James Bond’s Beach Suitcase – Sean Connery Edition

Sean Connery with Claudine Auger in the fourth James Bond film, Thunderball (1965), set in the Bahamas.

Sean Connery with Claudine Auger in the fourth James Bond film, Thunderball (1965), which was set in the Bahamas.

Vitals

Sean Connery as James Bond, British secret agent

Nassau, Summer 1965

Film: Thunderball
Release Date: December 29, 1965
Director: Terence Young

Background

Bond: Sir, I respectfully suggest that you assign me to Nassau.
M: Is there a reason besides your enthusiasm for water sports?

You really can’t blame James Bond for eagerly volunteering to take on MI6’s post in the Bahamas. Of all of Sean Connery’s early 007 adventures, Thunderball always struck me as the most aspirational, perfectly blending adventure, danger, style, and wit with the necessary Bond elements of exotic surroundings, clever gadgets, and a bevy of international beauties. Lurking threat of nuclear disaster aside, Thunderball presents the ideal summer holiday.

To celebrate the summer solstice, I’m somewhat departing from the usual BAMF Style format for a feature that highlights the best of Bond’s warm-weather duds… and where you can find them today to pack for your own beach vacation.

What to Pack

007’s pro tip: Think pink and blue with a touch of neutral sand tones as needed. Shirts should be short-sleeved with camp collars, shorts should be short, and everything should go well with a pair of espadrilles.

For purposes of practicality and ease, this feature will focus solely on the warm-weather casual wear worn by Sean Connery during his tenure as James Bond, mostly centered around Thunderball and Mr. Bond’s timeless dressed-down wardrobe for a mission in the Bahamas.

NB: Originally published June 2018, all links are reviewed and updated on an annual basis. Latest update: May 20, 2021
If linked products are unavailable as you’re reading this, you can still use the details as a guide to researching and finding your own Bond-inspired beach gear.
Items I own (and, thus, can personally endorse!) are marked with a light blue asterisk(*).

Shirts

During the Connery era through the 1960s, James Bond’s preferred top for warm-weather casual-wear was a short-sleeved sport shirt, made from a light, breathable fabric like linen or summer-weight cotton and detailed with a sporty one-piece camp collar and a “convenient pocket”.

Sean Connery and Claudine Auger in Thunderball (1965)

Pink linen camp shirt in Thunderball (1965), worn with light blue linen short-inseam swimming trunks and Rolex Submariner on a striped NATO strap.

Pink Linen Camp Shirt

As seen in: Thunderball (1965)

The situation: Enjoying a refreshing boozy drink by the waterside with a lovely new acquaintance.

The details:

  • Color: Rose pink melange
  • Material: Linen
  • Style: Button-up sport shirt
  • Collar: Camp collar
  • Sleeves: Short sleeves
  • Other details: Breast pocket, side vents, no placket
  • Read more at BAMF Style, Bond Suits

Now that we know Tommy Bahama is a Bond-approved brand—per Daniel Craig’s Jamaican-dwelling 007 in No Time to Die—it’s no surprise to see this Seattle-based island-themed outfitter offer some of the best examples of alternatives for what may be Bond’s most popular beach shirt! (As of summer 2021, at least…)

Where to find similar shirts:

  • Tommy Bahama “Sea Glass Linen” camp shirt in “new red sail” linen (Island Trends)*
    • In my opinion, this is your best bet for making the look your own!
  • Orlebar Brown “007 Cardinal Capri Collar Shirt” in cardinal Italian linen (Orlebar Brown)
    • Directly inspired by Connery’s Thunderball shirt!
  • 28 Palms “Relaxed Fit” camp shirt in coral silk (Amazon)
    • Differences: slightly different color, silk fabric, and edge stitching
  • 28 Palms “Standard Fit” shirt in coral linen (Amazon)
    • Differences: slightly different color and point collar (non-camp)
  • Abercrombie & Fitch camp shirt in light pink cotton/viscose (A&F)*
    • Differences: lighter color, different fabric, and no pocket
  • Abercrombie & Fitch linen-blend camp shirt in paprika red linen blend (A&F)
    • Differences: darker color and no pocket
  • Open Edit “Print Cabana Shirt” in pink lantana polyester blend (Nordstrom Rack)
    • Differences: lighter color, manmade fabric, and no pocket
  • Orlebar Brown “Hibbert” in vintage rose linen/cotton blend (Selfridge’s)
    • Differences: lighter color and no pocket
  • Port Authority “Textured Camp Shirt” in deep coral (Amazon)
    • Differences: texture and cheaper cotton/polyester blend material
  • Rag & Bone “Avery Rayon Shirt” in burlwood rayon blend (Rag & Bone)
    • Differences: slightly different color, manmade fabric, and no pocket
  • Todd Snyder camp shirt in salmon Irish linen (Todd Snyder)
    • Differences: slightly different color
  • Tommy Bahama “Al Fresco Tropics” camp shirt in paradise pink silk (Island Trends)
    • Differences: subtle floral print and silk material
  • Tommy Bahama “Sea Glass Linen” camp shirt in light rose linen (Island Trends)
    • Differences: slightly lighter color… otherwise, impressively close!
  • Tommy Bahama “Tropic Isle” camp shirt in candy rose silk (Island Trends)
    • Difference: silk fabric… otherwise, impressively close!
Sean Connery in Thunderball (1965)

