Overview

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Rolex. A fine and extremely rare stainless steel automatic wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, date, engraved case back, bracelet, “Operation Everest” documentation, box and Guarantee. Made for the Comex “Operation Everest” experiment
On lots marked with an + in the catalogue, VAT wil… Read more The 16610 Everest
Rolex. A fine and extremely rare stainless steel automatic wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, date, engraved case back, bracelet, “Operation Everest” documentation, box and Guarantee. Made for the Comex “Operation Everest” experiment

SIGNED ROLEX, OYSTER PERPETUAL DATE, SUBMARINER, 1000FT = 300M, REF. 16610, CASE NO. T686486, CIRCA 1997

Details
Rolex. A fine and extremely rare stainless steel automatic wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, date, engraved case back, bracelet, “Operation Everest” documentation, box and Guarantee. Made for the Comex “Operation Everest” experiment
Signed Rolex, Oyster Perpetual Date, Submariner, 1000ft = 300m, ref. 16610, case no. T686486, circa 1997
Movement: automatic, cal. 3135, 31 jewels
Dial: black, gloss, dot baton and dagger applied luminous numerals, luminous hands
Case: screw back engraved “Everest 8848m, Comex, 1997”, unidirectional revolving bezel graduated for 60 units
Signed: case, dial and movement
Dimensions: 39.5 mm. diam.; overall length approx. 185 mm.
With: stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet, extendable deployant clasp, “Operation Everest” documentation including press clips, press release, dvd and pictures, punched Garantie dated 09 June 2001 and stamped by Toulouse, France retailer Les Salons Gerbe d’Or, additional bracelet link, sale tag, fitted green presentation box and outer packaging
Special Notice

On lots marked with an + in the catalogue, VAT will be charged at 8% on both the premium as well as the hammer price.

Condition Report

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Lot Essay

Rolex and Comex are one of the most legendary “couples” in watchmaking. It is on Comex request and with Comex’s help that one of the most iconic diver’s watch models ever, the SeaDweller, was born in the early 1970s. The link between the two companies however continued well beyond those first days, always with the goal of pushing the boundaries of research further.

The present piece exemplifies this continued effort to achieve new heights in scientific research and in what is considered humanly possible. In fact, it is a relic and first-hand witness to the “Operation Everest” experiment, led by Comex in 1997. For one month, a group of volunteers – among which Mr. Despiau, the consignor of this timepiece, at the time a 25 years old student – was sealed in an artificial environment simulating the oxygen concentration, pressure, and similar parameters of an ascent to Mount Everest. The group experienced a simulated altitude of 5000 meters above sea level for the first week, 6000 meters for the second week, 7000 meters on the third week followed by a two days “recovery period” at 5000 m., and eventually the last week was spent between 7000 and 8848 meters (the tip of Mount Everest). In the meanwhile a range of physical tests and analysis were performed to evaluate the adaptivity of the human body to such high altitudes, for such a long time, under physical stress. The experiment was extremely taxing on the participants so much that, after reaching 7000 m., three volunteers had to give up due to hypoxia and similar issues.

The watches were presented to the volunteers by Comex patron, Henri Delauze, before the beginning of the experiment and were on the wrists of the participants for the whole time, as documented in many of the pictures and in the video provided with the lot. In fact, the watch will remain on the wrist of Mr. Despiau for years to come, climbing together with his owner – a professional climber and later mountain rescue operator – to the top of many Andean summits, and taking part to rescue missions in the Pyrenees. In fact, the crack present on the bezel occurred during a climbing incident. Mr. Despiau never wanted to have the part exchanged, the crack reminding him of his adventure.

Interestingly, this might be the only one of the “Operation Everest” watches to have a Guarantee. Mr. Despiau explained how in 2001 he decided to go to a Rolex retailer, explain the origin of the watch, and ask for a Guarantee. After checking with Rolex, his request was granted and a punched guarantee was issued.

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