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A Review of the Rolex Milgauss: Info, History, Reference Numbers, and Nicknames

Magnetic forces are detrimental to the performance of a watch and the Milgauss name says it all—mille is the French word for a thousand while gauss is the unit used to measure magnetism. So, the Milgauss was built to be resistant to 1,000 gauss of magnetic forces, a practical feature for those working in scientific, engineering, and medical fields.

Rolex officially presented the Milgauss to the public in 1956. While the inaugural model was the very rare Milgauss ref. 6543, it’s the Milgauss ref. 6541 from the same year that really set the tone. Considered large for its era, the size and thickness of the 38mm Oyster case of the Milgauss ref. 6541 was necessary to house the metal shield protecting the automatic movement within to make the watch antimagnetic. Topping the case is a black rotating bezel with 60-minute markings very similar to the Submariner. On the distinctive black honeycomb dial sits the iconic lightning bolt seconds hand, a tip of the hat to the scientific community the watch was built for. The Milgauss even carries the nickname, the “Scientist’s Watch.”

In the 1960s, Rolex introduced the very different looking Milgauss ref. 1019 with a simple seconds hand, plain white or black dial, and smooth steel bezel. Rolex eventually discontinued the entire Milgauss collection in 1988.

After such a long hiatus, Rolex unveiled the current stainless steel Milgauss ref. 116400 in 2007 with a larger 40mm Oyster case, black or white dials, and the Caliber 3131. More importantly is the return of the famous lightning bolt hand, this time in bright orange. There’s also the Milgauss ref. 116400GV, which includes a unique green sapphire crystal that gives the watch a distinct look. In 2014, an electric blue dial joined the lineup, dubbed the Milgauss ref. 116400GV Z-Blue edition.

 

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