Pink-and-white gingham camp shirt in Thunderball (1965), worn with pink linen short-inseam swimming trunks, black sunglasses, and Rolex Submariner on a striped NATO strap.

Pink-and-White Gingham Shirt

As seen in: Thunderball (1965)

The situation: Romantic rendezvous on the beach after a private swim

The details:

  • Color: Pink-and-white gingham check
  • Material: Cotton
  • Style: Button-up sport shirt
  • Collar: Camp collar
  • Sleeves: Short sleeves
  • Other details: Breast pocket, side vents, no placket
  • Read more at BAMF Style, Bond Suits

Where to find similar shirts:

  • Amazon Essentials “Short Sleeve Gingham Shirt” in pink gingham (Amazon)
  • Orvis “Tencel® Dobby Gingham Short-Sleeved Shirt” in red (Orvis)
  • Penguin “Short Sleeve Gingham with Stretch” in fuchsia (Amazon)
Sean Connery in Thunderball (1965)

Blue-and-white gingham camp shirt in Thunderball (1965), worn with light blue linen short-inseam swimming trunks.

Blue-and-White Gingham Shirt

As seen in: Thunderball (1965)

The situation: Helicopter ride over the ocean

The details:

  • Color: Pink-and-white gingham check
  • Material: Cotton
  • Style: Button-up sport shirt
  • Collar: Camp collar
  • Sleeves: Short sleeves
  • Other details: Breast pocket, side vents, no placket
  • Read more at BAMF Style, Bond Suits

Where to find similar shirts:

  • Amazon Essentials “Short Sleeve Gingham Shirt” in blue gingham (Amazon)
  • Jos. A. Bank “Reserve Collection Tailored Fit Check Camp Shirt” in light purple (Jos. A. Bank)
  • Mason & Sons “Camp Collar Seersucker Shirt” in sky blue gingham (Mason & Sons)
  • Orlebar Brown “Thunderball Gingham Shirt” in blue-and-white gingham cotton with toweling lining (Orlebar Brown)
  • Orvis “Tencel® Dobby Gingham Short-Sleeved Shirt” in light blue (Orvis)
  • Untuckit “Wrinkle-Free Performance Short-Sleeve Cagliari Shirt” in light blue-and-white mini-check (Untuckit)
Sean Connery in Thunderball (1965)

Slate blue-striped camp shirt in Thunderball (1965), worn with cream linen trousers, brown leather sandals, and steel Breitling Top Time dive watch.
007 holds Largo’s Remington 1100 semi-automatic shotgun, though there’s no good reason you’d need one of these for a beach getaway… depending on what kind of getaway it is, of course.

White-and-Slate Striped Camp Shirt

As seen in: Thunderball (1965)

The situation: Lunch and cocktails on a private island estate

The details:

  • Color: White with slate-blue butcher stripes
  • Material: Cotton
  • Style: Button-up sport shirt
  • Collar: Camp collar
  • Sleeves: Short sleeves
  • Other details: Breast pocket, side vents, no placket
  • Read more: BAMF Style, Bond Suits

Shirts directly inspired by Connery’s Thunderball shirt:

  • Magnoli “Camp Shirt” in dark blue and white stripe (Magnoli Clothiers)
  • Orlebar Brown “Thunderball Stripe Shirt” in riviera blue and white cotton-linen (Orlebar Brown)

Where to find similar shirts:

  • Abercrombie & Fitch camp shirt in dark blue stripe cotton viscose (A&F)*
    • Similarities: fit, style, and camp collar
    • Differences: unbalanced stripes, viscose fabric, and lack of pocket
  • Express “Slim Striped Seersucker Short Sleeve Shirt” in blue striped seersucker cotton (Express)
    • Similarities: fit, style, camp collar, and pocket
    • Differences: double stripe and puckered fabric
  • Gap linen-cotton button-front shirt in white “ground stripe” linen/cotton (Gap)
    • Similarities: fit, style, breast pocket, and camp collar
    • Differences: different stripes
  • Gap “Resort Shirt” in green stripe cotton blend (Gap)*
    • Similarities: fit, style, breast pocket, and camp collar
    • Differences: greener stripe
  • Hemingsworth “Marina Shirt” in blue stripe poplin (Mason & Sons)
    • Similarities: fit, style, and breast pocket
    • Differences: thinner stripes and sportier “Cooper” collar
  • Jack & Jones “Men’s Simon Stripe Shirt” in “navy blaze” cotton (Macy’s)
    • Similarities: fit, style, camp collar, and pocket
    • Differences: puckered seersucker-like fabric
  • Zara “Striped Linen Shirt” in navy blue striped linen (Zara)
    • Similarities: fit, fabric, and stripe
    • Differences: point collar and additional chest pocket
Blue silky short-sleeve camp shirt in Thunderball (1965), worn with matching flat-front trousers (ill-advised) and a NATO-strapped Rolex Submariner soon to be replaced with a Breitling Top Time geiger-counter watch.

