Rolex - Racing Pulse New York Saturday, December 12, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1978
    Reference No: 5514, case interior stamped 5513
    Case No: 5’230’275, Comex issue number 761
    Model Name: Submariner
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1520, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet, stamped 93150, endlinks stamped 580, overall max length 200mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex flip lock clasp stamped 93150
    Dimensions: 39mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    COMEX models have a special place in the hearts and collections of vintage sports Rolex aficionados. During the early days of deep sea exploration, Rolex worked with a number of experts in the field, including the Marseille-based company, COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d'Expertises) - a specialist diving company for the oil industry. These efforts 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 two different timepieces: the Sea-Dweller, featuring a thicker case for improved water resistance, which would eventually be commercialized, and the Submariner reference 5514, featuring the thinner case construction typical of the Submariner, but fitted with a Helium Escape Valve.

    COMEX and Rolex enjoyed a special relationship, and many watches were issued to their specialist divers over the course of decades, with their casebacks and dials marked “COMEX”. All COMEX watches and all reference 5514 were exclusively reserved for the firm and never available to the public for commercial sale. Accordingly, the reference 5514 has grown in the hearts of collectors and has today become one of the most sought-after Submariner models.

    The COMEX name is prominently placed on the dial, as well as engraved to the caseback, along with the COMEX issue number, 761. These 5514 case backs are known with two different variations: early versions feature COMEX straight across the caseback, while later pieces such as the present one instead feature it around the back, close to the rim. Furthermore, three different sizes are known to have been used for the COMEX issue number, with this example featuring the largest size, “big numbers”.

    The present watch stands out for its incredible overall condition. The case is remarkably crisp and sharp. The dial is equally stunning, with a flawless matte-black surface. The luminous hour markers have developed a wonderful patina, taking on an attractive warm sandy hue from aging, perfectly matching its original hands. The bracelet, reference 93150, fitted to the watch is also original and correct for the reference 5514. It is quite rare to find such a well-preserved COMEX model, making it a must-have for any serious Rolex collector.

  • 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, case interior stamped 5513
A very rare and fine stainless steel diver’s wristwatch with Helium Escape Value, Maxi dial and bracelet, made for COMEX

Circa 1978
39mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

$60,000 - 100,000 

Sold for $289,800

Contact Specialist

Paul Boutros
Head of Watches, Americas & International Strategy Advisor
Senior Vice President
+1 212 940 1293

Racing Pulse

New York Auction 12 December 2020