Rolex is one of the best luxury watchmakers in the world. The global company has made sophisticated classic watches since the company was founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1905. The brand has become synonomous with success and prestige. The watches are reliable and precise. They are waterproof and dustproof. They are made in classic style that are timeless.
During the 1940s and 1950s, Rolex built its reputation on designing “Tool” watches. These are watches made specifically for certain professions and hobbies. No longer was the Rolex simply a dress watch, but each model had specific functions that aided a man in his work. The Datejust model was created for military use. The GMT-Master was designed for aviators. The Daytona was created for race car drivers. The Submariner was made for divers. The Explorer was created designed for outdoorsmen.
Rolex designed the Milgauss model during the 1950s at the request of scientists and is often called “The Scientist’s Watch”. Scientists working at Switzerland’s CERN power plant needed a watch that would not be rendered worthless with exposure to magnetic fields. Rolex created a watch encased in a Foraday cage. Michael Foraday invented the material in 1836. The cage is made with material that redistributes electromagnetic charges through the cage’s material to neutralize the charges.
The result was a watch that would remain accurate and precise even when exposed to magnetic exposure. The watch is named the Milgauss because it can withstand 1000 gauss and keep reliable time and can be worn by workers including scientists, medical technicians and researchers.
The first Rolex Milgauss watch debuted in 1954. The watch looked similar to the Rolex Submariner but had a larger casing because of the anti-magnetic cage. The case was between 38 and 44 mm. The watch’s original design was simple and classic. It was typically combined with the simple, masculine Oyster stainless steel bracelet. Early Milgauss watches featured 1/5 of a second hash marks. Later models feature 1/2 second hash marks. The Milgauss originally featured a unique lightening bolt shaped second hand reflecting its ability to maintain precision within electric fields.
The Milgauss was well-received by those working around magnetic fields, but as a dress watch it was not as popular. It was large. The model was discontinued in 1988. Because of this, vintage models made from 1954 through 1988 are valuable. Rolex began making Milgauss watches again in 2007. The newer watches are considered classic. Celebrities are often seen sporting a Milgauss watch. The watches are valuable today.
Here are the top five Rolex Milgauss watches.
1958 – 6541 Original Model
$113,000 sold at auction in 2009
The vintage watch was made in 1958. It has all of the features of the original Milgauss model including a 35 mm stainless steel case. It uses self-winding movement, is water and dust proof, and has the highest level of electromagnetic resistance. The bezel is black and rotating and can be used as a rudimentary timer. The original Milgauss has the unique lightning bolt second hand, a honeycomb dial and a double layer of glass that gives visual depth. The glass is made with high quality green sapphire crystal. The watch was once owned by NASCAR champion driver Richard Petty. He later sold it because he felt the case was too large. Today, the vintage Milgauss is more valuable than ever because it is so rare.
1967 – 1019
$25,500 at auction
This classic 1967 Rolex Milgauss watch recently sold at auction for over $25,000. Unlike the original Milgauss, those made in the 1967 lost the lightening bolt second hand but pared it down to an arrow head second hand. It is red. “Milgauss” is written in distinctive red lettering. The case is 38 mm. The face is striking white and the dial silver. The vintage watch has a sophisticated linking Oyster bracelet.
1981 – 1019
$24,500 at auction
This vintage early 1980s Rolex Milgauss watch is rare and recently sold at auction for nearly $25,000. The case has the anti-magnetic cage and is dustproof and waterproof. The unpolished case and black dial are rare. The bezel is flat. The watch features the classic second generation Milgauss red arrow tipped second hand and red “Milgauss” logo. This watch is from last years of the second generation Milgauss watches made before the model was discontinued for 20 years. It is a rare yet iconic model of Rolex’s “Scientist’s Watch”.
1966 – 1019
$20,000 at auction
The 1966 model is simpler than the original Rolex Milgauss. The second generation Milgauss watches dropped the rotating bezel and the lightening bolt second hand. The second hand has a red arrow on its end and the “Milgauss” logo is boldly written in red. This watch features an Oyster Date Case and a flat bezel. The black face is simple and sophisticated as is the Oyster link bracelet in polished stainless steel.
2008 – 116400
$7,250 at auction
This newer model Rolex Milgauss was recently sold in Sydney, Australia. It features a white dial with the Milgauss classic orange electric bolt second hand and orange second markers. The dial is a striking white and the stainless steel case is highly polished. The watch is satin brushed and features the classic Oyster bracelet with a solid clasp. The casing is large, 40 mm. The bezel is polished stainless steel. The glass is sapphire crystal. The watch is dustproof and waterproof to 100 meters. Of course, this watch features the Milgauss anti-electromagnetic cage so it keeps the most reliable and precise time.
Rolex engineered the Milgauss watch specifically for those working in science and technology fields. The watch is not only a handsome symbol of success and sophistication, it contains anti-electromagnetic properties so the watch will run precisely and always be reliable even when working around magnetic fields. Scientists, lab workers, hospital technicians and power plant workers would have a watch that worked and looked good.
Although the watch was not initially popular as a dress watch, it has become an iconic piece of Rolex history. Older Milgauss watches are valued for their rarity, technology and simplicity. Newer Milgauss watches are designed more for fashion than function but maintain their maintain their main functional role. Rolex created an innovative “Tool” watch that remains popular and respected today.