Blue silky short-sleeve camp shirt in Thunderball (1965), worn with matching flat-front trousers (ill-advised) and a NATO-strapped Rolex Submariner soon to be replaced with a Breitling Top Time geiger-counter watch.

Blue Three-Pocket Camp Shirt

As seen in: Thunderball (1965)

The situation: Shopping… and running into an old friend

The details:

  • Color: Royal blue
  • Material: Silk or high-twist cotton
  • Style: Button-up sport shirt
  • Collar: Camp collar
  • Sleeves: Short sleeves
  • Other details: Breast pocket and hip pockets, side vents, no placket, and matching trousers (not advised)
  • Read more: BAMF Style, Bond Suits

Where to find similar shirts:

  • Abercrombie & Fitch camp shirt in navy linen blend (A&F)
    • Similarities: fit, style, breast pocket, and camp collar
    • Differences: darker color and no hip pockets
  • Gap linen-cotton button-front shirt in “new classic navy” linen/cotton (Gap)
    • Similarities: fit, style, breast pocket, and camp collar
    • Differences: darker color and no hip pockets
  • Harriton “Barbados Textured Camp Shirt” in pool blue rayon/polyester (Amazon)
    • Similarities: bold blue color, silky material, camp collar, and breast pocket
    • Differences: textured finish and no hip pockets
  • Orlebar Brown “Thunderball Linen Shirt” in saturated blue linen (Orlebar Brown)
    • Directly inspired by Connery’s screen-worn shirt
  • Tasso Elba “Textured Shirt” in new cerulean (Macy’s)
    • Similarities: bold blue color, silky material, and white buttons
    • Differences: point collar and no hip pockets
  • Todd Snyder camp shirt in navy Irish linen (Todd Snyder)
    • Similarities: fit, style, breast pocket, and camp collar
    • Differences: darker color, dark buttons, and no hip pockets
  • Tommy Bahama “Weekend Tropics Silk Shirt” in navy (Macy’s)
    • Similarities: bold blue color, silky material, white buttons
    • Differences: point collar and no hip pockets
Sean Connery in Thunderball (1965)

Tan linen camp shirt in You Only Live Twice (1967), worn with brown linen trousers and brown leather sandals.

Tan Linen Camp Shirt

As seen in: You Only Live Twice (1967)

The situation: An earthier day spent further inland

The details:

  • Color: Tan
  • Material: Linen
  • Style: Button-up sport shirt
  • Collar: Camp collar
  • Sleeves: Short sleeves
  • Other details: Breast pocket, side vents, no placket
  • Read more: BAMF Style, Bond Suits

Where to find similar shirts:

  • 28 Palms “Relaxed Fit” camp shirt in tan silk (Amazon)
    • Similarities: color, fit, camp collar, and pocket
    • Differences: silk fabric
  • Abercrombie & Fitch camp shirt in cream stripe linen blend (A&F)
    • Similarities: color, fit, and camp collar
    • Differences: subtle striping and no breast pocket
  • Gap linen-cotton button-front shirt in “oat beige” linen/cotton (Gap)
    • Similarities: color, material, fit, style, breast pocket, and camp collar
    • Differences…? Not many!
  • Harriton “Bahama Cord Camp Shirt” in creme rayon/polyester (Amazon)
    • Similarities: fit, camp collar, and pocket
    • Differences: slightly different color, non-white buttons, and manmade fabric
  • Harriton “Barbados Textured Camp Shirt” in khaki (Amazon)
    • Similarities: color, fit, camp collar, and pocket
    • Differences: cheaper synthetic fabric
  • Orlebar Brown “Golden Gun Shirt” in ivory cotton (Orlebar Brown)
    • Directly inspired by the Bond series!
  • Port Authority “Easy Care Camp Shirt” in ivory polyester/rayon (Amazon)
    • Similarities: style, camp collar, and pocket
    • Differences: slightly different color, non-white buttons, and manmade fabric
Sean Connery in Diamonds are Forever (1971)

Sean Connery first shows his face in Diamonds are Forever (1971) wearing this super-’70s sportswear consisting of a safari-inspired terry shirt and tonal slacks.

