Rolex Milgauss: The Anti-Magnetic Tool Watch
The Rolex Milgauss can withstand the strongest magnetic fields, making it the ultimate tool watch. Originally developed for engineers and scientists, today this watch captures the attention of fashion-forward watch enthusiasts and investors alike.
For Scientists, Collectors, and Investors
The Milgauss holds a special position within the Oyster collection. It was the first Rolex watch with resistance to strong magnetic fields thanks to a shield made of ferromagnetic materials. Since its introduction in 1956, this protective shield has been guarding the Milgauss against magnetic fields of up to 1,000 gauss. This also explains the watch's name: It is a combination of the French word for thousand (mille) and the unit of measurement for magnetism, gauss.
This timepiece is also water-resistant to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft) as a result of its screw-down case back and Twinlock crown. This means the Milgauss is not only suited for people who encounter strong magnetic fields in their work, but it is also a universal timepiece that you can wear while swimming or playing sports.
Its design includes a 40-mm Oyster case and a three-piece link Oyster bracelet with polished middle links, both of which underscore the watch's elegant nature. You can't miss the orange, lightning-bolt-shaped second hand, nor the orange "MILGAUSS" inscription and matching minute scale around the edge of the dial.
The Milgauss has the potential to be a great investment. Particularly popular references have been increasing in value. Take for example the ref. 116400 and ref. 116400GV: both of these timepieces appreciated by over 90% between May 2020 and May 2022. Vintage and neo-vintage models are also experiencing similar price increases.
5 Reasons to Buy a Rolex Milgauss
- Anti-magnetic up to 1,000 gauss
- Chronometer-certified Rolex caliber
- Brand recognition: lightning-bolt-shaped second hand and green sapphire crystal
- One size: 40-mm case in 904L stainless steel
- Water-resistant to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft)
Prices at a Glance: Rolex Milgauss
|Reference number||Value appreciation,* price (approx.)||Features|
|116400||97%, 17,000 USD||White dial, clear sapphire crystal|
|116400GV||91%, 16,000 USD||Blue dial, green sapphire crystal|
|116400GV||75%, 14,500 USD||Black dial, green sapphire crystal|
|116400||53%, 15,500 USD||Black dial, clear sapphire crystal|
|1019||30%, 37,500 USD||Vintage watch, black dial, acrylic glass|
|1019||18%, 26,500 USD||Vintage watch, silver dial, acrylic glass|
|6541||±0%, 151,000 USD||1st generation, extremely rare, acrylic glass|
|*between May 2020 and May 2022|
How much does a Rolex Milgauss cost?
The Rolex Milgauss ref. 116400GV, which features a blue dial and green-tinted sapphire crystal, cost about 16,000 USD new as of May 2022. Pre-owned models sell for roughly 14,500 USD. This timepiece has been appreciating steadily since early 2020, rising from around 8,000 USD in May 2020 to well over 15,000 USD at the time of writing two years later. The watch has thus recorded a value increase of over 87%.
The version with a black dial and green-tinted sapphire crystal bears the same reference number. Expect to spend around 14,000 USD for this model in mint condition, and around 12,000 USD for a pre-owned timepiece. This Milgauss model has also seen a significant value increase, appreciating by around 75% between May 2020 and May 2022.
If you prefer the look of clear sapphire crystal, you should keep your eyes peeled for the ref. 116400. This model is available with a white or black dial. The latter changes hands for about 15,000 USD new and 11,500 USD pre-owned. New timepieces appreciated by over 50% between May 2020 and May 2022. The white version performed even better, with prices almost doubling over the same period. This version now requires an investment of approximately 17,000 USD.
Prices for Vintage Milgauss Watches
Fans of vintage watches should be on the lookout for the ref. 1019. Rolex manufactured this model from the early 1960s until the late 1980s. Even though it was in production for over 20 years, it is still relatively rare. Interest in the Milgauss was relatively low at the time, leading to limited production numbers.
You can recognize the ref. 1019 by its polished bezel and straight second hand. It comes in three dial varieties: black, silver, and without luminous material. The third option is also known as the "CERN" dial, since it was commissioned by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). This version is especially popular among collectors and sells for prices ranging from 22,500 USD to 47,000 USD. The model with a silver dial and luminous material (in this case, tritium) cost about 26,500 USD, while the black edition required an investment of roughly 36,500 USD as of May 2022.
One of the earliest Milgauss models is the ref. 6541. This watch's production run lasted from 1956 until the early 1960s. Due to its rarity, it's not uncommon for this reference to sell for over 150,000 USD at auction. However, you can also find timepieces in varying used conditions for around 51,000 USD.
The ref. 6541's predecessor, the ref. 6543, is nearly impossible to find; Rolex only ever made a handful of these watches over a very short period of time. Prices upwards of 150,000 USD are fairly standard. Thanks to their black rotating bezels, Oyster cases, and Oyster bracelets, these early Milgauss models bear a striking resemblance to the first Rolex Submariners.
Milgauss Dials in Detail
The Milgauss comes with a dial in your choice of black, white, or blue. All the hour indices on the white dial are orange. Only the 3, 6, and 9 markers are colored orange on the black dial (ref. 116400GV), while the rest are white. The blue dial features entirely white indices. All three versions share orange Arabic numerals on their minute tracks. The one exception is the black edition with clear sapphire crystal, whose minute scale features rectangular orange markers. Like the Z-Blue dial, this version also has exclusively white indices.
Perhaps the most notable feature of the Rolex Milgauss is its orange lightning bolt second hand ending in an arrow. This extra detail stands out on the otherwise streamlined watch.
In-house Caliber 3131 Since 2007
Current Milgauss watches are powered by the in-house caliber 3131. This automatic movement has a 48-hour power reserve and ticks at 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz). An inner case made of a special metal alloy protects the movement against magnetic fields.
The caliber 3131 premiered alongside the new version of the Milgauss in 2007. It features a stop-seconds mechanism, enabling you to set the time to the exact second. The 3131 is closely related to the caliber 3135, which powers the Sea-Dweller with a date display. A date display would create a hole in the movement's shield; therefore, this feature was purposefully not included on the Milgauss.
The Twinlock Crown: Water Resistant to 100 m (328 ft)
The Milgauss has a moderate diameter of 40 mm and is, therefore, a good companion for both narrower and larger wrists. Its case is made of 904L stainless steel. Rolex has chosen this steel alloy since it is particularly tough and non-corrosive. There's no need to fear being near water when wearing a Milgauss either, as it's water-resistant to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft), so you can leave it on while swimming and snorkeling. Its Twinlock crown uses two rubber gaskets to keep water from entering the watch.
Similar to its case, the Milgauss' three-piece link bracelet also comes in 904L stainless steel. This specific bracelet type is known as the Oyster bracelet, which Rolex uses for many other models. Its middle links are polished, while the outer links have a matte finish. The bracelet can easily be extended 5 mm with the Easylink system and adjusted to fit your wrist.
The History of the Rolex Milgauss
The Milgauss stands out due to its anti-magnetic properties. A special balance spring and a soft iron cage around the movement protect the watch from any magnetic fields. It premiered in 1956 under the reference number 6541. Rolex originally designed the Milgauss for scientists and other professionals who often work near strong magnetic fields. Rolex didn't need to look very far from their own backyard: The nuclear research center CERN, where such conditions are the norm, was founded in 1954 and is also headquartered in Geneva.
The strength of magnetic fields is measured in gauss, named after the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss. Rolex built the first Milgauss to withstand 1,000 gauss, hence the watch's name. Production of the model stopped in 1988, but began again in 2007.