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

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1974
    Reference No: 5514
    Case No: 4'089'845 and 387 to the outer caseback, inside caseback stamped with repeated serial number
    Model Name: Submariner “COMEX”
    Material: Stainless Steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1520, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet with diver’s extension, stamped "9315" and "K6", endlinks stamped "280", with diver extension stamped "PATETED", max length 205mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp stamped "K6" and "9315"
    Dimensions: 39mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement, bracelet, and clasp signed. Dial additionally stamped COMEX. Outer caseback engraved ROLEX COMEX 387.
    Accessories: Accompanied by signed Henry Hudson letter dated 02nd March, 2004, confirming sale of the watch to COMEX Organization in December 1975, and Rolex service guarantees dated 09th March and 27th August 2004.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The 1960s where a period of exploration, innovation, and adventure. Whilst the world was busy looking at the sky with space exploration, moon missions and the future, other pioneers were exploring and pushing the limits of the unknown abysses of the seas. Similarly, to the space race, a competition much closer to the earth began for deepest, darkest parts of the ocean lead by Rolex and Omega who were both eager to prove their cutting edge technologies, discoveries and prowess.

    In 1971, as the story goes, Rolex CEO Andre Heiniger, reached out to COMEX founder, Henri-Germain Delauze with a daring proposal. Rolex would deliver and provide to all COMEX divers Rolex Submariner and Sea-dweller tool watches free of charge in exchange for detailed performance analysis reports. With base in Marseille, Compagnie Maritime d'Expertises (COMEX) was in the 70s and 80s a pioneer diving company for the oil industry. Thanks to the continuous "R&D" conducted by Rolex and precious feedback from COMEX, the Swiss company developed and patented a revolutionary valve that would allow for the decompression and gradual release of helium from tool watches, the Helium Escape Valve (HEV).

    The first reference issued by Rolex for COMEX divers was the reference 5513 - subsequently, from 1974 to 1977 Rolex issued the Submariner reference 5514 like the present exceptional example. Considered by scholars and collectors as the purest of COMEX issued Rolexes, reference 5514 is particularly interesting and noteworthy as it is one of the few tool watches produced bearing the coronet with a specific reference number to its issuing body. The 5514 was also the largest production run model issued to COMEX with approximately a total of 750 pieces bearing case numbers between 3.80 - 5.22M. Featuring an improved HEV (Helium Escape Valve), visible on the present example, reference 5514 were uniquely and exclusively made for the Comex organization and never sold by retailers nor made available to the public for commercial use.

    Part of the second "batch" of issued COMEX 5514's from 1975, the caseback engraving is notably similar in format to the ones used on reference 5513 with the coronet, Rolex and COMEX on the upper half of the caseback with lightly smaller and engraved issue number like the present pristine example. Perfectly matching the case number with the year of production, the present example bears crisp engravings and issue number 387.

    The present Rolex reference 5514 stands out for its outstanding overall condition and stunning patina. The dial has turned to a flawless matte-black surface and the luminous hour markers have developed a warm and extremely enticing light caramel color, perfectly matching its original hands. The case is superbly crisp, sharp and retaining extremely strong and original proportions. The bracelet, bearing reference 9315, with 280 stamped endlinks is correct for this period reference 5514.

    Perhaps most importantly, the watch is accompanied by a coveted “Henry Hudson letter” from Rolex Bexley Kent in the UK, confirming its model and case number as well as its issue to the Comex organization in December 1975. Notably, “Hudson letters” are no longer available from Rolex and have not been issued in many years. The watch is further complemented by two Rolex Service Guarantees from Rolex Japan from 2004.

    It is exceedingly rare to find such a well-preserved COMEX model with confirmation from Rolex, making it a unique opportunity for any collector of issued watches from Rolex.

  • 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. 5514
A superb, sought-after, and highly rare stainless steel wristwatch made for COMEX, with Henry Hudson letter and Rolex Japan service invoices

39mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement, bracelet, and clasp signed. Dial additionally stamped COMEX. Outer caseback engraved ROLEX COMEX 387.

CHF60,000 - 120,000 

Sold for CHF163,800

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