The Rolex Milgauss: The Scientists Watch
The Rolex Milgauss watch is a classic timepiece that was first introduced in 1956.
Designed to be resistant to magnetic fields of up to 1000 gauss, its iconic orange lightning strike symbol is a reference to the watch’s ability to resist magnetic fields, while the “MILGAUSS” inscription is a combination of the French word for thousand (mille) and the unit of measurement for magnetism (gauss).
It features a 40mm Oyster case, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal that gives a unique green-tint to the face, and a water resistance of up to 100 meters. Its Twinlock crown uses two rubber gaskets to keep water from entering the watch, and, with a soft iron dial, creates a Faraday cage within the watch.
The watch is powered by the Rolex Caliber 3131 movement, which is a Superlative Chronometer certified movement. This ensures the accuracy of the watch and its resistance to magnetic interference. The movement is fitted with a Parachrom hairspring, which is made out of a special alloy of niobium and zirconium, allowing it to be highly resistant to shocks and temperature fluctuations.
The financial performance of the Rolex Milgauss watch model has been strong over the years. The most popular reference numbers for the Milgauss watch model include 116400, 116400GV and 1019.
Rolex Milgauss History & References
The Rolex Milgauss was first introduced in 1956 with the reference 6541 with a distinctive lightning bolt seconds hand and a smooth bezel.
Soon after its release Rolex partnered with CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) to test and prove the resistance of their Rolex Milgauss watch to magnetic fields. Rolex has continued to support CERN, supporting many of its events and conferences.
The Rolex Milgauss went through a few design changes over the years. In 1966, the reference 1019 was introduced which featured a new dial design, a redesigned bezel and the movement was upgraded. This version remained in production until 1988 when it was eventually discontinued.
In 2007, Rolex re-introduced the Milgauss with a new reference 116400GV. This model celebrated CERN’s completion of the Large Hardon Collider. It featured a black dial with a green sapphire crystal, known as the Glace Verte (GV), which represented the insulation of the watch against magnetic fields. It also featured a redesigned Oyster bracelet and a new movement.
The Rolex Milgauss Z-Blue arrived in 2014 also replacing the typical white dial with an electric blue dial. It maintains the green sapphire case and orange second hand.
When the Rolex Milgauss initially hit the market, sales struggled compared to other models, which was likely down to its timing, since there were already some very similar, and already very popular, early Submariner’s on the market. However, since the new references burst onto the market in 2007 with their distinctive green sapphire crystal, they have proven to be especially popular. The green sapphire crystal gives the watch a unique look that sets it apart from other Rolex watches.
Rolex Milgauss Prices
The prices for the Rolex Milgauss can vary depending on several factors, including the reference, condition, and availability.
The price for a new or pre-owned reference 116400GV tends to be higher than the standard reference 116400, due to its green sapphire case. New, you can expect to pay around £13k, while pre-owned prices can range from £10k to £12k, depending on the condition of the watch.
New Rolex Milgauss:
- Reference 116400: Approximately £12,500
- Reference 116400GV: Approximately £13,000
Pre-owned Rolex Milgauss:
- Reference 116400: Depending on the condition, prices can range from £8,000 to £10,000.
- Reference 116400GV: Depending on the condition, prices can range from £10,000 to £12,000
Vintage Rolex Milgauss Prices
Collectors of vintage watches should be on the lookout for the Ref 1019, which was produced from the 1960s to the 1980s. Due to its low demand at the time, this reference was produced in small numbers and therefore is regarded as quite rare. The dial of the reference 1019 is available in either black or white, and it has applied baton hour markers and a printed minute track. The hour and minute hands are also made of stainless steel, and they are filled with luminescent material for enhanced visibility in low-light conditions.
The CERN ref. 1019 is a special version of the Rolex Milgauss reference 1019 that was created for the scientists working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. This version of the Milgauss was specifically designed for use in high-energy physics experiments and had some unique features, including the absence of luminescent material on the dial.
The lack of luminescent material on the dial was due to the fact that the scientists at CERN needed to work in complete darkness when performing certain experiments. The presence of luminescent material on the dial could have interfered with their work by creating unwanted light sources. This version is particularly rare and therefore sells for prices ranging from £18k to £40k.
- Reference 1019: Depending on the condition, prices can range from £18,000 to £40,000.
The Rolex Milgauss reference 6541 is a highly collectible vintage model that was produced in limited numbers from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s. Due to its limited production run and unique design, the Rolex Milgauss reference 6541 is considered one of the rarest and therefore can command very high prices at auction.
It's important to note that these prices are just rough estimates, and the actual prices can vary widely depending on a number of factors. Also, these prices are subject to change over time due to factors such as market demand, availability, and fluctuations in the value of precious metals.
- Reference 6541: Depending on the condition, prices can range from £40,000 to well over £125,000.
Is the Rolex Milgauss a Good Investment?
The Rolex Milgauss has become a popular investment in recent years, particularly since the introduction of its new references in 2007 and 2014. Its popularity can be attributed to a number of factors, including its unique design, the limited number of certain models produced, and its association with CERN.
The Milgauss is particularly sought after due to its history and rarity. Certain vintage models, such as the reference 6541 and the CERN-requested ref. 1019, are particularly rare and can command high prices at auction. The reference 6543, of which only 150 were made, is one of the rarest and most valuable models, with one fetching 271,500 Swiss Francs at auction in 2017.
Recent prices for the Rolex Milgauss have seen consistent appreciation over the years. The price of the Milgauss ref. 116400GV with blue dial increased by over 90% between 2020 and 2022. While prices for the Milgauss vary depending on the specific model and condition, in general, the Milgauss has proven to be a good investment over time.
While it's important to carefully consider any investment, the Milgauss has demonstrated a track record of strong performance and is a valuable addition to any collection.
Q: Does the Rolex Milgauss hold its value?
A: Recent prices for the Rolex Milgauss have seen consistent appreciation over the years. The price of the Milgauss ref. 116400GV with blue dial increased by over 90% between 2020 and 2022.
Q: What is so special about the Rolex Milgauss?
A: The watch is designed to be resistant to magnetic fields of up to 1000 gauss, meeting the demands of scientists and engineers all over the world. Models released from 2007 also boast a green sapphire crystal, which is unique to the Milgauss collection.
Q: Has the Rolex Milgauss been discontinued?
A: No. Rolex did have a break in producing watches from this collection between 1988 and 2007, but new references for this collection are currently in production (2023).
Q: How long is the waiting time for a new Rolex Milgauss?
A: The waiting list for a new Rolex Milgauss is approximately 6 to 12 months. Pre owned Rolex Milgauss watches in pristine condition are available immediately from WatchCentre.
Q: How much is a Rolex Milgauss?
A: The prices for the Rolex Milgauss can vary depending on several factors, including the reference, condition, and availability. The price for a new or pre-owned reference 116400GV tends to be higher than the standard reference 116400, due to its green sapphire case. New, you can expect to pay around £13k, while pre-owned prices can range from £10k to £12k, depending on the condition of the watch.