Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: XVI Geneva Saturday, November 5, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1982
    Reference No: 16660
    Movement No: 0'717'852
    Case No: 7'336'480 inside caseback stamped with repeated case number and issue number 3063 to the outer caseback
    Model Name: Sea-Dweller "COMEX"
    Material: Stainless Steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 3035, 27 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster extendable bracelet stamped "93160" and "592" to the endlinks, max length 225mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp stamped "S", "CL2", and "93160"
    Dimensions: 40mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and clasp signed. Dial additionally stamped COMEX. Outer caseback engraved ROLEX COMEX 3063.
    Accessories: Accompanied by a copy of a COMEX Certificate of Receipt dated 23rd June 1989 confirming sale of the present watch with serial number 7'336'480 to John Anderson, service Rolex Guarantee dated March 03rd, 1992, green document holder, two Submariner product literature booklets, presentation anchor, numbered hang tag, "faux seal" tag, COMEX pin, fitted presentation box and outer packaging and additional VHS cassette. Furthermore accompanied by a copy of a COMEX dive log.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Released in 1978 and in production for only one decade until 1988, the Rolex Sea-Dweller reference 16660 has become through the years an extremely collectable and desirable model. Collectors have realized the importance of this reference as it was a transitional model, acting as a bridge between the past and the future.

    With the reference 16660, Rolex brought about some major changes to the Sea-Dweller model, such as a new sapphire crystal material, new movement, quickset date functionality and doubled water resistance. It is noticeable and key to remember that according to Rolex's timeline the references 1665 and 16660 were simultaneously in production for at least five years, explaining the fact that some early reference 16660s still featured a matte dial with tritium lume plots applied directly on it, like the present example. Later examples of reference 16660 featured gold-rimmed indexes and gloss dial, traits which would come to define the later production of Rolex diver’s watches.

    It is believed that the first 80 to 100 reference 16660 with matte dial and two line text where delivered to COMEX.

    In recent years, COMEX models have garnered recognition and rarity among the most ardent Rolex collectors. Rolex collaborated with several professionals in the sector of deep sea research, most notably COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d'Expertises), an oil industry-specific diving business located in Marseille. COMEX and Rolex had a particular relationship, and over the years, several watches with "COMEX" casebacks and dials were given to its expert divers. The inner casebacks of COMEX watches would, like many special commission Rolex watches, repeat the serial number (either the complete serial or the final three digits).

    It is clear by following the number sequences that Rolex delivered these pieces to COMEX in two main batches or runs. The initial batch of approximately 80/100 pieces arrived in 1982 featuring, like the present extremely rare example, matte dial with case numbers in the range of 7'100'xxx to 7'350'xxx. The remaining batch was probably delivered in 85' with glossy dials and case numbers spanning from 8'350'xxx and 9'300'xxx.

    The present timepiece is however not like any other ultra rare, early COMEX models. It comes directly from the original COMEX Diver, John Anderson, and is accompanied by the original COMEX Property receipt given to him directly in 1982. Preserved in its original state, and thoroughly used with its original intention the watch comes with its complete set of accessories including the Rolex anchor, COMEX pin and numbered sale tag. These details, paired with its super history and provenance, make this timepiece the "ultimate" COMEX 16660 in terms of collectability.

    John Anderson
    John Anderson began his diving career by working as an Ultrasonic Inspection Engineer with Brentfield Construction. It was in 1978 that he joined COMEX, and by 1980 he became a fully trained Mixed Gas Diver.

    Anderson worked in renowned vessels like The Uncle John and the MSV Stadive, from which Mr Anderson was called to assist in the recovery efforts from the 1986 Chinook disaster. The accompanying video, made by the inspection engineers onboard the MSV Stadive, (and featuring Mr Anderson) shows many of the underwater working conditions, a snapshot of divers working life during this period of fast-paced innovation, exploration and daily death defiance.

    After 10 years with COMEX, it was traditional for divers to receive a watch, famously a Rolex dive tool such as this one. Frustratingly for Mr Anderson, when his 10th anniversary arrived, COMEX had switched to a gold Longines dress watch, not the rugged working watch he was hoping for, and felt he deserved. A special request was logged with COMEX, and a Sea-Dweller was made available for private purchase, as detailed on the accompanying receipt for £490, confirming the serial and issue number 3063 but making the mistake that at some point, most people new to the nuance of Rolex nomenclature make, of calling the watch a Submariner Date, rather than Sea-Dweller. The watch remained his daily wearer and trusted dive instrument to this day.

    Mr Anderson made his last saturation dive in 1992 and left Comex 6 years later, continuing work in the industry before retiring to Scotland.

  • Artist Biography


    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, sporty and very rare stainless steel automatic divers wristwatch with center seconds, date, gas escape valve, bracelet, COMEX certificate and box, made for COMEX

40mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and clasp signed. Dial additionally stamped COMEX. Outer caseback engraved ROLEX COMEX 3063.

CHF40,000 - 80,000 

Sold for CHF119,700

Contact Specialist

Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Watches, Continental Europe and the Middle East
+41 22 317 81 81

Tiffany To
Head of Sale, Geneva
+41 22 317 96 63

The Geneva Watch Auction: XVI

Geneva Auction 5 - 6 November 2022