Rolex - The 2021 New York Watch Auction New York Saturday, December 11, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1981
    Reference No: 16800, inside caseback stamped with repeated case number 7’285’787
    Movement No: 0’748’633
    Case No: 7’285’787, 6031
    Model Name: Submariner “COMEX”
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 3035, 27 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet stamped 93150, endlinks stamped 593, max length 240mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp stamped S AD2 and 93150
    Dimensions: 40mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and clasp signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Rolex International Service Guarantee dated 7 April, 2006, and Rolex invoice

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rolex timepieces have long been used as tool watches by professionals, whether the GMT-Master for dual time keeping, the Cosmograph Daytona for seconds timing or the Submariner for diving. On rare occasions, these watches have been associated with partner companies which used Rolex timepieces for daily work in the field. One of the best known associations was between Rolex and COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertise) based in Marseilles, France. Rolex exclusively supplied different Submariner and Sea-Dweller models to their specialist divers with most watches marked ‘COMEX’ on the dial and numbered on the case back. They were exclusively reserved for the firm and never available to the public for purchase.

    Like many “issued” Rolex watches, the inside case backs of COMEX watches bore the full serial number, or in some instances the last 3 digits, corresponding to the case number found between the lugs at 6 o'clock. The ‘COMEX’ and issue numbers engraved on the casebacks for these timepieces evolved across models, with the present example featuring the word ‘COMEX’ around the rim with the large issue number boldly engraved in the center.
    Rolex’s first Submariner wristwatch was released in 1953 with the reference 6204, and has become an iconic wristwatch with many iterations over the decades. Today it remains one of the most sought after tool watches of all times. In 1967, the brand introduced their upgraded reference 1680 the first Submariner with a date function, and in 1979 Rolex released the new 16800 model featuring an upgraded sapphire crystal with a redesigned unidirectional bezel, quick-set date function, and an improved depth rating from 200 meters to 300 meters. The model remained in production until 1988 with early examples like the present watch fitted with a matte dial and luminous indices, while later timepieces featured a glossy finished dial with luminous white gold markers.

    The present reference 16800 is amongst the rarest of all COMEX configurations with its sapphire crystal and early matte dial, with approximately two dozen believed to have been issued. Preserved in superb condition, the case retains its factory original bevels and finished surfaces, with the case back’s engraved issue number “6031” crisp. The inside of the case back is engraved with the full serial number found between the lugs. The Rolex COMEX relationship is well documented and this hardly ever seen matte-dial COMEX Submariner ref. 16800 with Rolex international service guarantee is a wonderful opportunity for the discerning 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.

    View More Works


Ref. 16800, inside caseback stamped with repeated case number 7’285’787
A very rare and fine stainless steel wristwatch with matte dial, date, center seconds and bracelet, with Rolex international service guarantee and invoice, made for COMEX

40mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

$50,000 - 100,000 

Sold for $132,300

Contact Specialist

Paul Boutros

Head of Watches, Americas

+1 (212) 940-1293


The 2021 New York Watch Auction

New York Auction 11 - 12 December 2021