Off-White Terrycloth Shirt
Newly added for 2021!

As seen in: Diamonds are Forever (1971)

The situation: A salacious stop on the beach

The details:

  • Color: Cream-and-beige pattern
  • Material: Terry cloth toweling cotton
  • Style: Button-up sport shirt
  • Collar: Camp collar
  • Sleeves: Short sleeves
  • Other details: Two box-pleated pockets with button-down flaps
  • Read more: Bond Suits

Where to find similar shirts:

  • Busbee McQuade “The Busbee” beach cardigan in off-white terry cotton (Busbee McQuade)
  • Dandy Del Mar “Tropez Terry Cloth Shirt” in vintage ivory terry cotton/polyester (Dandy Del Mar)*
  • A Day’s March “Camp-Collar Terry Shirt” in desert terry cotton (A Day’s March)
  • Faherty “The Cabana Shirt” in terry cotton/polyester (Faherty)
  • OAS “Beige Machu Terry Shirt” in beige terry cotton (OAS Company)
  • Proper Cloth knit shirt in off-white terry cotton (Proper Cloth)
  • Todd Snyder “Terry Button Down Polo” in white terry cotton (Todd Snyder)
  • UO “Jacquard Terry Button-Down Shirt” in tan terry cotton/polyester (Urban Outfitters)
Sean Connery in Thunderball (1965)

Navy cotton Fred Perry polo shirt in Thunderball (1965), worn with white short-inseam swim trunks, Rolex Submariner dive watch on undersized NATO strap, and light blue canvas espadrilles.

Navy Fred Perry-branded Polo Shirt

As seen in: Thunderball (1965)

The situation: A nighttime ride

The details:

  • Color: Navy with white-embroidered “laurel” logo on left breast
  • Material: Cotton pique
  • Style: Polo shirt with two-button placket
  • Sleeves: Short sleeves
  • Read more: BAMF Style, James Bond Lifestyle, and Bond Suits

Where to find similar shirts:

  • Fred Perry “Plain Polo Shirt” in navy (Amazon)
    • Almost exactly the same shirt that Connery wore
  • Nautica “Classic Fit” in navy (Amazon)
    • Same shirt, different (and less expensive) branding
  • Amazon Essentials “Slim Fit” in navy (Amazon)
    • Budget-friendly alternative in slightly lighter navy and obviously without the Perry logo

Swimwear

Sean Connery in his light blue linen Jantzen swim trunks, flanked by co-stars Claudine Auger and Martine Beswick, on location in the Bahamas for Thunderball (1965).

Sean Connery in his light blue linen Jantzen swim trunks, flanked by co-stars Claudine Auger and Martine Beswick, on location in the Bahamas for Thunderball (1965).

Short-inseam swimming trunks

As seen in: Thunderball (1965)

The details:

  • Color: Light blue, pink, or white
  • Material: Water-resistant linen
  • Style: Black-belted, short-inseam swimming trunks
  • NB: Jantzen, the original maker of these shorts, no longer produces swimwear for men
  • Read more: BAMF Style, Bond Suits, and James Bond Lifestyle

Where to find blue trunks:

  • Orlebar Brown 007 Collection “Thunderball Swimshort” in Riviera/navy (Orlebar Brown)
  • Orlebar Brown “Setter” in riviera blue (Orlebar Brown)
  • Polo Ralph Lauren belt-loop 9″-inseam swim shorts in French turquoise (Amazon)
  • Royale Filmwear “James Bond SKYFALL” swim shorts (Royale Filmwear)
  • Southern Marsh “Shoals Seawash” belt-looped swim trunks in teal cotton/nylon (Amazon)*
  • Timoteo “Santa Monica” belted swim trunks in blue (International Jock)
  • H&M non-belted swim trunks in turquoise (H&M)
  • Sunspel “Upcycled Marine Plastic Drawstring Swim Short”, non-belted, in light blue (Sunspel)

Where to find pink trunks:

  • Orlebar Brown 007 Collection “Thunderball Swimshort” in watermelon/warm pink (Orlebar Brown)
  • Polo Ralph Lauren belt-loop 9″-inseam swim shorts in “pink frosting” (Amazon)
  • Southern Marsh “Shoals Seawash” belt-looped swim trunks in “washed red” cotton/nylon (Amazon)
  • Timoteo “Santa Monica” belted swim trunks in fuschia (International Jock)
  • Volcom “Lido Solid” non-belted swim trunks in “desert pink” (Amazon)

Where to find white trunks:

If you get trunks that have belt loops but no belt, pick up a black nylon web belt with a plastic buckle (like this) to complete the Connery-inspired look!


