Rolex Milgauss

The Beginnings of the Milgauss

The Milgauss is a wristwatch released by Rolex in 1956 under the reference number 6541.
The Milgauss is an antimagnetic watch designed specifically for people who work in places where electromagnetic fields can cause clocks to lose time, such as power plants, medical facilities, or the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, Switzerland.

The name Milgauss comes from the French word "mille" (meaning 1000) and the unit of electromagnetic field, gauss (named after Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss, a German mathematician, astronomer, and physicist who studied electromagnetic fields), and comes from the fact that it can withstand a magnetic flux density of 1000 gauss.

The original Milgauss looked very similar to the Rolex Submariner, with a larger case and bezel, Twinlock crown, and a riveted bracelet. There were only two versions of the Milgauss, the 6541 and the extremely rare 6543 (only 88 were made).

Reference 6543
Reference 6543

The movement of the Reference 6541 is enclosed in a soft iron anti-magnetic cage called a Faraday cage, which prevents magnetic fields from reaching the movement and therefore prevents it from being affected by magnetic fields.
Both models were equipped with the Cal. 1080, had rotating bezels, and the lightning hands seen on the current Milgauss (orange-painted versions made of white gold) were plain steel at the time.

Because this watch was made for people working in environments with a lot of magnetic fields, its unique design and color made it completely unpopular with the general public, and production of the Ref. 6541 was discontinued in 1988.
Nevertheless, a third version of the Milgauss was introduced in the early 1960s, the reference 1019.
It was fitted with a new caliber (Cal. 1580), had no lightning bolt hands, came with a different dial (black or silver), and also came with an even rarer version of the dial called the "CERN" dial.

Reference 1019

Milgauss watches are highly coveted among Rolex collectors due to their unpopularity and low production numbers in the 1960s and 1970s, making them one of the rarest vintage watches today, with vintage Tiffany & Co. stamped Milgauss watches having sold for over $32,000 (based on exchange rates as of November 6, 2017).


After nearly 20 years since the last 116400, Rolex began producing the Milgauss again in 2007. It is now available in four different versions: the model 116400 with a white or black dial and colorless sapphire crystal, and the model 116400GV with a black or blue dial.

Milgauss 116400 Black Dial
Milgauss 116400 Black Dial

Milgauss 116400GV Black Dial
Milgauss 116400GV Black Dial

A new version introduced by Rolex in 2014 features an electric blue dial and green sapphire crystal. The 116400GV is said to be the only Rolex watch with colored crystal. Rumor has it that this was a limited edition, but while the 116400 was discontinued in 2015, the 116400GV is still in production about three years later.

It's thicker than the Submariner because it has an internal magnetic shield, but its width and weight of 157 grams are the same as the Submariner.
The Milgauss is made exclusively from ultra-premium 904L stainless steel, which is scratch-resistant and corrosion-resistant.

Milgauss structure

Aside from its anti-magnetic nature, the Milgauss' most unusual feature is its orange lightning bolt seconds hand, which first appeared in the Rolex lineup on the Milgauss 6541 model.
In 2008, the suggested retail price was $6,200, and most were sold at or below that price. The 116400GV had a suggested retail price of $6,575, and in most cases sold for more than that price.


The Milgauss has a 40mm case with mirror-finished lugs and bezel, a thick case, and when viewed from the side, the lugs are slightly curved, which makes it feel very comfortable on the wrist.
The outer case of the Milgauss is engraved with "Milgauss" and the Rolex crown logo, making it a special model. The inner case has the letter "B", which stands for magnetic flux density, laser engraved on it.

Milgauss case back engraved

Milgauss inner case with letter B engraved

Green sapphire glass

The model commonly referred to as "GV" is the 116400GV, where GV stands for Glace Verte (Emerald).
Depending on the angle and lighting, the color of the green sapphire glass may be hard to see or may appear a distinct green.


Rolex was rumored to have had difficulty producing green sapphire crystal, which was said to become very fragile during the manufacturing process.
As a result, production of the Milgauss GV was slow to pick up, which resulted in official dealers being overwhelmed with customers waiting for the goods, and they were being traded at extremely high prices on the grey market.
However, the price will later drop even on the grey market for the following reasons:
The Milgauss GV model does not have a crown fretwork at the 6 o'clock position. Some say that adding a crown fretwork would make it stand out more due to the colored crystal, while others say it would be technically difficult. Both other Milgauss models have a fretwork crown.


Besides the green sapphire glass, the Milgauss also features a distinctive dial, with orange indices at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock that are slightly wider than the other indices.
Only the GV model of the Milgauss has orange numbers engraved next to every index. (Non-GV, black dial Milgauss has orange squares engraved next to every white index.)
As you can see, the Milgauss does not have a date function. However, with this distinctive design, the Milgauss may not need a date function.
Also, adding a date function would mean opening the movement, which would mean losing the magnetic resistance that is one of the Milgauss's defining features.


The Milgauss is equipped with a special movement, Cal. 3131.
It is an upgraded version of Cal.3130, and the anchor and escape wheel, which are susceptible to magnetic forces, are made of a paramagnetic nickel-phosphorus alloy. The balance spring is a blue parachrom balance spring, which is resistant to magnetic fields and shocks.

Movement 1

Movement 2