The best James Bond gadgets: essential pieces of kit from 007’s adventures

The best James Bond gadgets: essential pieces of kit from 007’s adventures

"Nobody does it better," sang Carly Simon in the theme to The Spy Who Loved Me, but 007 does get an awful lot of help when it comes to doing it twice as well as everybody else. The best James Bond gadgets are as integral to the spy’s arsenal as his Walther PPK and a vodka martini (shaken not stirred, obviously), and have become an iconic part of the long-running franchise.

Thanks to the ingenuity of Q and his team of boffins, 007 rarely ventures on a mission without the right kit. From the iconic souped-up Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger to a ballpoint pen hand grenade in GoldenEye, the best Bond gadgets have helped MI6’s most famous agent out of a tight spot on numerous occasions. He’s also faced a few challenges of his own when his enemies have got their hands on gear to rival his own. 

As time has gone by, some of the Bond tech that once felt like sci-fi (the fingerprint scanners in Diamonds are Forever, the wristwatch communicator in For Your Eyes Only) have become reality. Other examples – such as the infamous invisible car in Die Another Day – are as memorable for their silliness as their ingenuity. 

In this compilation of the best James Bond gadgets, we’ve picked out the most iconic pieces of tech from the last 59 years of espionage. Do pay attention…

By Richard Edwards 

Utility briefcase (From Russia with Love)

Daniel Craig’s Bond would stick out like a sore thumb if he carried a briefcase, but back in the ’60s, they were an essential part of any businessman’s attire. Which is why Q reinvents one as a stylish box of tricks containing a rifle, ammunition, a throwing knife, a tear gas canister masquerading as talcum powder, and – bizarrely – 50 gold sovereigns. This Bond gadget can also be used to carry important documents.

Rosa Klebb’s shoe (From Russia with Love)

007’s second big-screen outing introduced one of the best James Bond gadgets. A former Soviet spy chief who defected to become Blofeld’s No 3 at Spectre, Rosa Klebb has an extremely useful weapon when she needs a little extra kick. Her otherwise sensible shoes contain a retractable spike tipped with poison, fatal to anyone unfortunate enough to come into contact with her lethal right foot. Much imitated in other movies, the footwear also made a brief cameo in the 40th-anniversary movie Die Another Day.

The Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger)

James Bond has always had impeccable taste in cars. While most motorists would be more than happy with the style and sophistication of an Aston Martin DB5, however, the 007 edition comes with more than usual under the bonnet. Key selling points include rotating number plates ("naturally"), oil and smoke emitters, machine guns, tyre shredders and – best of all – an ejector seat which comes in extremely handy in the event of unwanted passengers. Still the definitive 007 vehicle 57 years on, there’s a reason Bond pulled it out of storage when he played bodyguard to M in Skyfall. 

Jetpack (Thunderball)

Whenever you need to make a rooftop getaway, it’s helpful if you’ve already stashed a jetpack in preparation for your escape. With hired goons in pursuit, Bond calmly straps on his rocket-propelled apparatus, and blasts off to meet the car that’s waiting for him on the street outside. Most impressively of all, 007 finds time to put on a helmet before take-off – safety first, and all that.

Little Nellie (You Only Live Twice)

Over the last 59 years, James Bond has taken a spin in more vehicles than a Top Gear presenter, but few have been as unconventional as Little Nellie. A modified version of an autogyro created by former RAF pilot Ken Wallis – though we’re pretty sure he didn’t arm his with flame-throwers and aerial mines – this helicopter-like craft is remarkably maneuverable after it’s been assembled from kit form. That said, we’d question the wisdom of using it on a surveillance mission, seeing as it’s INCREDIBLY LOUD. Top trivia: Little Nellie was apparently named after music hall star Nellie Wallace.

Hand trap (Diamonds are Forever)

Q had clearly been watching a lot of Tom and Jerry cartoons when he thought up this Bond gadget. The officious henchman who attempts to frisk 007 for weapons never counted on finding a mousetrap-like device in the agent’s sports jacket, and recoils in pain when it snaps shut on his fingers. The simple ones are sometimes the best – though this particular piece of kit feels like an accident waiting to happen for its owner.

