been wheels!
  • VoituerVoituer Posts: 483MI6 Agent
    sorry after reading my post it read like I was trying to bash your find Ed - not the case but as amused by the drama of your post :)

    Good luck with this one and I know you will have measured it and will be machining as I type :))

    Supersonic find bud
  • ppw3o6rppw3o6r Great BritainPosts: 2,271MI6 Agent
    FANTASTIC! Congrats to all involved in this amazing discovery....and Ed's long right arm! :D -{
  • thespyboys11thespyboys11 Lindenwold,NJPosts: 1,845MI6 Agent
    Hey!!! It took a VERY LOOOOOOOONG arm to reach all the way over the "Pond" and locate that watch.

    Actually, all the credit goes to Brian. He was the "Indiana Jones" on this adventure.

    I agree the writeup does sound like the ones we're used to seeing about something that someone claims to be real and then we are all disappointed to find out it was just a well concocted story. However, this time...it's all true and what better verification and confirmation could we ask for than from Peter Lamont & Meg?????
  • thespyboys11thespyboys11 Lindenwold,NJPosts: 1,845MI6 Agent
    Bondtoys wrote:
    btw, I wonder what that drilled hole on the top case was for.

    I asked about that and there is no definitive answer. The hole goes nowhere. it just stops after a short distance.

    Brian thought it was perhaps (for the film) an access hole that something plugged into to activate te geigher counter function.

    I used to think it was an access hole that a rod would insert into to "pop-out" the Breitling from the intterior machined case...it wasn't. As I said, the hole goes nowhere.
    It may have just been a mistake when it was machined.
  • Remmert007Remmert007 Posts: 232MI6 Agent
    Amazing, guys! Just amazing! Well done indeed, what an adventure!
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  • thespyboys11thespyboys11 Lindenwold,NJPosts: 1,845MI6 Agent
    Update to auction date added to post #1
  • Donald GrantDonald Grant U.S.A.Posts: 2,241Quartermasters
    Bondtoys wrote:
    btw, I wonder what that drilled hole on the top case was for.

    I asked about that and there is no definitive answer. The hole goes nowhere. it just stops after a short distance.

    Brian thought it was perhaps (for the film) an access hole that something plugged into to activate te geigher counter function.

    I used to think it was an access hole that a rod would insert into to "pop-out" the Breitling from the intterior machined case...it wasn't. As I said, the hole goes nowhere.
    It may have just been a mistake when it was machined.

    Yes, this was one of my first questions too. You do see this hole in Thunderball. However, it always looked like a ding to me on screen. I had always wondered what caused it to be there. But with the actual prop, it is clear that it was machined there.

    DG
    So, what sharp little eyes you've got...wait till you get to my teeth.
    image_zps6a725e59.jpg
    "People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." Richard Grenier after George Orwell, Washington Times 1993.
  • 66cooper66cooper Posts: 71MI6 Agent
    The hole is very much in the film. It is something that has kept me thinking all this time.

    My original thoughts was that is was simple a hole to give the appearance of an "intake" for radiation to travel through so the watch could get a reading. The idea that the designer needed to show a way for the watch to actually receive radiation and report. Honest, who knows? Might be the only remaining mystery about the watch/prop. Amazing to finally be able to say the EVERYTHING is accounted for! Wow, cool. No more guessing on this one.

    Thanks everyone!
  • Donald GrantDonald Grant U.S.A.Posts: 2,241Quartermasters
    66cooper wrote:
    The hole is very much in the film. It is something that has kept me thinking all this time.

    My original thoughts was that is was simple a hole to give the appearance of an "intake" for radiation to travel through so the watch could get a reading. The idea that the designer needed to show a way for the watch to actually receive radiation and report. Honest, who knows? Might be the only remaining mystery about the watch/prop. Amazing to finally be able to say the EVERYTHING is accounted for! Wow, cool. No more guessing on this one.

    Thanks everyone!

    I think you may be right about the intake port Brian. As I had begun to think along those lines too. It seems like the most plausible reason for it. But as both you and Ed have said, who knows.

    Still a great find. Both you, Ed, Pete and Martin should be well proud. This is a real discovery of a long lost Bond prop from the Golden age of Bond that has been authenticated by people who would know, namely EON and Breitling. Not a fabricated story to make one self proclaimed expert look like a star. It's just fantastic. Stunning, in fact.

    Thanks Brian for being the driving force.

    DG
    So, what sharp little eyes you've got...wait till you get to my teeth.
    image_zps6a725e59.jpg
    "People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." Richard Grenier after George Orwell, Washington Times 1993.
  • The Domino EffectThe Domino Effect Posts: 3,631MI6 Agent
    Fantastic story and it seems to have a happy ending all around (ie: lost treasure found, no litigation involved, chunks of money for a nice person).
  • Bond44Bond44 Vauxhall CrossPosts: 1,581MI6 Agent
    Respect! :D

    Dedication worthy of JB himself - well done!

    As others have said only on AJB007!!

    Cheers
    My name is Bond, Basildon Bond - I have letters after my name!
  • always shakenalways shaken LondonPosts: 6,287MI6 Agent
    good things come to those who wait (well done the agents at AJB have done it again respect)
    By the way, did I tell you, I was "Mad"?
  • Sir MilesSir Miles The Wrong Side Of The WardrobePosts: 26,510Chief of Staff
    Bondtoys wrote:
    projects like this can only be found on AJB!

    And AJB is very lucky to have the wealth of talent that you gentlemen (and bondtots) provide...a great find and congrats to all involved -{
    YNWA 97
  • Gadget MeisterGadget Meister Bicester, OxonPosts: 1,972MI6 Agent
    Not wishing to denigrate this excellent thread nor the accolades the key players deserve BUT .............



    Shouldn't we have heard from Dell by now, obviously telling us that you're all wrong, that this a cheap copy and that he's had the original lying around in the back of a drawer for years? :))
  • welshboy78welshboy78 Posts: 10,292MI6 Agent
    Not wishing to denigrate this excellent thread nor the accolades the key players deserve BUT .............



    Shouldn't we have heard from Dell by now, obviously telling us that you're all wrong, that this a cheap copy and that he's had the original lying around in the back of a drawer for years? :))

    Funny you should mention that - was thinking the same thing LOL!
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