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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1982
    Reference No: 16660
    Movement No: 0'739'115
    Case No: 7'336'314
    Model Name: Sea-Dweller "COMEX"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 3035, 27 jewles
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster extendable bracelet stamped "592" and "93160" to the endlinks, max length 200mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp stamped "S", "V8", and "93160"
    Dimensions: 40mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and clasp signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by undated Rolex punched Guarantee, additional extendable link, bracelet removal tool, calendar card, green document holder, product literature, presentation anchor, numbered sale tag, "faux seal" tag, fitted presentation box and outer packaging

  • Catalogue Essay

    Reference 16660 was introduced in 1978 and remained in production for only a decade, being discontinued in 1988. Highly collectible and sought-after, the model is in the eyes of Rolex collectors a sort of transitional link between “old school” production and the modern one. In fact, the watch was originally devised bearing a matte dial with tritium lume plots applied directly on it - such as the present version - thus following in the path of its ancestor reference 1665. However, later examples of reference 16660 feature gold-rimmed indexes and gloss dial, traits which will come to define the later production of Rolex diver’s watches. To our knowledge, the present example is one amongst the first batch, of which less than 100 examples were fitted with a matte dial.

    The caseback as well presents an evolution; early versions read “Rolex Patent” where as later versions were changed to “Rolex Oyster Original Gas Escape Valve”.

    Its peculiar place in the evolution of Rolex diver’s models already make ref. 16660 one of the most appreciated and collectible, but the present piece truly is a step beyond the “usual” 16660 - even one in condition as remarkable as this one.The watch is in fact a COMEX issued model, as it is obvious with the most cursory glance at the dial and caseback.

    A pioneer of deep sea exploration, COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d'Expertises) first contacted Rolex in 1963. This resulted in a number of modified Submariner ref 5513 - some of them featuring Helium Escape Valves - issued in the mid-to-late 1960s. These first experiments would eventually lead to the development of the Sea-Dweller, featuring a thicker case for improved water resistance, which would eventually be released to the public in 1971.

    Given the intertwined history of COMEX and Rolex diver’s watches, the rarity of these models, the professional vocation of the piece sublimely exemplifying the core values of Rolex, and the dramatic aesthetic impact of the COMEX logo on the dial, these rare pieces reside at the top echelon of collectability for Rolex diver’s timepieces.

    This watch is complete of absolutely every accessory it was originally delivered with, including the Rolex anchor and the numbered sale tag. This detail, paired with its superlative condition, make this timepiece the "ultimate" COMEX 16660 in terms of collectability.

  • 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. 16660
A fine and very rare stainless steel automatic wristwatch with center seconds, date, gas escape valve, bracelet, guarantee and box, made for COMEX

Circa 1982
40mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

Estimate
CHF60,000 - 120,000 
€55,600-111,000
$65,400-131,000

Sold for CHF239,400

Contact Specialist

Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Watches, Continental Europe and the Middle East

41 79 637 1724
[email protected]

The Geneva Watch Auction: XII

Geneva Auction 6 - 7 November 2020