Rolex Submariner watch (Live and Let Die)

James Bond must be a very punctual guy, seeing as he’s rarely seen without a state-of-the-art watch strapped to his wrist. For 007, it’s never just about keeping time, however, as he tends to insist on his timepieces having more extras than an Apple Watch. His Live and Let Die Rolex Submariner boasts both a powerful electromagnet (handy for deflecting your boss’s cutlery) and a very sharp circular saw. Also worthy of a mention: Bond’s digital watch in The Spy Who Loved Me received text messages – which it printed out on paper – decades before SMS became standard.

The golden gun (The Man with the Golden Gun)

There’s no point being a high-class assassin – famed for killing your targets with golden bullets – if you can’t get your weapon of choice through customs. Francisco Scaramanga has an ingenious solution, however, as his gun can be quickly disassembled into a matching cigarette case, lighter, and pen – he clearly decided that "The Man with the Golden Pen" didn’t carry quite the same cachet.

Flying car (The Man with the Golden Gun)

If we needed confirmation that Scaramanga is every bit Bond’s equal, we get it in his passion for high-tech gadgets. While his choice of car now feels remarkably dated – that shade of brown is so 1970s – the addition of attachable wings and a jet engine is ingenious. They allow the assassin and his trusted aide, Nick Nack, to make a hasty aerial escape, though you have to feel for trapped British agent Mary Goodnight when she opens the car’s trunk and realizes she’s cruising at several thousand feet.

Underwater Lotus Espirit (The Spy who Loved Me)

Not impressed by the standard land-only Lotus Espirit? The model James Bond drives in The Spy who Loved Me comes properly into its own once you’ve driven it off a pier. There’s no need to panic as you sink to the bottom of the sea, because the flick of a button transforms your vehicle into a submarine, bringing a huge variety of ocean life directly to your windscreen. The car also comes with a missile launcher, in case you’re having bother from villains in helicopters.

Spy camera (Moonraker)

Back in the days before everybody carried a smartphone in their pocket, a camera was an essential part of any respectable spy’s toolbox – Q took great pride in showing 007 a waterproof model in Thunderball, while the tiny ring-based camera in A View To Kill is particularly impressive. But Q may have surpassed himself with the miniature device Bond uses in Moonraker. It’s not that it does anything particularly special – it’s more that it features a clever 007 design, with the lens doubling up as the second zero. It’s terrible for going incognito, of course, but it looks fantastic.

Gondola hovercraft (Moonraker)

Nothing characterizes the canal streets of Venice quite like a gondola, but they’re notoriously terrible when it comes to getting around on land. There’s no such problem for 007, however, whose souped-up boat not only comes with an engine, it also converts into a hovercraft should you ever want to take a close-up look at St Mark’s Square. Unfortunately, its vast length makes it rather cumbersome to maneuver, and it looks so ridiculous that even a pigeon does a double-take. 

Fold-up plane (Octopussy)

There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the one-seater escape jet 007 flies in Octopussy, aside from the fact its wings fold up. Significantly worthier of comment is the fact it’s housed in a horsebox, behind a prosthetic animal backside so fake that everyone on the military base who failed to spot it deserves to lose their job. 

Aston Martin V8 Volante (The Living Daylights)

It may not share the elegant lines of its famous predecessor, the Aston Martin DB5, but the V8 Volante still comes equipped with some of the best optional extras on the market. The laser cutters are a neat update of the tire slashers from Goldfinger, while the skis and rocket-booster are ideal additions for any vehicle likely to be called into action on ice. The car also boasts ample space for a cello, and a self-destruct system to keep it off the second-hand market.

Grappling belt (GoldenEye)

"I’m familiar with that device," Bond assures Q during the first briefing of Pierce Brosnan’s tenure, but there’s more to this leather belt than initially meets the eye. It’s equipped with a 75-foot repelling cord built into the buckle, with a piton to hook on to convenient sections of masonry. It’s only calibrated for one user, but you can guarantee 007 will find a way to bring along a friend.