Trousers

Sean Connery in Thunderball (1965)

Cream linen trousers in Thunderball (1965), worn with a white-and-slate blue striped camp shirt, brown leather sandals, and Breitling Top Time dive watch.

Cream Linen Trousers

As seen in: Thunderball (1965)

The situation: Lunch and cocktails on a private island estate

The details:

  • Color: Cream
  • Material: Linen
  • Style: Flat front trousers
  • Other details: Button-tab side adjusters, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Read more: BAMF Style, Bond Suits

Where to find it:

  • Berg & Berg “Alfonso” linen trousers in sand (Berg & Berg)
    • Same: color, fabric, fit, and side adjusters
    • Different: hardly different other than the nit-picky fact that Connery wore button-tab side adjusters rather than buckle-tab
  • Hemingsworth “Cruiser” trousers in cream brushed twill (Mason & Sons)
    • Same: color, fit, and side adjusters
    • Different: cotton construction, though still a lightweight, summer-friendly fabric
  • Orlebar Brown “Bond Linen Trouser” in matchstick linen/cotton blend (Orlebar Brown)
  • Tasso Elba linen trousers in natural (Macy’s)
    • Same: color, fabric, and fit
    • Different: belt loops
  • Tommy Bahama “On the Beach” trousers in natural linen (Amazon)
    • Same: color and fabric
    • Different: elastic waistband and looser fit
Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice (1967)

Brown linen trousers in You Only Live Twice (1967), worn with tan linen camp shirt and brown leather sandals.

Brown Linen Trousers

As seen in: You Only Live Twice (1967)

The situation: An earthier day spent further inland

The details:

  • Color: Brown
  • Material: Linen
  • Style: Flat front trousers
  • Other details: Button-tab side adjusters, frogmouth front pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Read more: BAMF Style, Bond Suits

Where to find it:

  • Berg & Berg “Alfonso” linen trousers in chocolate brown (Berg & Berg)
    • Same: fabric, fit, and side adjusters
    • Different: slightly darker color and more traditional side pockets
  • Todd Snyder “Herringbone Linen Sack Suit Trouser” in brown Italian linen (Todd Snyder)
    • Same: color and fabric
    • Different: dressier fit, belt loops, and side pockets

Footwear

No socks needed!

Sean Connery in Thunderball (1965)

Light blue canvas espadrilles in Thunderball (1965), featured on screen as Bond disarms a thug of his Beretta pistol.

Blue Espadrilles

As seen in: Goldfinger (1964) and Thunderball (1965)

The details:

Where to find them:

  • Alexis Leroy espadrilles in blue (Amazon)
  • Ben Sherman “New Jenson” espadrilles in light blue (Amazon)*
  • Kentti espadrilles in blue canvas (Amazon)
  • OAS espadrilles in blue denim (OAS Company)
  • Orlebar Brown 007 Collection “Thunderball” espadrilles in washed indigo canvas (Orlebar Brown)
  • Soludos “smoking slippers” in blue washed canvas (Amazon)
  • Superdry espadrilles in blue chambray (Amazon)
  • Viscata espadrilles in blue cotton canvas (Amazon)
Sean Connery in Thunderball (1965)

Brown leather sandals in Thunderball (1965), featured on screen as Bond hands Domino’s yellow towel to her.

Brown Buckle-Strap Leather Sandals

As seen in: Thunderball (1965) and You Only Live Twice (1967)

The details:

  • Color/material: Brown leather
  • Style: Triple-strapped (two over vamp, one on heel) open-toe walking sandals with brass single-prong buckles
  • Read more: BAMF Style

Where to find them:

  • Birkenstock “Milano” sandals in Amalfi brown leather (Amazon and East Dane)
  • Clarks “Brixby Shore” sandals in dark brown leather (Amazon)
  • Dockers “Newpage” sandals in dark tan synthetic (Amazon)
  • Nunn Bush “Rio Grande” fisherman sandals in tan synthetic (Amazon)

Accessories

Sean Connery sports a pair of black rectangular-framed sunglasses in Thunderball (1965)

Sean Connery sports a pair of black rectangular-framed sunglasses in Thunderball (1965)

Black Rectangular Sunglasses

As seen in: Thunderball (1965)

The details:

  • Color: Black
  • Frame: Plastic/acetate
  • Style: Rectangular “wayfarer”-style

The online Bond fan community has invested considerable time and arguments into the discussion of who exactly made Sean Connery’s über-cool shades in Thunderball. The big names like Persol and Ray-Ban are easily ruled out, with the most likely contender being the Polaroid Cool-Ray N135, though some still insist upon the Oliver Goldsmith “Consul” model. (Check out Iconic Alternatives for specific evidence in favor of the Polaroid!)

