By  on March 7, 2012

Amid the mounting hype over the year-end release of “Skyfall,” the 23rd film in the James Bond movie franchise, watch enthusiasts are eager to find out just one thing: which timepiece Daniel Craig will wear on screen.

That it will be an Omega is a given: The Swiss watch brand has been a partner of Eon Productions, which produces the Bond films, since 1995, when Pierce Brosnan wore a Seamaster Diver with a blue dial in “GoldenEye.”

The Seamaster has remained the model of choice for Craig since he took over the 007 role, though he switched to a Seamaster Planet Ocean with a black dial in 2008 for “Quantum of Solace.”

Omega, which belongs to Swatch Group, is keeping mum on the model that will be used in “Skyfall,” but it is capitalizing on the movie’s advance buzz with the release this spring of a James Bond 007 50th Anniversary Collector’s Piece.

Special features of the Seamaster Diver, which marks five decades since the film franchise kicked off with “Dr. No,” include a black dial embossed with a 007 monogram and a case back stamped with a gun-barrel design. The watch comes in two sizes: 36.2 millimeters, in a limited edition of 3,007 pieces priced at $5,200, and 41 millimeters, in a limited edition of 11,007 that will retail for $5,000.

Swatch, the maker of affordable plastic watches, may produce a parallel Bond-themed collection to mark the milestone, as it did for the 40th anniversary, “but nothing has been finalized yet,” according to Omega chief executive officer Stephen Urquhart.

While previous Bond-themed limited editions have reportedly sold out fast, Urquhart declined to forecast any sell-out time span or detail the impact of the Bond tie-in on overall sales.

“When the Omega Seamaster Diver was selected for ‘GoldenEye’ in 1995, the costume designer who selected the watch, Lindy Hemming, knew the brand and its history and felt that Omega and James Bond were a logical partnership,” he said.

“It wasn’t a matter of enhancing the brand’s image, which had been excellent for more than a century at that point — but it certainly raised awareness of Omega with James Bond fans,” Urquhart added.

Jeff Greenfield, co-founder of advertising measurement company C3 Metrics, noted that even though there is no universal method for measuring the benefits of product placements, the Bond-Omega partnership was “a no-brainer.”

“You have a very sexy, handsome leading man who brings that air to his regular life as well, so you have that added benefit that even off-screen, anytime that somebody sees him, there’s going to be potentially a recall with the Omega brand,” Greenfield noted.

Indeed, triggering that association is key.

“Showing up on screen must be accompanied by an awareness campaign,” said Abram Sauer, who writes about product placement for brandchannel.com.

“Whether this is a magazine, TV, Internet or all media, the most important key to success is that audiences are presented with a trigger to get them to recall the placement and maintain the association. ‘James Bond’s watch’ is the description Omega should be shooting for,” he added.

Past Omega print campaigns include a tie-in with “Tomorrow Never Dies” featuring Brosnan wearing a Seamaster Professional watch under the tag line “James Bond’s Choice.” These days, Craig is listed twice on Omega’s brand ambassador page online — once as himself, and once as Bond.

If consumers accept some blurring of boundaries between film and real life, pronouncing a brand name on screen remains something of a taboo. “Casino Royale” drew criticism for an exchange between Vesper Lynd and Bond in which the watch is name checked (“Rolex?” she asks. “Omega,” he says. “Beautiful,” she replies.)

Urquhart said that as with all marketing, the perks of product placement have to be weighed against potential risks like viewer backlash.

“The inclusion of Omega’s name in the script in ‘Casino Royale’ was something that we didn’t know about until we saw the film. It was our fifth consecutive Bond film and that line in the script was a wink from the producers,” he said.

“One of the important things about product placement is that at the end of the day, moviegoers, especially with Bond films, get more for their money. Production costs for a movie like this are incredibly high and the revenues generated this way allow producers and directors to create better cinematic experiences,” he concluded.

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