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Submariner 'Comex' Stainless Steel - 1680

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We are very excited in offering a pair of Rolex COMEX Submariners that were purchased from the original owner, these comprise of a 16610 that formed a commemorative piece for a lifetimes service, and the other a 1680 that was presented and used by the professional diver during his employment with the COMEX company. Both watches are accompanied with respective letters, photographs and other original items confirming their provenance.

The name COMEX is an acronym for Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises. Frenchman Henri Germain Delauze created the company in Marseille. This was after a diving career of approximately 30 years. His career was made up of both military and commercial experience and included secret missions for the US Army. During the 1950s he crossed paths with Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and they worked together on several projects.

All this experience prepared Delauze for an industrial career that challenged the depths of the sea. And by the time the 1970s rolled around, the world had an oil crisis on its hands. One answer was off-shore drilling. That meant more underwater work. COMEX was one of the main organizations in the world able to carry out underwater repair of the off-shore oil rigs.

Ultimately, COMEX facilities included a research and development centre, a simulation centre, manufacturing facilities, and 2000 employees around the world. 800 of those employees were divers. During the 1960s and 1970s, COMEX divers set numerous time-at-depth records in actual and simulated conditions.

As you can appreciate these divers required dependable quality watches with unique features beyond keeping simple accurate time. Namely, helium escape valves. COMEX came to Rolex for these watches. Rolex had developed and patented this feature in the early 1960s, following the suggestion of U.S. Navy diver, Bob Barth.

This brought the introduction of the Rolex COMEX Submariners and Sea-Dwellers. In all, nine references qualified to carry the black-on-white COMEX label and engraved caseback, the 5513, 5514, 1665, 1680, 16600, 16610, 16660, 16800, and 168000.

The current owner acquired the watches from the family of Mr Pierre Becker, a diver who worked for COMEX authenticated by the documentation accompanying both watches. Mr Becker, after finishing his career with COMEX started his own company Geocean with the founder of COMEX Henri Delauz, which specialized in underwater works. These two watches have been appreciated and enjoyed, and this is the first time for them to come to the market and publicly offered for sale.

Rolex Submariner reference 1680
This Rolex Submariner 1680 is the watch that was originally worn by Mr Pierre Becker on numerous dives during his service at COMEX with several photographs documenting this.

Mr Becker was given the watch by Mr Pierre Phian in 1974 who oversaw the watch assignment at COMEX. The serial number 323**** dates this Submariner to circa 1973.

There is a letter from COMEX advising the watch being issued along with dive equipment to Mr Becker. There are also other letters from colleagues of Mr Becker confirming him using the watch whilst in the employment of COMEX.

The watch is overall in good condition with honest signs of use. We have left the watch as we received it, so the watch bears the scars and patina of a life of enjoyment and being used for its intended purpose as a professional tool watch.

As with all professionally worn dive watches, they always had to be regularly serviced, this statement is backed up by this Submariner having several service engravings to the inside of the caseback. As you can appreciate during these multiple services, some items had to be replaced ensuring the watch could be used as a lifesaving tool, these updates consist of the bezel insert, calendar date wheel dial, hands, ‘Triplock’ crown and bracelet.

Obviously, the question we asked ourselves when reviewing this watch, was why it did not have the COMEX markings on the dial or issue number or the caseback.

It is our understanding that several Submariners like this example, were purchased or gifted pieces rather than formally issued watches by COMEX. It is believed that they were available to purchase through the company to employees at a discount, many came with punched papers and the dealer details section were just printed COMEX.

We believe this Submariner 1680 was issued to Mr Becker. It is our intention to leave it to market to ascertain a value for the watch, with such authentic provenance.

Whatever the opinion, we regard it as an interesting piece and as a pair with the second watch, a nice collectors set with a wonderful history.

This watch also comes with many accompanying items, listed below:

- COMEX ‘En Temoignage de Dix Annees De Collaboration’ Medallion, with Pierre Becker’s Name, Dated 28-11-71.
- Business card of Henri Delauze, with Comex Card.
- ‘Club Des Amis De LA COMEX’ Keychain/Medallion.
- Photo of Mr Becker with the watch.
- Letter advising, he received the watch from in 1974 from Mr Pierre Phian (who oversaw watches for assignment), he confirms he used the watch during his service at COMEX.
- COMEX Sewn Badge for dive suit.
- ‘Un Conquerant sous la mer – Henri Germain Delauze’ Book - addressed to Mr Becker.
- Several COMEX and other marine magazines.
- Several letters and copies of emails (in French).

Rolex Comex Submariner Reference 16610
This Rolex Comex Submariner reference 16610 is a commemorative piece. The diver bought the watch with authorization from Henri Delauz for his son in 2003, and the watch itself was manufactured 1997 with a U serial number range.

The overall condition of this Rolex COMEX 16610 is very good. Again, we have left it with the original, unpolished case and no parts changed.

This stunning watch bears all the correct markings and provenance with the COMEX emblem on the dial, correct markings and guarantee/certificate showing that it was supplied by COMEX.

This watch also comes with many accompanying items, listed below:

- Box, labelled 16610.
- Punched papers, stamped by COMEX.
- Your Rolex Oyster booklet (Dated 1997).
- Rolex Submariner Booklet (Dated 1996).
- Translation Booklet.
- Calendar Card (1997,1998).
- Card Holder.
- Anchor.
- Swing Tags (with serials).
- COMEX Business Card for Pierre Becker.
- Signed letter from Pierre Becker confirming he purchased the watch as a gift for his son in 2003.
- Various photos of Pierre with the watch.

In summary, we are very excited to offer these COMEX Submariner’s as a pair and believe it as the correct way for them to be sold.
As you can appreciate with such a rare pair of Rolex Submariners we have reached out to our trusted and recognised leading authorities in the vintage Rolex community. They have agreed with our findings of both watches.


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