The Rolex Milgauss is an interesting timepiece in the Rolex collection. First launched in 1956 for scientists and engineers, the timepiece derived its nomenclature from the words “mille” and “gauss” (the latter being a unit of magnetic measurement) – literally translating to 1,000 Gauss.
There were two iterations of the Milgauss in the early 50s and 60s – namely the Reference 6541 and 1019. The latter was produced until 1988, where it was discontinued due to the lack of popularity of the model.
The Milgauss follows the concept of using a Faraday cage – made of ferromagnetic alloys – to protect the movement. It consists of two shield, one screwed to the movement and the other to the cage, to prevent the movement’s components from getting magnetized. Its efficacy was proven when the timepiece was sent for testing to The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).
Back in 2007, the Milgauss was once again reintroduced to the Rolex line-up. It was met with mixed reactions initially, but collectors have certainly grown to love this fascinating timepiece over time. So, how does it fare after 13 years? Let us take a more in-depth look of this tool watch.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
The Milgauss is constructed like any Rolex watches – robust yet handsome. The 40mm timepiece straddles between being a tool watch and a rather versatile timepiece – suitable for both casual and more formal occasion. The Oyster case is pretty well-finished, as usual, with a myriad of brushed and mirror-finished polishing techniques.
Fitted to the timepiece is Rolex’s signature Oyster bracelet, which completes the look of the watch. Its reasonable case size and user-centric design means the Milgauss is comfortable on the wrist. Our only qualm perhaps lies on the central link of the bracelet, which unfortunately makes it highly susceptible to hairline scratches due to its mirror-polished surface.
The more polarizing component of the watch therein lies in the dial and hands. The Milgauss is available in a series of dial colours (Z-blue and black; white has been discontinued), of which the electric sunburst blue dial – as seen above – is perhaps the most popular option amongst the trio. It is paired with a green-tinted sapphire crystal, dubbed the “Glace Verde” (literally translates to green glass). It was said that the green sapphire crystal so was difficult to manufacture that Rolex did not even apply for this particular invention. This particular glass sapphire crystal is both scratch and fade proof, and it is only exclusive to the Milgauss collection.
Complementing the dial are the stick indices, which are filled with Chromalight. For the black dial model, the indices for 3, 6, and 9 o’clock are in orange, which accentuates the theme of electricity rather well.
Another notable point is the brilliantly striking orange seconds hand and outer minute track, where the former is also intriguingly shaped in the form of a lightning bolt motif. The Milgauss script on the 12 o’clock position of the dial is similarly in orange as well. The combination is certainly bold, but it definitely stands out as a more unusual timepiece from Rolex.
The Movement: Caliber 3131
Notably, the Rolex Milgauss is powered by the brand’s in-house Caliber 3131. This is a self-winding movement, with a power reserve of around 48 hours. Aside from the Parachrom hairspring (which is anti-magnetic), the watch is also fitted with an additional magnetic shield to protect the movement. Finally, it is Superlative Chronometer certified, and it promises a deviation of not more than 2 seconds a day.
The Milgauss retails at S$11,600. It is slightly pricey for a time-only watch, but this is a Rolex after all. These watches are robust, and they hold their value immensely well.
IWC Ingenieur is one of the main competitors in the field, where it combines both form and functionality together seamlessly. This was especially accentuated in the 1970s, where Gerald Genta reinterpreted the collection and designed a bold luxury sports watch with an angular case and integrated bracelet. The modern variant is a little more subtle, but it is undeniably a good-looking timepiece. Priced at CHF 5,900 (approximately S$8,895), the Ingenieur Automatic is a safe choice for someone who wants a solid timepiece that is elegant and unassuming.
Alternatively, we have the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 15,000 Gauss (full hands on review soon!). Debuted in 2013, the striking timepiece set forth the standard of watchmaking with the new silicon hairspring – which is now a mainstay in most of the Co-Axial movements today. The Aqua Terra, notably, is bolder in design with its midnight blue dial and loud yellow accents (and the black-yellow striped seconds hand). The watch is priced at S$8,550.
You either love or hate the Milgauss – there are no two ways about it. This is perhaps one of the most unusual Rolexes in modern times, when it comes to design and aesthetics. It is bold, confident, and perhaps a little playful. But for those who comment about how boring Rolexes are, the Milgauss is certainly a breath of fresh air.
However, looking beyond the aesthetics, the Milgauss is still a true-blue Rolex timepiece. It is a well-built tool watch, and it is capable of performing whenever it is being called to task. In addition, it is sized rather nicely too, which makes it very comfortable on the wrist. This is a good option for someone who is looking for a reliable daily beater.