Rolex COMEX 5514. The Myth
by Ed Delgado
Nothing has capture the imagination of Rolex collectors as the COMEX 5514 and the military sub 5513/17. They hold a very dear place in their harts, as it should.
The 5514 has now surparsed other COMEX watches as the most popular and the watch to have for any serious Rolex collector.
The 5514 models was a batch of watches that was specially made for COMEX and its divers and never sold by retailers.. It was delivered after the successful testing of the 5513 with HEV and COMEX made a special order of these watches.
The magic number that keeps being quoted is that only 154 of these were delivered to COMEX. While that is an urban myth, since there is evidence that many more 5514 were delivered in at least three batches. Each batch has its own characteristics.
Many of us are under the
impression that COMEX got some extra white paint on all their dials, but
this is clearly not universal and from the last batch.
The classic 5514 is as this one with Tritium dial with COMEX logo and big numbers in the caseback, this is the end of the evolution for the 5514..
The watch below, I purchased from our good friend. Its a 5514 with serial dating it to
1974 and delivered to COMEX in 1975. The serials and caseback numbers correspond. The caseback engraving is
correct... but the dial is not what most of us expect..
At first glance it looks like a regular 5513..
But when you turn it over, the usual Rolex COMEX engraving and below at the six o'clock position and almost not visible is a small number "2XX"
Everything else checks out including the non comex dial..
I have done a little research on this and it seems that some of the earlier batches with small lettering did not come with COMEX dial at all. This is why we see some early 5514 with glossy replacement dials with white gold around the markers. This is because some have been sent back to Rolex and the original non COMEX matt dials have been replaced with later COMEX glossy dials.
There are about two types of casebacks.
1. The early watches had Rolex COMEX across the caseback
2. The later watches had large numbers with Rolex Comex around the caseback
Finally to make it more confusing. The COMEX Serial numbers came in about three sizes, small, medium and large.
I apologize that I cannot go into more details at this time as something's are better not published at this time.
In terms of value, I think most collectors prefer the COMEX logo on the dial but its a correct watch for these early watches NOT to have a COMEX dial.
These unique watches are treasured by collectors as they represent the unique blend of two companies.
I think its befitting to close this with an email conversation with a former COMEX diver and these are some interesting tidbits that he shared with me. After all, as a friend, Mr. Pisani always reminds me, these are not just watches, but tools that divers used when they were putting themselves in harms way. We must remember the divers always.