Rolex - The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XII Hong Kong Saturday, June 5, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1973
    Reference No: 5513
    Case No: 3’530’787, COMEX issue number 240, inside caseback stamped “5513, IV.71, 787”
    Model Name: Submariner
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1520, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet stamped “78390”, endlinks stamped “455B”, max length 200mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp, stamped “Z9”, “78350”
    Dimensions: 39mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement, bracelet and clasp signed
    Accessories: Accompanied with Rex Whistler’s Professional Diver’s Log Book, a hardcover copy of “Commercial Diving Manual written by Richard Lam & Rex Whistler” with autograph, Rolex resealing certificate and green watch pouch.
    Provenance: Property from the original owner

  • Provenance

    Property from the original owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    When it comes to professional timepieces that journeyed with mankind to unlock into the world of the unknown, Rolex is certainly the most repute frontiers of these voyages. Engineered to be the most reliable tool to challenge the extremes, from the deepest reaches of the ocean to summiting the highest mountains, Rolex was often known to partner with institutions and expertise to create ever-evolving innovations to push the boundaries of human potentials. One of the most celebrated and historically significant collaborators of which collectors yearn for is the Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises, COMEX. Appointed as the official timekeeper for COMEX in 1971, the development lead to the feature of a helium escape valve (HEV) that was a key success to conquering deeper depths to the bottom of the sea.

    The Submariner reference 5513 was among one of the earliest coronet timepieces that was issued to professional COMEX divers to be fitted with a HEV. Issued between 1971 to 1973, the Submariner reference had a total of approximately only 250 pieces ranging from 2.83 to 3.53 million serial. These early utilitarian tool watches feature a stamped caseback with both Rolex and COMEX logo, as well as individual engraving numbered unique to each diver. Consigned directly by the original owner and COMEX diver, Mr. Rex Whistler, the present ‘non-logo’ 5513 Submariner numbered 240 is from the very last issued batch, and is one of the rarest of all.

    Joining COMEX in the spring of 1973 at the age of 24, Rex Whistler began his diving training at COMEX, Marseilles. Gaining technical expertise in bell diving and physiology and was qualified as Superintendent and Caisson Master at the company. Mr. Whistler was part of a team that support saturation work for construction projects, drilling operations and experimental dives to develop commercial decompression tables primarily in the North Sea and Norway. The present 5513 was not only a constant companion throughout his diving career, it is also the very timepiece that journeyed with him into new depths up to 160 meters among many of his expeditions. Each dive documented into his personal professional diver’s log book, the present lot is offered with the black hard cover bound history of Mr. Whistler’s expertise.

    Before retiring in 2012, Mr Whistler’s career took him from South East Asia, to the North Sea and whilst working as the Training Director for Prodive Ltd, he found time to co-author the Commercial Diving Manual, the standard textbook for commercial diving training in the UK, a reference book that is still in use today and an autographed copy of which is included with this historically important timepiece. A symbol of endurance and passion, and further charmed with the personal properties from the original owner. This admirable 5513 is preserved in excellent condition, and most definitely a true time capsule piece with a man's life story behind, which makes it exceptional collectible for any vintage lovers.

  • 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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Property from the Original Owner


Ref. 5513
A very rare and well-preserved stainless steel diver’s wristwatch with helium escape valve, center seconds, and bracelet, made for COMEX, with diving literature from the original owner

Circa 1973
39mm diameter
Case, dial, movement, bracelet and clasp signed

HK$250,000 - 450,000 

Sold for HK$529,200

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi
Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2031

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XII

Hong Kong Auctions 5-6 June 2021