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

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1986
    Reference No: 16660; inside caseback also stamped 16660
    Movement No: 1’842’020
    Case No: 9’304’638; repeated in inside caseback
    Model Name: Sea-Dweller "COMEX"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 3035, 27 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet stamped 93160, endlinks stamped 592, max length 230mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster deployant clasp stamped “J12” for December 1985
    Dimensions: 40mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement, bracelet and clasp signed.
    Accessories: Accompanied by punched guarantee certificate, product literature, extra link and diver’s extension, hangtags, fitted presentation box, and outer packaging.
    Literature: This watch was featured on page 112 of John Goldberger’s A Journey Into the Deep.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rolex’s reference 16660 Sea-Dweller was first introduced in 1978 and remained in production for only a decade before being discontinued in 1988. Sought-after by collectors and aficionados worldwide, the model is considered to be a transitional link between “old school” production and modern. The watch was originally devised bearing a matte dial with tritium lume plots applied directly on its surface, whereas later examples of the reference 16660 feature white gold-rimmed indexes and glossy dials, traits which will come to define the later production of Rolex diver’s watches.

    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. 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”. Like many “issued” Rolex watches, the inside case backs of COMEX watches would bear the full serial number (or in some instances the last 3 digits) corresponding to the number found between the lugs at 6 o'clock. The size and font of the engraving on the caseback would undergo stylistic changes as well.

    Given the intertwined history of COMEX and Rolex diver’s watches, the rarity of these models, the professional vocation of the piece sublimely exemplifying the core values of Rolex, and the dramatic aesthetic impact of the COMEX logo on the dial, these rare pieces reside at the top echelon of collectability for Rolex sports watches. Further escalating this example’s desirability, the present COMEX reference 16660 was featured in John Goldberger’s opus on Rolex diver’s watches, A Journey Into the Deep, offered with a full suite of accessories, including its punched guarantee with the code “119” for France/COMEX. A truly rare opportunity for the connoisseur, it is preserved in beautiful condition with a lovely patina to the tritium hour markers.

  • 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; inside caseback also stamped 16660
An important and extremely rare stainless steel diver's wristwatch with helium escape valve, bracelet, made for COMEX, with guarantee and presentation box

40mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement, bracelet and clasp signed.

$40,000 - 80,000 

Sold for $119,700

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