In the ever-evolving world of horology, where precision and innovation reign supreme, Rolex has consistently stood out as a pioneer in the art of watchmaking. Among its iconic line-up, the Rolex Milgauss holds a unique position, with such a specific purpose in mind it is quite different from any of the other sport watches from Rolex. Rolex does not create watches just for themselves, they look around the world and seek to make a watch designed for a specific purpose and the most famous ones are their watches related to diving, racing and exploring but the field of science was something Rolex realised no one had paid attention to. That was when the concept of the Milgauss was first born.

3 Milgauss

The first Milgauss

The Milgauss was first introduced in the 1950s, an era marked by scientific and technological advancements. In this context, the watch was designed to meet the needs of professionals working in environments with strong magnetic fields, such as scientists and engineers. The name "Milgauss" itself is a portmanteau of "mille" (French for a thousand) and "gauss" (a unit of magnetic induction), emphasising its resistance to magnetic fields up to 1,000 gausses. The reason its name is derived from a French word is because Rolex is made in Switzerland and French is one of the official languages of Switzerland. Hence the choice of language by Rolex for naming this model.

The inaugural Milgauss model, reference 6541, made its debut in 1956. Sporting a distinctive lightning bolt-shaped seconds hand, the watch was an instant standout and very different compared to anything Rolex had previously made. The aesthetics of the Milgauss were far from conventional, and its orange-coloured lightning bolt hand became an iconic feature that would later define the model. 

The initial Milgauss models were powered by the calibre 1080 movement, which featured a Faraday cage to protect the delicate internal components from magnetic interference. The Faraday cage, named after the renowned scientist Michael Faraday, is a shielding mechanism that redirects electromagnetic fields away from the movement.

Source : Amsterdam Vintage Watches

Source : Watch Vault

Back then the Milgauss still resembled the shape of a Datejust case-shape wise but with certain features and design from the early submariners. The Milgauss 6541 had a aluminium bezel with a red triangle to mark the twelve o’clock position and a screw down crown making it water resistant to 50 metres. The bracelet also looked quite submariner-esque with the classic three-link oyster bracelet but with an all-brushed finishing to it, very different to the polished centre link bracelet on the newer Milgauss models. 

But before the models we might recognise today, the Milgauss started off with a very tool-watch look to it. With its water resistant, brushed finished case it made for quite a sporty watch despite its intention to be used within the safety of a scientific lab. But if you were wearing this whisky adjusting any machinery, you would not need to worry about scratching your Milgauss as the brushed surfaces help reduce scratches but also any scratches build a wonderful character to the watch.

In 1965, Rolex introduced the reference 1019 Milgauss, which marked a departure from the bold design choices of its predecessor. The lightning bolt seconds hand was replaced with a more subdued straight seconds hand, and the overall aesthetic became more understated. The reference 1019 Milgauss remained in production until 1988, establishing itself as a symbol of durability and functionality in the scientific community. 

The Milgauss did struggle to gain popularity as it was such a unique look, you either loved it and wanted it on your wrist, or you would take a glance and never look at it again. Despite the differences in strong opinions the Milgauss, like all Rolexes, served a purpose and was addressed to that audience and it eventually caught on.

Source : Bob’s Watches

Source : Hodinkee

In its physical appearance, you could have easily mistaken it for an explorer or oyster perpetual. The Rolex Milgauss 1019 had lost the aluminium bezel and now had a polished steel bezel, like on a smooth bezel Datejust or Explorer. The straight seconds-hand gave the Milgauss the iconic ‘Rolex’ look, no fuss on the dial, excellent case with the three-link oyster bracelet still in an all-brushed finding. 

The only noticeable difference to the eye was the small red arrow at the end of the second hand, the red dial printing of the word ‘Milgauss’ and the unusual vertical brushed dial finishing in a cream colour. However, if you had the black dial variation of the Milgauss you could easily think it was a Datejust as the differences were less pronounced but the subtle detail on the dial and seconds hands was still there.