Where to find them:

  • Curry & Paxton “Piano Black Sean” in black cellulose (Mason & Sons)
    • Co-developed with Mason & Sons, this pair takes direct style cues from the classic Polaroid sunglasses that are hypothesized to be the model worn in Thunderball by Sean Connery
  • Gamma Ray polarized sunglasses in black plastic (Amazon)
    • If your plan is to just have a pair of cheap shades for the sand, sun, and surf, don’t spend more than $10!
  • Oliver Goldsmith Consul in black plastic (Eyegoodies)
    • Favored by many 20th century icons, though decidedly not the pair worn by Sean Connery in Thunderball
  • Ray-Ban RB2140 “Original Wayfarer” in black acetate (Amazon)*
    • Though certainly not what Connery was wearing, there’s a reason that Ray-Ban’s iconic Wayfarer model has stood the test of time
Sean Connery in Thunderball (1965)

Straw hat and sunglasses in Thunderball (1965), worn with Bond’s ill-advised matching blue shirt and pants combo.

Straw Pork Pie Hat

Bond’s flat crown indicates that his hat is of the “pork pie” style rather than the pinched crown of a trilby or fedora.

Keep in mind that genuine straw is expensive  but often worth it, especially when compared to its lesser “paper straw” cousins.

The details:

  • Color/Material: Natural coconut straw
  • Hat band: Navy, blue, and white plaid cotton
  • Style: Short-brimmed pork pie hat

Where to get it:

  • New York Hat Company “Be Bop” in natural coconut straw with black band (Village Hat Shop)
  • Stetson “Madrigal” in natural coconut straw with plaid band (Levine Hats)
  • Fred Perry straw trilby in natural straw (Amazon)
    • It’s a trilby and it has a plain band… but we know Bond likes Fred Perry!
Sean Connery's Rolex in Thunderball (1965)

Sean Connery wears 007’s classic Rolex Submariner 6538 on a striped NATO strap in Thunderball (1965), just as he had the previous year in Goldfinger (1964).

Dive Watch on NATO Strap

As seen in: Goldfinger (1964) and Thunderball (1965)

The details:

  • Case: Stainless
  • Dial: Black
  • Bezel: Black rotating
  • Band: NATO strap with black, olive, and thin red stripes

Though 007 is issued a Breitling Top-Time pilot watch with a geiger counter function, the Rolex Submariner 6538 is the classic Bond watch, not to mention that a dive watch is more apropos the beach setting and the NATO strap would be far more comfortable on your wrist on a hot sunny day than the metal pilot-style bracelet of the Breitling.

Rolex discontinued production of the ref. 6538 Submariner in 1961, four years before Thunderball was even made.

If you want the real deal, you either need to get lucky or plan on spending a pretty penny either for a classic Rolex or a newer evolution of the Submariner, like the 6538’s spiritual successor, the non-date ref. 114060. Luckily, budget-driven shoppers are not devoid of options…

Where to find the watch:

  • Casio MDV106-1A (Amazon)*
  • Invicta 8926OB Pro Diver (Amazon)*
  • Orient “Ray II” FA002004B9 (Amazon)
  • Seiko SKX007K Diver (Amazon)

Where to get NATO straps:

  • Barton “Jetson” in black, red, and olive (Amazon)*
  • Benchmark Straps in black and gray (Amazon)*, the color scheme worn by Daniel Craig in Spectre
  • Clockwork Synergy in black, green, and red (Amazon)
  • Geckota in dark navy, red, and olive (Amazon)
  • Stylelover in navy, ivory, and crimson (Amazon)*, if you want some red, white, and blue on your wrist for the 4th of July

Sleepwear

White cotton pajama pants in Dr. No (1962)... Bond's only armor when fighting off a deadly tarantula.

White cotton pajama pants in Dr. No (1962)… Bond’s only armor when fighting off a deadly tarantula.

White cotton pajama pants

As seen in: Dr. No (1962)

The details:

  • Color: White
  • Material: Cotton
  • Style: Drawstring-waist long pants

Where to get similar pajama pants:

  • AvaCostume sleep pants in white cotton/spandex jersey (Amazon)
  • Goodfellow & Co. “Men’s Knit Pajama Pants” in bayshore blue or light heathered gray (Target)
  • J. Crew “Cotton pajama pant in stripe” in bold peri (J. Crew)

Where to get white pajama sets that include similar pants:

  • Brooks Brothers “Wrinkle-Resistant Oxford Pajamas” in white cotton (Brooks Brothers)
  • Sleepy Jones “Henry Pajama Set” in white end-on-end cotton (Sleepy Jones)

What Else to Pack

Let’s assume you plan on leaving your Walther PPK at home and focus instead on some of the other essentials of Bond’s travel: books and booze.

Even Sean Connery doesn't let an exotic island location interfere with his reading plans! The light blue trunks he wore for this photo session inspired Sunspel to create its first swim shorts for men.

