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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1970
    Reference No: 5513
    Case No: 2'837'865
    Model Name: Submariner "COMEX"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1520, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster, reference 93150, end links stamped 580, max length 205mm.
    Clasp/Buckle: Twin lock deployant clasp and diver extension
    Dimensions: 39.5mm. Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed. Outercase further engraved Rolex COMEX 58, inside caseback 586 and III.70

  • Catalogue Essay

    As of the late 1960s, Rolex exclusively supplied different Submariner and Sea-Dweller models featuring the patented helium escape valve, to COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertise) in Marseilles. They were issued to their specialist divers with each watch marked Comex on the dial and numbered on the rear. A gas escape valve was fitted within the case to release built up pressure, preventing the watches from exploding when they surfaced from the depths of the oceans.

    The early “COMEX” reference 5513 offered here is part of the family of some of the rarest of all Submariner models. “COMEX” watches were reserved exclusively for the firm and were never available to the public through commercial production.

    According to the current owner, the watch was purchased from a very good friend of his, who lived in Aberdeen, Scotland. His friend was an ex-North Sea diver and he was originally given the watch in the 1970's by COMEX, who presented it to him, in recognition of completing the company’s first successful contract, linked to the development of the North Sea oil industry. He wore the watch on many dives around the world. It then went to the current owner in the 1980's, himself a keen diver and sailor, who also used this watch daily, in fair and foul weather, as he skippered his own fishing/dive boat.

    Watches from Rolex such as the Military Submariner and as in this example here, the Comex, had a special numbering feature. Each inside case back, would bear the full serial number (or in some instances the last 3 digits) and this would then correspond to the number found between the lugs at the 6 o'clock position.

    It is not uncommon that 'Mil Subs' and 'Comex' watches can be found to have 'non matching' case backs. It is believed by collectors, that at the time in the 1970's and 1980's, they were serviced in batches and this would just be a simple watchmakers error. One has to remember they were important watches in terms of their important use for divers, but not for their monetary value.

    The watch offered here is in completely unrestored condition. Its scratched and scuffed original domed crystal is a true testimony of its active life, while the intact luminous hour markers and hands have beautifully aged to a dark cream color. These unique watches are true tool watches, never available to the public; making the present lot a great opportunity for collectors of rare sports watches.

  • Artist Biography

    Rolex

    Swiss • 1905

    Founded in 1905 England by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis as Wilsdorf & Davis, it soon became known as the Rolex Watch Company in 1915, moving its headquarters to Geneva in 1919. Like no other company, the success of the wristwatch can be attributed to many of Rolex's innovations that made them one of the most respected and well-known of all luxury brands. These innovations include their famous "Oyster" case — the world's first water resistant and dustproof watch case, invented in 1926 — and their "Perpetual" — the first reliable self-winding movement for wristwatches launched in 1933. They would form the foundation for Rolex's Datejust and Day-Date, respectively introduced in 1945 and 1956, but also importantly for their sports watches, such as the Explorer, Submariner and GMT-Master launched in the mid-1950s.

    One of its most famous models is the Cosmograph Daytona. Launched in 1963, these chronographs are without any doubt amongst the most iconic and coveted of all collectible wristwatches. Other key collectible models include their most complicated vintage watches, including references 8171 and 6062 with triple calendar and moon phase, "Jean Claude Killy" triple date chronograph models and the Submariner, including early "big-crown" models and military-issued variants.

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Ref. 5513
A very rare and attractive stainless steel diver's wristwatch with helium valve and bracelet, made for COMEX

1970
39.5mm. Diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed. Outercase further engraved Rolex COMEX 58, inside caseback 586 and III.70

Estimate
CHF30,000 - 40,000 
€27,500-36,700
$30,900-41,200

Sold for CHF56,250

Contact Specialist
Nathalie Monbaron
+41 22 317 81 83

The Geneva Watch Auction: THREE

Geneva Auction 15 May 2016