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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: circa 1978
    Reference No: 5514
    Case No: 5'230'271
    Model Name: Submariner "COMEX"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1520, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex pin buckle
    Dimensions: 39mm. Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and buckle signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by a generic box

  • Catalogue Essay

    COMEX models have a special place in the hearts and collections of vintage sports Rolex aficionados. The 5514 has now overtaken other COMEX references as the most sought after; it is the watch to have for any serious Rolex collector.

    The Submariner reference 5514 was specifically developed by Rolex for Compagnie Maritime d’Expertise or “COMEX”, a specialist diving company within the oil industry. Watches were issued to their specialist divers with commonly the dial and caseback watch marked COMEX. The outside caseback is further engraved with the COMEX issue number. A closer look shows two small holes in the caseback; these holes served to fix the back while it was being engraved with the issue number and text.

    A special gas escape valve was fitted to their cases, designed to release built-up pressure from the case during a diver's resurfacing and decompression. While working inside pressure-controlled diving chambers, helium atoms from the air mixture penetrates the case and got trapped inside, causing their watches to burst upon resurfacing. The helium escape valve was a brilliantly simple solution that allowed helium to easily escape. The COMEX offered here is part of the family of some of the rarest of all Submariner models. All COMEX watches and all reference 5514 were exclusively reserved for the firm and never available to the public for commercial sale.

    It is therefore quire rare to find a COMEX model in such an excellent state of preservation with its lightly faded “ghost bezel” and its appealing cream colored indexes and hands.

  • 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. 5514
A fine and rare stainless steel wristwatch with center seconds and helium valve, made for COMEX

circa 1978
39mm. Diameter
Case, dial, movement and buckle signed

Estimate
CHF30,000 - 50,000 
€27,800-46,300
$29,700-49,500

Sold for CHF97,500

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
+41 22 317 81 89

The Geneva Watch Auction: FIVE

Geneva Auctions 13 – 14 May 2017