By the time the Submariner Date Watch 16610 first appeared in the late 1980s, diving technology had evolved to the point where COMEX divers relied on mechanical watches as their sole timekeeping device. Although Rolex continued to supply COMEX with Submariner and Wavemaker watches for about a full decade thereafter, they were rarely used for actual deep-sea diving and were instead given to COMEX executives and other high-ranking employees.
The serial number engraving on the Rolex Submariner 16610 COMEX watch can be found between 1986 and 1997, although the Ref. 16610 itself was not officially unveiled until nearly 1988. Furthermore, it is estimated that only a few hundred watches were produced in total during Ref.’s ten-year period. 16610. 16610 watches were sent to COMEX. Also, since many of these watches are not used for commercial diving, these referees are not uncommon. The 16610 Submariner watch is in significantly better condition than some older COMEX-issued predecessors.
The Reference 16610 was the last Rolex model to feature the iconic COMEX logo on the dial, a relationship between the two brands that ended before the next-generation Submariner watch was launched. What’s more, aside from the engraving on the dial and caseback, the COMEX 16610 watches are otherwise identical to the standard production Reference 16610 Submariner watches as they do not include any additional features such as the prototype helium release found on the Reference 5514 valve.
In general, the Reference 16610 COMEX Submariner is more affordable than other COMEX cheap Rolex watches, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to find or that they’re economical in any way. Regardless of the specific model or its unique attributes, all COMEX Submariner watches are considered the most desirable and collectible fake Rolexes on sale.
The reason COMEX brand Rolex watches are so rare and collectible is that they are never sold in any store, boutique or authorized retailer. To put it simply, there is no way for ordinary people to buy a COMEX brand Rolex watch for themselves. Instead, the co-branded watches were issued only to COMEX divers and other senior company officials. Additionally, these watches are produced in very small numbers, and many of them feature unique details that you won’t find on any standard production Rolex model.
Rolex co-branded dials are very rare, and even the most inauspicious examples usually garner some serious attention. However, the collector’s fascination with COMEX issued watches goes beyond the co-branded dial and is intertwined with the history and heritage that is the foundation of the Rolex brand. Arguably, no other Rolex watch embodies this pioneering spirit more than the COMEX Submariner and Sea-Dweller models, and the dive watch industry as we know it today will always be shaped by the partnership of these two pioneering brands.
Last year we witnessed a major update to the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M series in Basel. As you may recall, these updates showed us a new version of the ceramic bezel, a ceramic dial engraved with a wave pattern, a redesigned helium escape valve, and an upgrade to the Master Chronometer/METAS-certified Calibre 8800. A stainless steel model, 42mm case, and rubber strap for just $4,750, make the Seamaster Diver 300M one of the world’s most valuable items in modern watchmaking. With a fully tested, highly water-resistant, chronometer-grade, magnetic sports watch with a ceramic bezel, there’s no question that it costs less than $5,000. It’s amazing!
With the arrival of this version, expected sometime in the spring, it will feature a case made from polished and brushed ceramic, and a caseback made of grade 5 titanium. The bezel is also made of grade 5 titanium, and the inner ring is black ceramic. The diving scale on the ring is white enamel, providing the perfect contrast, which translates to great legibility. In fact, there is also a great contrast on the dial, which is also brushed ceramic, although in this case the familiar wave pattern is a laser-engraved positive relief, which hides the date window. The core range of the Seamaster Diver 300M has a 42mm case, while this one is 43.5mm. In addition, this new model comes with a black rubber strap and a black ceramic clasp.
In my opinion, the Seamaster 300 has the best look I’ve seen since the series was released last year. The stainless steel Master Chronometer Seamaster Diver 300M with a rubber strap is currently only $4,750, while the gold and stainless steel versions on the strap are an astonishing $9,700. Right in the middle, this new ceramic and titanium option feels like a good value.
What interests us is that Rolex uses advanced technology, the METAS certified series movement features the Seamaster Diver 300M in ceramic and titanium. Especially since last year’s brand refresh, the Seamaster Diver 300M does tend to fall behind from a technical and watchmaking standpoint, and as a great value for money, although I personally would have preferred a bit more in terms of design. Luckily, this new model raises the bar and I want to get it on my wrist ASAP, how about you?
For Rolex, they continued to use radium in some mobile models of the dial until the late 1950s. However, with the release of the first GMT-Masters, they opted to light up the bezel numbers at the same time. To do this, they used to paint with a different luminescent composition, strontium 90. Another isotope made by nuclear fission, which is actually quite radioactive as well.
Unfortunately, in August 1961, a Navy major, Willard Mound, sued the company for $5 million, which seemed to be too late. He bought his watch in Hong Kong three years ago and said he, his wife and all of their five children had been severely physically affected by exposure to the watch.
In 1962, Rolex replaced radium with tritium. Another self-luminous element is also radioactive, with a half-life of just 12 years, at a considerably lower, safer level. By comparison, the half-life of radium is 1602 years!
Tritium served Rolex until 1998 when they decided to change the material again, this time to Luminova, a completely non-radioactive colorant invented by Nemoto & Co. Ltd in Japan. While completely harmless, Luminova, unlike its predecessors, first needs to be exposed to light in order to glow.
After only a short run, Luminova was replaced with SuperLuminova in the 2000s. Basically the same, Superluminova is supplied by the Swiss company RC Tritec AG.
Finally, in 2008, Rolex once again upgraded the Chromalight. It emits a stunning blue light instead of green and lasts longer than Superluminova, which debuted on the new Sea-Dweller Deepsea and then rolled out across the portfolio.
In addition to being a useful addition to the hands and hands of a watch dial, the luminous material type is also a good way to judge the age of a Rolex.
Before the AEC called for a recall, the word “Swiss” was printed separately below the six o’clock position near the outermost edge of the dial.
A small dot appears below the hour markers but above the word “Switzerland”, indicating that they still have radium content, but were at lower levels between 1960 and 1963.?
The ‘Underline’ dials were produced for a very short period, between 1963 and 1964. They have a small horizontal line either above or below the hands and are thought to mark the changeover from radium to tritium. Of course, these are very rare and highly sought after on the vintage market.