Pen grenade (GoldenEye)

If ever a franchise has worked to prove the pen is literally mightier than the sword, it’s Bond. Q had already issued an acid-squirting writing implement in Octopussy, but it’s the ballpoint pen 007 uses in GoldenEye that earns a place in our compilation of the best James Bond gadgets. Three clicks arms the four-second fuse, another three deactivates it – which is fine if you’re paying attention, not so good if you spend your time absent-mindedly fiddling with your pen. As “invincible” Boris (Alan Cumming) almost finds to his cost.

Remote control car (Tomorrow Never Dies)

Many of us were still getting used to the idea of having a cellphone in our pockets when Bond used his prototype Ericsson device to turn his modified BMW 750iL into a full-size remote-control car. Using an early touchpad and LCD screen, Bond proves remarkably adept at driving his big toy around a multi-story car park – he even gets a chance to try out additional features such as missile launchers, self-inflating tires, and a conveniently placed wire-cutter. We’re still not sure if he got his deposit back from the hire company. 

Avalanche-proof ski jacket (The World is Not Enough)

Even the most serious piste enthusiasts would think twice about taking an Alpine holiday with 007 – every time he clips on his skis, Bond tends to get chased by armies of angry guys with guns (see also On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me and A View to a Kill). That’s probably why he comes prepared in The World is Not Enough, wearing a ski jacket that creates a protective inflatable shell for you (and a friend) in the event of an avalanche.

Invisible car (Die Another Day)

One of the most widely mocked elements of a widely mocked movie, the Aston Martin V12 Vanquish from Die Another Day is possibly the silliest addition to Bond’s impressive garage of supercars. That it comes with an ejector seat and enough firepower to take out a small army is just half the story. Thanks to its adaptive camouflage – "Tiny cameras on all sides project the image they see onto a light-emitting polymer skin on the opposite side," explains Q – it’s effectively invisible. Nobody saw that one coming.

Palm print gun (Skyfall)

Personal safety isn’t always among 007’s priorities, but one of the Walther PPK pistols he uses in Skyfall comes with a special feature that would surely be of interest to anyone who works in the espionage game. The gun is programmed to recognize Bond’s palm print, and won’t fire if anyone else tries to use it – which has to be a big weight off your mind when you’re in a scrap with an evil henchperson. The tech is an update of a personalized rifle Bond uses in Licence to Kill.

(Sony Pictures Releasing)
Smart blood (Spectre)

Trackers have been a staple in Bond movies since the early days, but in Spectre, the latest head of Q Branch tops all his predecessors when it comes to subtlety. And why give 007 a device he could easily lose when you can inject him with thousands of minuscule nanomachines that can give you an update on Bond’s GPS coordinates in an instant? This "smart blood" can also track blood alcohol levels, so M will always know when Bond has had a heavy night on the vodka martinis.

Spectre rings (Spectre)

These exclusive pieces of jewelry do much more than simply signify your membership of Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s exclusive criminal club. Rather subtler than the signet rings beloved of the likes of Emilio Largo in the ’60s, the fashionable bands feature a neat octopus motif, and – most impressive – are sophisticated storage devices containing top secret information about the dodgy organization. They are, sadly, not USB compatible.

Q Branch’s greatest hits (multiple movies)

Many of the best James Bond gadgets never make it out into the field. Instead, they make cameos in the background, as an exasperated Q struggles to make 007 pay attention during his regular briefing sessions. Highlights include a plaster cast missile (GoldenEye), a man-eating sofa (The Living Daylights), a bagpipe flamethrower (The World is Not Enough), an umbrella that engulfs your head (For Your Eyes Only), and a rocket-launching stereo system (The Living Daylights). Most of them look like they were conceived during a Q Branch all-nighter at the pub.


The best gadgets that Jame Bond (and his nemesis) have used throughout the franchise