Four Rollie Dive Watches – An Auctionary Tale

, Jul 17, 2014
Four Rolex dive watches are coming up for auction in a few days. Fellows, the venerable British auction house, will put a Submariner and three versions of the Sea-Dweller on the block July 21 during their Vintage and Modern Wrist Watches auction.

What’s that, you say? What’s the big deal? That happens all the time?

But these aren’t just any Rolex dive watches. Nooooo... They are a MilSub, two Comex Sea-Dwellers, and one of a limited edition of 50 of the DeepSea from last year. Together they tell a tale of the evolution of the genre over the last forty years.


Who among you can resist the siren song of the MilSub? That innocuous looking Submariner looking for all the world like a routine 5513, but with that distinguishing little circle with the T inside. T for Tritium. Unfortunately, this particular watch (Lot 298) has been reworked some. The sword hands are gone, replaced by the more mundane Mercedes appendages. The solid bars are gone as well, and the bracelet is not original. Sigh… now we understand the relatively low pre-sale estimate of $20,000 to $30,000 when these watches usually go for six figures.


The DeepSea (Lot 254) is the watch that many feel could be dropped from space, and survive the impact with only light scratches to show for its adventure. But what makes this example so cool is it’s status as part of a Limited Edition series of 50 produced to commemorate 60 years of Royal Navy Clearance Diver unit. Oh, and the accompanying copy of the dive logs of the seller – a Royal Navy Clearance Diver (First Class). Said diver’s “skills have been put to use clearing minefields in Libya and recovering munition-filled warships sunk off the Iraqi coast” according to the Fellows catalog.


The Comex pieces (Lots 189 and 255)are perhaps the coolest. Comex signed watches are, of course, the progeny of Rolex’s 1970s partnership with the French dive technology company, Comex. (with a name eerily similar to Rolex, not to mention the extreme goals of each company, the liaison seemed destined.)


But it’s Lot 189 that almost sneaks by as you peruse the pages of the Fellows sale catalog. Closer inspection reveals this watch to be an early love child of the Rolex-Comex partnership. A prototype. An experiment before said partnership was formally consummated with the black-fonted ‘comex’ on a white field taking the place of ‘Sea-Dweller’ on the dials of these watches. Considering the rabid nature of Comex collectors, the pre-auction estimate of $20,000 to $30,000 seems a bit low.

We’ll let you know what happens with each of these pieces next week. In the meantime, you’ll find more info on these watches at the Fellows website.