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

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1974
    Reference No: 5514, caseback stamped 5513
    Case No: 3'804’931
    Model Name: Submariner
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1520, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet, end links stamped 385 & 380, with diver extension stamped "PATETED", max length 190mm.
    Clasp/Buckle: Folding deployant clasp
    Dimensions: 39mm. Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed. Outercase further engraved Rolex COMEX 342, inside caseback 3'804’931 and I.72

  • Catalogue Essay

    For collectors of vintage Rolex sports models, few models have captured their attention as much as COMEX models over the recent past. 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. Each inside caseback, would bear the full serial number that should, like in the present watch, correspond to the number found between the lugs at the 6 o'clock position. The outside caseback is further engraved with the COMEX issue number, this very light three-digit engraving would most often have been polished off, but in the present watch remains crisp and very legible.
    A special gas escape value 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, the tiny helium atoms of the air mixture that COMEX divers breathed would penetrate the case and get trapped inside, causing their watches to burst upon resurfacing. The helium escape valve was a brilliantly simple solution that allowed the 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’s preserved in overall excellent condition, with a charismatic dial with lovely and consistent latte colored aging on its hour markers and hands.

  • Maker Bio

    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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81

Rolex

Ref. 5514, caseback stamped 5513
A fine and rare stainless steel wristwatch with center seconds and helium valve, made for COMEX

1974
39mm. Diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed. Outercase further engraved Rolex COMEX 342, inside caseback 3'804’931 and I.72

Estimate
CHF30,000 - 50,000 
€27,500-45,900
$30,900-51,500

sold for CHF35,000

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
+41 22 317 81 89

The Geneva Watch Auction: FOUR

Geneva Auctions 12 – 13 November 2016