A review of the 5513 Comex

Feb 18, 2015,00:25 AM

During the late 1960s, commercial work in the oceans and seas created professional diving organizations that needed tool watches designed for conducting safe diving operations at greater depths – known as saturation diving.

This led to the development of the first ‘ultra water resistant’ watches. In collaboration with COMEX - a France-based professional dive company which is considered as the NASA of the sea - Rolex developed its “Submariner” model to meet the most stringent technical and professional demands of the professional deep-sea diver.

In the process, Rolex eventually produced a very different watch from the Submariner, the “Sea Dweller”.The genesis of these watches has already been described on the forum:



COMEX divers not only needed solutions for water resistance at extreme depth, they also faced the danger of explosive decompression caused by helium penetrating the interior of the watch (divers breathed the mixture of oxygen and helium within their hyperbaric chamber after lengthy deep sea dives). To maintain a pressure identical to that underwater, the mixture in the hyperbaric chambers remained the same during the different phases of work and rest periods. This system was designed to eliminate the need to depressurize the chamber after each phase of work.

Before returning to free air, and depending on the depth attained, a period of depressurization was necessary to equalize the internal and external tension of the human organism. Though the process of depressurization is slow, the gas that accumulated inside the watch, having no means to escape fast enough, exploded the crystal off the watch, thereby risking injury to those inside the chamber and severely damaging an expensive watch.

Rolex collaborated with COMEX to develop a solution by installing a one-way pressure escape valve on the side of the watch case, at the nine o’clock position. The one-way valve will begin to equalize the pressure inside the watch when the difference between the exterior and interior of the watch exceeded 2.5 kg. per sq. cm.

The Helium Gas Escape Valve (HEV) was featured and tested on the Single Red and Double Red Patent Pending Submariner Sea-Dwellers, circa 1967-1969. Once the testing was successfully completed and Patent of the HEV approved, COMEX placed a special order with Rolex for the supply of a number of dive watches featuring the HEV; the first batch consisted of ten thin case Sea Dweller - for the top divers only - and Submariner.

The development and delivery of this unique reference evolved from a modified ref. 5513 to the final ref. 5514 with big case back numbers, circa 1975. The 5513 can be found in a number of iterations:

·         The earliest ref. 5513 COMEX watches that have surfaced circa 1969/70 have non-HEV cases, non-logo dials and case backs which are engraved ‘Rolex Comex.’ The serial number engraved inside the case back matches the serial number between the lugs at 6 o’clock.


·         The ref. 5513 COMEX watches with HEV (an improved version introduced post Patent approval) that followed (circa 1972) were mostly produced with a small or medium sized issue number engraved on the case back and a plain matt non-logo dial.

It is believed that approximately one third of the original issued ref. 5513 COMEX watches had a matt logo dial and very few have survived, thus making the ref. 5513 with the original COMEX logo dial configuration one of the rarest COMEX watches to exist (estimates have been made in the region of 50-60 watches in total).

The watch presented here is the archetype of the 5513 Comex, with its non logo dial and small delivery number.


It comes with a letter from the diver, telling the story of the watch. Of course this is a key feature for such a watch, because the glorious past of the timepiece is exactly what makes it desirable.

The most amazing thing is when such an incredible watch not only a rare piece and a “big soul”…but also a beauty queen !

Source: wikipedia, Worth Point, Ginault.com

This message has been edited by DrStrong on 2015-02-18 00:27:56 This message has been edited by DrStrong on 2015-02-23 23:46:51

More posts: 166555135514Comexdouble RedSea DwellerSubmariner

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Always a pleasure to read more and more on the comex

 By: Bill : February 18th, 2015-01:21
The history from the divers always bring the watches to another level. The diver who owned my comex gave some great pictures and stories to accompany the watch. Thanks Bill ...  


 By: DrStrong : February 18th, 2015-01:32
I have pretty much stuff with my 1665 also....but that does not compare to what I got from the diver when I bought my 5514 ! ...  

I think it is an aspect of Rolex that is almost unique....

 By: Baron - Mr Red : February 18th, 2015-03:13
....because the watches were tool watches, that meant they were "used" and that usage was often colourful and interesting. It just didn't happen with many other manufacturers in the same volume. Sure, Omega, Hamilton, JLC, Blancpain.....all of them had th... 


 By: DrStrong : February 18th, 2015-04:03
...I am prepapring a review of a Rolex Submariner and an Omega Ploprof that I have bought from a couple of retired divers (husband and wife). Both watches have a crazy history and lots of documentation. That was the teaser of the day...LOL !!

that is the best... nothing needs to said

 By: Bill : February 18th, 2015-20:50
a watch with real history is all we can dream of. only a true collector can appreciate the value. Bill

Great Post

 By: Mike1066 : February 23rd, 2015-10:26
Jeff: Great post. Always interesting to learn more about COMEX and the iconic watches that accompanied those divers. Enjoy that watch - it is something special! -Mike

Ah, these pictures...

 By: Anatol : February 18th, 2015-11:48
...cause a very heavy attack of sellers remorse! Beautiful she is without make-up! Enjoy her in good health, Jeff!

Look on the bright side.

 By: Bill : February 19th, 2015-08:28
At least it is in good hands with a loving family. And same for you. Best Bill

You are right, Bill!

 By: Anatol : February 19th, 2015-11:36
Furthermore, even though there is some seller's remorse, there certainly is no buyer's remorse for the replacement I got!

Thanks ! [nt]

 By: DrStrong : February 20th, 2015-01:41

bravo Jeff !!

 By: marcello pisani : February 19th, 2015-10:21
sorry for this late answer but I'm under a flood of messages ( more than usual .. LOL LOL LOL LOL )

Grazie capo !

 By: DrStrong : February 20th, 2015-01:42
lots of watches to expertise I assume ! Thanks and see you soon for some rosé by the Med ;-)

Thanks a lot Ross [nt]

 By: DrStrong : February 20th, 2015-01:43

Small question.

 By: ESE 2A : May 26th, 2015-11:59
What a nice watch Jeff, and super pictures from the "young Comex" period. Ps: are you sure that (as you wrote) the earlier 5513 Comex have NO HEV? I seen a 5514 Cx without HEV (Christie s) but never seen 5513 Cx without HEV Thanks in advance for the answe... 

well ....

 By: marcello pisani : May 26th, 2015-22:31
in my opinion : if there is no valve then also no delivery number as we perfectly know that " nr.1 " has a case number from 1971 and was sold to Comex in early 1972.