Rolex Milgauss Watches Guide

Guide to Rolex Milgauss Watches

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Just as Rolex has created tool watches for sports professionals, they did so for scientists.

One of their most niched offerings, the Rolex Milgauss was created in 1954 especially for those who worked in power plants, medical facilities, and research labs. Exposure to high magnetic fields used to damage watches worn by scientists; but the Rolex Milgauss, designed to shield a watch’s movement for up to 1,000 gauss, changed all that.

Today, the Milgauss has fans beyond research labs and is considered one of Rolex’s most fun and versatile designs. If you want a watch with both personality and history, look no further than the Rolex Milgauss.

 

A Brief History of the Rolex Milgauss

 

The Rolex Milgauss was never the brand’s most popular watch, but it has a very special place in its history. Launched in 1954, it was the first Rolex watch to shield a movement from magnetic fields.

 

Milgauss

 

At the time, most watches were resistant to about 50 to 100 gauss – about the strength of a refrigerator magnet. As scientists, engineers, and technicians worked around magnetic fields, they often found that the movement of their watches were bent or snapped; or damaged altogether. Rolex sought to solve this problem and created the Milgauss.

Tested by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the world’s pre-eminent particle physics laboratory, the Milgauss was found to be resistant to magnetic fields up to 1,000 gauss. Its name was derived from French mille meaning thousand and gauss, the unit of a magnetic field.

 

Browse Milgauss
The original Rolex Milgauss models: ref 6543 (year 1954) and ref 6431 (year 1956).
photos from Christies

 

The first Rolex Milgauss models were the ref. 6543 and 6541. They could be easily mistaken for a Submariner at a glance, because of the rotating bezel, black dial, and Oyster bracelet.

Upon closer inspection, the first Milgauss models had very distinct characteristics. A honeycomb pattern dial, dauphine or alpha hands (in place of the Mercedes hands), a combination of dots and arrows for the hour markers, plus a bright red MILGAUSS name, set the models apart.

Rolex replaced the first two models in the 1970s with the ref 1019; and the design details of the original Milgauss were changed. The ref 1019 never really found it’s footing, and in 1988, Rolex discontinued the Milgauss.

 


 

The Modern Rolex Milgauss

 

In 2007, Rolex surprised everyone at Baselworld with the return of the anti-magnetic Rolex Milgauss. Known for making small, evolutionary changes to their timepieces, Rolex created a splash with a playful, unexpected design.

 

Browse Milgauss
The Modern Rolex Milgauss watches:
ref 116400GV Black Dial, 116400 Black Dial, and 116400GV Z-Blue Dial.

 

For debut of the modern Milgauss ref 116400, Rolex offered three different versions: a white dial version, a black dial version, and an anniversary version with a black dial.

 

Milgauss

 

ref 116400

The first two models feature a choice between a white and a black dial. Rolex went back to the unique lighting bolt shape for the seconds hand and replaced what would have been a clinical polished stainless steel with a bright orange hand. The minutes track and hour markers received the same bright orange. The result was a look that’s clean but far from boring.

 

Milgauss

 

ref 116400GV (Anniversary Model 2007)

This was perhaps the most controversial of the Milgauss models.

The Anniversary Model also had a black dial but came with a green sapphire crystal that was lightly tinted green, which gave the watch a unique green halo. Adding more color to the watch is an orange lighting bolt seconds hand and 3-6-9 markers, plus orange minute indices. The suffix GV stands for French glace verte or Green Glass.

 

Milgauss

 

ref 116400GV (Z-Blue Model 2014)

In 2014, Rolex released an even more colorful version of the modern Milgauss – the Z-Blue dial, named such for its electric blue dial coated with Zirconium. Unlike classic blue watches made by Rolex, the metallic blue dial tends to veer towards green depending on how the light hits it.

It keeps all the same elements as the previous GV model but with the blue dial, this became one of Rolex’s most colorful modern models to date.

 


 

Dial design aside, the modern Rolex Milgauss models run on the same caliber 3131 movement, a COSC-certified movement with anti-magnetic features such as the Parachrom hairspring and a paramagnetic escape wheel.

Rolex eventually discontinued the non-GV Milguass models and currently produces the black and Z-blue 116400GV models. The non-GV Milgauss models are still available in the pre-owned market. Just like the current models, they are very much in demand for those who seek a Rolex, with a “wow” factor.

 

 

PHOTO CREDITS: Rolex Milgauss 6541 and 6543 from Christies
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