Even Sean Connery doesn’t let an exotic island location interfere with his reading plans! The light blue trunks he wore for this photo session on the set of Woman of Straw (not Thunderball) inspired Sunspel to create its first swim shorts for men.

Literature

In the novels, Ian Fleming focused much more on Bond’s reading habits, providing his own readers with a solid glimpse of what was on 007’s bookshelf. Assuming that instructional guides about golf, genealogy, and card-playing aren’t your idea of the ideal summer reads, check out this list of Bond-inspired reading material:

  • Eric Ambler – The Mask of Dimitrios (Amazon, published in the U.S. as A Coffin for Dimitrios)
    • Bond reads this 1939 thriller to wile away a flight to Istanbul in From Russia With Love, and fans of the story can also check out the 1944 film noir adaptation.
  • Ian Fleming – Thunderball (Amazon)
    • Fleming’s eighth full-length Bond novel was intended to serve as the first film in the series, hence its even more cinematic style than its predecessor.
  • Ernest Hemingway – A Farewell to Arms (Amazon)
    • Timothy Dalton’s Bond alludes to Papa’s classic story of love in wartime when asked to hand over his PPK in Licence to Kill… while on the balcony of the Hemingway House in Key West.
  • Anthony Horowitz – Forever and a Day (Amazon)
    • The latest installment in the James Bond literary canon serves as a prequel to Casino Royale and includes original excerpts from Fleming himself, described in Steven Poole’s review for The Guardian as “an enjoyably compact thriller.”

Libations

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Bond’s tried-and-true Vodka Martini. The preferred ingredients of the Connery era appear to be:

  • Smirnoff 100-proof vodka (look for blue in the label), as seen in Dr. No
  • Cinzano extra dry vermouth, as seen in Thunderball

For proportions, the six-to-one ratio of vodka to vermouth as stipulated in Live and Let Die will serve you well: six parts vodka, one part vermouth, shaken with ice until it’s ice-cold, and poured into a a chilled martini glass.

Rik Van Nutter and Sean Connery in Thunderball (1965)

After sending a hapless henchmen on his way, Bond eagerly mixes a martini for himself. Whether or not this feckless Felix (Rik Van Nutter) will get a cocktail is well has been lost to time… or the editing room floor.

Now, the more beach-friendly option: the Rum Collins. Bond is served this refreshing Caribbean alternative to the venerable Tom Collins cocktail before his lunch with the villainous Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi) at Palmyra, Largo’s Bahamian estate.

The Tom Collins first emerged in the United States in the late 19th century, recorded by “father of American mixology” Jerry Thomas in his 1876 edition of Bartender’s Guide. Little has changed in the preparation of the Tom Collins in the last century and a half, and the basic ingredients are gin, sugar, soda water, and lemon.

The Rum Collins replaces the original cocktail’s gin with light rum, delivering a more tropic-friendly flavor. The rum is up to you, though Daniel Craig’s order of Mount Gay and soda in Casino Royale makes the aromatic Mount Gay Silver a reasonable choice. Since Largo’s bartender doesn’t share his secrets with the audience, we have only the expert word of the Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide to guide us in the actual concoction…

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. light rum
  • 1 oz. lime juice (rather than the Tom Collins’ lemon juice)
  • 1 tsp. superfine sugar or simple syrup
  • club soda

Shake the rum, lime juice, and sugar or syrup in an ice-filled shaker, then strain into a tall, chilled Collins glass. Add a few more ice cubes to ensure it’s cold, fill the mixture with club soda, and stir. The finishing touch à la Largo? Garnish with a slice of lemon and a maraschino cherry.

A courteous lunch guest always accepts a Rum Collins from his host... even if said host is a pompous megalomaniac.

A courteous lunch guest always accepts a Rum Collins from his host… even if said host is a pompous megalomaniac.

Can’t live without brown liquor? Blended Scotch whisky seems to serve Bond’s needs in the film series’ tropical settings, beginning with Black & White in Dr. No and a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label that shows up in Paula Kaplan’s hotel room in Thunderball. Decades later, Daniel Craig’s exiled Bond swigs Macallan while living the island life, but one suspects the influences of product placement at work than an earnest reflection of Fleming’s original character.

The Quote

Bond: My dear, uncooperative Domino.
Domino: How do you know that? How do you know my friends call me Domino?
Bond: It’s on the bracelet on your ankle.
Domino: So… what sharp little eyes you’ve got.
Bond: Wait ’til you get to my teeth.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Watch Thunderball, the high water mark (if you’ll excuse the pun) of Bond’s beach-going style. Sir Sean’s other beach-friendly Bond flicks cited in this post include You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever.

Sean Connery and Claudine Auger in Thunderball (1965)

Make this year’s beach vacation one to remember!

