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Parthian Watch Company

Rolex Ref 5513 Submariner COMEX, RARE early model, with helium escape valve, ghost bezel, 1971

Rolex Ref 5513 Submariner COMEX, RARE early model, with helium escape valve, ghost bezel, 1971

Regular price $57,750.00
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Arguably Rolex best proved its capabilities as maker of indestructible tool watches when the company collaborated with specialist institutions such as the British Royal Navy or COMEX. In these applications watches capable of withstanding extreme environments were heavily relied upon by the divers who were subject to punishing work conditions.

Acknowledged as the pioneers of commercial diving, COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d'Expertise) was established in 1961 by Henri Germain Delauze, who ran the company for over 50 years until his death in 2012. The partnership between Rolex and COMEX spanned twenty-seven years, from 1970 to 1997. Over this period, Rolex produced nine (9) COMEX models, exclusively from the Submariner or Sea-Dweller ranges. These models are always distinguished with the COMEX name and numbering to the case back, and after the first series COMEX also appears on the dial.

A defining feature of these timepieces during the COMEX era was the helium escape valve (HEV). For dive professionals, a common problem was that the build-up of helium gas caused the crystals of watches to pop out. The HEV solved this problem by giving the helium an escape route.

The first watch created by Rolex for COMEX in 1970 was the Rolex Submariner ref. 5513 that featured the HEV. They also later produced the ref. 5514 with the HEV, a reference made exclusively for COMEX. Reportedly, only 154 of these first series 5513-5514 watches were produced making them impossibly difficult to find on the vintage watch market. These watches were kept at company property, and most were destroyed after retirement from service. The next series was the 1680 (featuring a date complication), produced without a valve for one year between 1978 and 1979. The subsequent COMEX Submariners would be produced without a valve due to the introduction of the Sea-Dweller Ref 1655 in 1977 which came standard with the HEV.

The Rolex COMEX reference 5513 HEV along with the military submariner reference 5513/5517 are both very important submariners to Rolex's history and to vintage Rolex collectors.

The Present Early 5513 COMEX

The present watch is a very rare first-batch with "non-COMEX" dial reference 5513 produced in 1971. The case back is engraved with the words "Rolex" and "COMEX" across the case back rather than surrounding the edge; and it also features a small text early batch issue number of "163". This early watch is by far rarer and more interesting than the COMEX dial watches that collectors pay up for.

This watch was originally owned by a shareholder at Shell Oil who gifted the watch to the consigner’s father (pictured wearing the watch). It has not been in circulation.

The case and dial of this Ref 5513 early COMEX are 100% original and untouched. The case shows scratches consistent with age, but the dial is perfect and shows hardly any patina. The “ghost bezel” is the correct Mark II 5513 bezel from early 70s, with the so called “Long 5” font (because the space inside number 5 is elongated instead of square) and a slender number 4 with pointy top. This watch also comes with a similar broken Mark II bezel which the original owner presumably damaged a long time ago.

The bracelet is the correct folded model 9315 with number 280 end links. The bracelet is in great condition showing minimal stretch. If you search for the rare early 1970s bracelet and end links, the combination is extremely valuable.

Technical Data

Calibre: cal. 1520 automatic, 26 jewels

Case: stainless steel, screw-down back engraved "COMEX 163", interior inscribed with 885 and I.70

Closure: stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet and folding clasp

Dimensions: 40 mm diameter, bracelet circumference approx. 175 mm

Signed: case, dial and movement

Accessories: damaged original bezel insert accompanies the watch


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