The Rolex Milgauss is a simple yet unique wristwatch designed to withstand magnetic fields. Its most recognizable feature is the seconds hand shaped like a lightning bolt with an arrowhead at the tip.
This watch was originally intended for scientists and engineers working in environments charged with strong magnetic fields produced by specialized equipment and machines.
Although they may be invisible, magnetic fields can interfere with a watch mechanism. This causes it to deviate and give inaccurate time readings.
History of the Rolex Milgauss
The Rolex Milgauss was officially released in 1956. Before that, Rolex had already released multiple models with unique features or tools for different professions. However, electricity-powered industries were quickly rising and evolving, and a watch capable of working accurately in said environments was yet to be produced by Rolex.
As a result, Rolex partnered with the recently founded European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) to develop a suitable watch for its workers. Due to the nature of their experiments, CERN scientists required a watch that could tell the time with precision inside their magnetic-charged facilities.
This is how the first Rolex Milgauss generation was born. These watches were built with an internal shield made of ferromagnetic alloys capable of redistributing the magnetic fields. Hence, manufacturers keep the internal mechanical movement entirely safe and unaffected. However, this also means that the watch function must be as simple as possible to prevent leaks or flaws within the shield. Therefore, these watches only tell the time and don't have any other function or feature, such as the date window in most Rolex watches.
The Rolex Milgauss name comes from its ability to withstand up to 1,000 gauss. Mil is a reference to the French word Mille, which means thousand. On the other hand, Gauss is the measurement unit for magnetic fields.
By that time, anti-magnetic watches could only resist 200 Gs. Therefore, this new watch was a great improvement and an ally to the scientific community.
The first Rolex Milgauss was the Ref. 6543. However, this version was released in 1954 and is extremely rare, with less than 200 watches ever produced. The Ref. 6543 is often regarded as a prototype version of the authentic Milgauss.
The official public release of the Milgauss was 2 years later, in 1956, with the Ref. 6541. Furthermore, the second generation of Milgauss came quickly, with the Ref. 1019 in 1960. This generation didn't have the iconic lightning bolt-shaped seconds hand, and the entire Milgauss collection was discontinued in 1988.
However, Rolex released a new version for the Milgauss in 2007. The reference number for these watches was 116400. Some of them featured a green sapphire crystal.
Rolex Milgauss Models
Rolex hasn't released many versions of the Milgauss collection. Nonetheless, they are highly valuable and popular among collectors and users worldwide. Some of these versions in the list are:
- Rolex Milgauss 6543: The 6543 was a prototype model for the original Milgauss. It featured a rotating black bezel and a 38mm stainless steel case and a bracelet. Also, it featured an acrylic crystal. Furthermore, less than 200 copies were made. This model was released in 1954.
- Rolex Milgauss 6541: This was the official first version of the Rolex Milgauss. It came with either a black rotating bezel or a smooth fixed bezel. Also, it featured a 38mm stainless steel case and oyster bracelet with an acrylic crystal. This version was designed with a seconds hand shaped like a lightning bolt, and the only available dial color was black. This version was released in 1956.
- Rolex Milgauss 1019: The Ref. 1019 is the second generation of Milgauss. It features a smooth fixed bezel, a 38mm stainless steel oyster case, and an acrylic crystal and oyster bracelet. The dial options increased to black and silver, having two versions of the silver one, a regular version (with luminous markers) and the Cern version (without luminosity). Lastly, Ref. 1019 replaced the lightning bolt hand with a regular straight hand. This version was produced between 1960 - 1988.
- Rolex Milgauss 116400: This is the third generation of the Rolex Milgauss. This version replaced the 38mm stainless steel case with a 40mm one. Moreover, the acrylic crystal was replaced with a sapphire crystal, and the lightning bolt seconds hand was used again. However, this time in bright orange color. The dial colors available are black, silver, and blue. All of them feature orange details. Lastly, this watch is powered by a caliber 3131.
- Rolex Milgauss 116400GV: A unique version with the reference number 116400GV was also released. This version has a green sapphire crystal instead of a clear one. Moreover, the currently produced Milgauss only comes with this green sapphire crystal. This version was released in 2007.
Rolex Milgauss Features
There are not many different features of Rolex Milgauss since there are not many variations.
- Inner shield: The most important feature of the Milgauss is the inner shield made of ferromagnetic alloys. This protects the caliber from magnetic fields and prevents it from deviating. This inner shield only has two openings for the hands and the crown. Furthermore, the watch is not designed with any other unique function that could complicate the mechanism or create additional openings. This way, it is easier to keep the inner mechanism protected.
- Case and Bracelet: The Rolex Milgauss has only been produced on stainless steel. There are no versions made in precious metals. The modern versions are made of Oystersteel - 904L.
- Dial: The first generation only had a black dial. The second generation added a silver dial. Meanwhile, the current generation added a Z-blue dial as an option. A special CERN dial was designed for the Ref. 1019 which was silver without luminous markers. The Ref. 116400 black dial possesses orange details and "Milgauss" inscribed also in orange in the minute track. Meanwhile, the silver version added bright orange luminous markers. Lastly, the blue dial comes with white markers and is the most popular option.
- Lighting bolt seconds hand: The most recognizable feature of the Rolex Milgauss is the seconds hand. However, this feature was not added to the second generation. Nowadays, the hand comes in matching bright orange color.
- Crystal: The crystal was originally made of acrylic. However, it was later replaced with a clear or green Sapphire crystal depending on the model. Current versions are only produced with the green sapphire crystal.
Celebrities Wearing A Rolex Milgauss
Although the Rolex Milgauss has a simple design and function, its bright orange details and the unique lighting bolt seconds hand are highly appealing to celebrities. Some of the celebrities who own a Milgauss include:
- Jennifer Anniston
- Daniel Craig
- Tom Hanks
- Orlando Bloom
- Eric Clapton