Looking for more? Iconic Alternatives lives up to its name with countless options to channel Bond’s attire across all price points, from his revere-collared sport shirts and swim trunks to sunglasses and espadrilles.

Have you found other items that help you channel 007’s style at the beach? Share in the comments below!

17 comments

  1. Simon

    Wow…a lot of research and links in this post. Well done!

    I’ve always liked Thunderball but felt that it drags in the underwater sequences. This tends to be the case in all films with underwater sequences.

    I’d argue that the classic Bond film is Goldfinger. Whenever anyone sends up spies and the Cold War it is Goldfinger they are sending up. From Get Smart to Inspector Gadget they are all using the elements from Goldfinger as a basis of their satire. And no Bond has ever looked fitter and more confident than Connery in Goldfinger. I think that was his peak as Bond.

    • luckystrike721

      Thanks! I know a lot of people are always curious about appropriating the Thunderball summer look, so I hope this is a helpful guide!

      I agree that Goldfinger is definitely the quintessential Bond film, from the style to the story elements. However… if I had to be Bond in a movie, I’d pick Thunderball; he never really gets captured or tortured and his whole experience is basically “a day at the beach” full of lovely women, refreshing cocktails, and the occasional underwater adventure. (Though the frequency and duration of the underwater sequences do drag, in my opinion!)

  2. W. ADAM MANDELBAUM

    Bravo on a job well done! All of Connery’s outfits in the Bond movies exhibit style EXCEPT for that unfortunate blue Terry cloth disaster at the Miami poolside at the beginning of Goldfinger.

  3. Jay Small

    You should specify that Connery Bond’s Rolex was on a pull-through (also called a G10 or RAF) strap, rather than a modern NATO strap. They may not be as secure without the extra strip under the spring bars, but I do like the lack of extra hardware on a simple pull-through.

    • George

      Also the strap is small for the lug size, probably 18 mm strap while the lug width is 20mm

      • Teeritz

        @ George, I read a long time ago (pre-internet) that the Submariner belonged to one of the crew, who was ex-Royal Navy. Others have since speculated that the Sub belonged to Producer Cubby Broccoli, but he has never struck me as a dive watch kind of guy. My theory about the ‘under-strapping’ , hear me out, is this; the props guy, rather than attempt to remove links from the steel bracelet -‘cos you need a tiny screwdriver for that – rushes out and buys a nylon pass-thru strap, available from newstands, right next to the LifeSavers and Camel no-filters, but since most men back in 1962 probably wore a plain dress watch with 16mm to 18mm lug widths, the newstand only had these two sizes available. Or, as my watchmaker hypothesised, most military watches back in the ’50s and ’60s had 16 to 18mm lug widths and maybe this crew guy put the old strap off his service watch onto his 20mm lugged Rolex Sub. Some Sub owners have gone for total realism and have put 16mil straps on their Submariners. But that’s just nuts, 007.

        @ Jay Small, the extra strip of nylon on a NATO strap prevents the watch from sliding off the strap, but a G10 (RAF) will work the same way as a NATO in the event that a spring bar fails. Either way, these nylon straps are great. A ten dollar strap on a ten grand dive watch. Drives the watch snobs crazy. Love it!

  4. Preston Fassel

    Two cents from your friendly neighborhood eyewear enthusiast/historian– as soon as I saw the pic of Connery in those shades at the top of the page, I thought to myself, “Oh, he’s wearing Polaroids.” Though they’re a departure from Bond’s usual luxury goods, in the 1960s, Polaroids had a reputation for durability (they were rumored to be favored by the Hell’s Angels for rides), so it makes some degree of sense that Bond might prefer to spend less on an easily lost item that would nevertheless prove versatile and sturdy while he was using them.

  5. RM

    This is great. I suggested a similar idea to Matt Spaiser ie ‘What is the optimum choice of capsule wardrobe from Bond’s entire history of clothes to take on summer vacation, weekend in the country etc’. Providing a selection of modern options is most welcome.

  6. Thomas Michael

    The best Sean Connery Bond movie? Without question Goldfinger based entirety by the famous three-piece suit he wears. A timeless classic you could wear today!

  7. jdreyfuss

    I think it’s out of production, but Murano (DIllards house brand) makes or made a slim fit linen camp shirt that looked almost exactly like the ones Connery wore in Thunderball. I know it’s still available on eBay new with tags in natural and light blue.

  8. Gregory Dickinson

    Rolex sister brand Tudor’s Black Bay Black or the newer (and more classically sized) Black Bay 58 models are an ideal mid-priced alternative to the Connery-era classic Submariner.

  9. Pingback: Bond Hits the Beach in Thunderball | BAMF Style
  10. Pingback: James Bond Summer Shirts - Iconic Alternatives
  11. Pingback: Best Budget Style Finds May 4th - Iconic Alternatives

Leave a Reply