When Rolex turns to you for expertise, you’re doing something right. That was role of Comex in 1970, a French dive company that aligned well with Rolex’s aims to push the Submariner to new depths. The strategic partnership was simple: Rolex provided Submariners and Sea-Dwellers to Comex free of cost and, in return, Comex tested them in-field to extremes and provided Rolex with detailed performance reports. What you’re looking at is the tip of the spear in dive watch tech from 1989.
In the ref. 16610, it is estimated than no more than 250 examples were ‘issued’, or perhaps commissioned is more appropriate, for Comex. Those astute readers will recognize that the 16610 is the ref. that transitioned the date Sub into the modern era. Much was lost over the course of its evolution, which is why examples from toward the start (1988) of production are more highly collected. First, the dials started in tritium and were replaced with Super-Luminova. This is the former. The early examples also came with a 93150 bracelet with folded clasp, the heavy 93250 bracelet came with the Luminova. Perhaps most notably, however, the reference started with drilled lug holes. Nothing is more practical for a steel tool watch and it is this simply drilled hole which I miss most in modern Subs. That was lost too, halfway through production.
What you’re looking at is a Comex 16610 from this earlier half of production, meaning we get all those vintage charm points. Moreover, tritium dial 16610s for Comex are a seriously rare and sought after thing, it is estimated that of the 250 total Comex subs in the reference, just 150 or fewer are tritium dials. These were never sold publicly and have only made their way to market over time from original owners who worked for Comex or their families. Each you see is a watch that has been tested in the most extreme diving conditions, saturation or otherwise. This is very literally one of the Subs responsible for developing the next generation. That’s really worth something, more than just the stamp on its dial (cool as it may be).
This example is in decent overall shape. The case has definitely seen a polish but retains full lugs. There’s moderate surface wear, lighter on the top and heavier on caseback. Its dial is truly great, well-preserved and starting to go cream. The Comex block is clear as is all printed text. It comes with its full set from a well-regarded Parisian retailer.
Find this Comex 16610 here from Tokant Paris for 120000 EUR.