Coming up in Fine Jewellery, Watches and Silver, 10 July, this Rolex ‘Comex’ Submariner is the ultimate expression of a tool watch. Consigned by the family of the original owner, the dive watch was worn by Johny Henry Simpson (better known as Jack Simpson).
John joined the Royal Navy prior to World War II where he was deployed on Arctic Convoy duties. These were some of the most hazardous convoys carried out by both Merchant and Royal Navy personnel. During his time in the Royal Navy John learnt to dive and on leaving he was a fully qualified diver. He was well placed to take up the position of diver on the Manchester Ship Canal, where he worked on the main dock area at the Manchester end of the canal. He became a top diver and went on to train many assistant divers.
One of John’s pupils joined Comex – providers of cutting edge diving technology – to work on rigs in the North Sea, and he was approached to provide more diver recommendations for the firm. Eventually John himself was asked to dive with Comex on the rigs and this he did for a short while before having to give up due to health issues. Upon his retirement from diving John was presented with this Rolex Submariner by his first diving pupil.
This Submariner, the reference 5513, features a helium escape value at 9 o’clock, a new development for divers working from a diving bell in a helium-rich environment. This reference is the earliest example of the use of an HEV, a detail that would be used in the Submariner reference 5514 and finally find a home in the Rolex Sea Dweller reference 1665. Testament to its hard working life, this watch was regularly checked and serviced while in use. During this time the original dial has been changed to a later service replacement.
To consign to our forthcoming watch sales – we welcome watches from family heirlooms to contemporary acquisitions – please contact Adrian or Nick | firstname.lastname@example.org | +44 (0)1635 553 553