COMEX is a French diving company founded in 1961 to explore the depths of the oceans.. The NASA of the deep sea..
From 1970 to 1997 COMEX worked closely with Rolex and many of their deep sea divers were issued Rolex SD as a tool to do their work. Rolex used this as a way to test some of their new watches and to resolve some with issues from COMEX such as decompression divers and their watches not being able to withstand depths.. The Helium Escape Valve (HEV) was deleloped and tested on 5513 and 5514 (reference for COMEX only) for COMEX before being commercially available in the original SeaDweller in 1967.
COMEX watches have also been associated with records and experiments such as the max depth of 701 meters or the Hydra experiments and its common to see those watches engraved with specifics about the experiments, etc.
What makes them very collectible is that they were never sold by stores (Authorized Dealers) andonly issued to divers or officials and that they were made in extremely low quantities even after all those years with COMEX. They also have special characteristics and unique COMEX serial numbers and engravings in the casebacks which make them very interesting for collectors.
They played a big part of the development of the watches that we wear today.
Model Numbers, production and date ranges.
(1) 1970-1973 Early Submariners Ref:-5513 with valve.
(2) 1972-1978 Submariners Ref:- 5514 with valve, made for Comex only.
(3) 1978-1979 Submariner Ref:- 1680, no valve.
(4) 1977-1980 Seadweller Ref:-1665 with valve and two versions of the dial.
(5) 1980-1984 Seadweller sapphire Ref:-16660 with valve with matt or gloss
(6) 1982-1986 Submariner Sapphire Ref:-16800 no valve with matt or gloss
1988-1989 Submariners Ref: 168000 no valve with glossy dial
(8) 1986-1997 Submariners Ref:-16610 no valve.
(9) 1992-1997 Seadweller Sapphire Ref:-16600 with valve.