Another interesting detail featured on the 1019 Rolex Milgauss was the beginning of the double hour markers. Two thin hour markers next to each other with a rectangular block of lume between them giving the double hour markers their distinctive look. Besides looks it was also for functionality, because Rolex always has a crown at the twelve o’clock position there is not enough room to put a double hour marker at the top. So, the double hour markers are situated at the three, six and nine o’clock positions. This means even in the dark you can tell which way round the watch is, a useful feature for working in labs late at night!

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A new Milgauss was born

After a long and slow run with the Milgauss, Rolex knew they had to do something substantial with the line if there was any chance of them selling another Milgauss in a world of modern watches. Rolex revived the Milgauss in 2007 with the release of the reference 116400. This modern iteration retained the antimagnetic properties of its predecessors while incorporating contemporary design elements. 

The lightning bolt seconds hand made a triumphant return, this time in an orange hue reminiscent of the original model. The watch featured a 40mm stainless steel case, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and the calibre 3131 movement with improved resistance to magnetic fields. A dictionary definition of a night-and-day transformation, and in a world with millions of Datejusts on people's wrist, benign unique with a Milgauss grew massively. 

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Throughout its history, the Rolex Milgauss has maintained its reputation as a charming unique watch that you can’t help but smile when you see one and appreciate its quirky looks. Its ability to withstand magnetic forces of up to 1000 gauss sets it apart in the horological world, appealing to those who demand precision in challenging environments. Despite Rolex’s selling point for the Milgauss is its 1000 gauss resistance, all of Omega’ co-axial movements are resistant to 15,000 Gauss! The distinctive design elements, such as the lightning bolt seconds hand, pay homage to the Milgauss's rich heritage while adding a touch of flair to an otherwise functional timepiece.

Rubber strap ZEALANDE for Yatch Master

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In order to increase the number of options to four, Rolex released two more models of the new Milgauss in 2014 in addition to the two that were presented in 2007. The first two models, with the references 116400, came with an orange lightning bolt in either a black or white dial with orange hour dots surrounding the markers. It is difficult to confuse Milgauss with anything else because it is written in bold orange on the dial, which is a good thing. With the Milgauss originally looking very much like the Rolex submariner and then more like a Datejust, it’s nice to see some distinctive features. They still featured a screw down crown and were water resistant to 100m which realistically is more than most need. So wearing the Milgauss in the pool, hit or beach would be no issue in terms of any water leakages. With a power reserve of 48 hours it was more than sufficient to take your Milgauss off for a couple of days and then pick it up again, still ticking. Despite its unique design purpose, it was also designed to be able to be worn every day.

Many variation for the Rolex Milgauss


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It's more than likely that when people think of the Rolex Milgauss, they all see the Z-blue dial variant. This Milgauss variation is much easier to identify thanks to the distinctive green tint that encircles the sapphire crystal. This model is truly unique because of the beautiful sunburst blue and teal dial, a hue that Rolex has only ever produced for the Milgauss. The Milgauss features a 40mm case size, making it slightly more compact than the popular Datejust 41mm, but it still has a very comparable look overall. 

It truly has an attractive dress watch appearance. While the Datejust offers the most selection of colours for its dials, the Rolex Milgauss is the better alternative if you're searching for something uncommon to see on a wristwatch. With everyone wanting to stand out, the Milgauss is one of the best watches to accomplish that goal, but to take it one step further, ZEALANDE can make sure you get a truly unique timepiece.

The final model they produced was the model shown above. This model is very similar in crystal to Z-blue, with a black and greyish smoky dial and pale orange hour markers. This watch is a more refined version of Z-blue, but still being, just as unique and beautiful. This model is perfect if you are looking for a combination of bold colour and classic timeless style. 

With its roots in science, the Milgauss is definitely a very versatile watch to wear regardless whether you work in the world of science or not. Each variation of the Milgauss is so different from each other making the choice a bit easier for which one will best suit you, and in a world of vast amounts of choice, it’s nice to have a few models offered so different from each other.


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Despite the Rolex having successfully revived the Milgauss and made it a relatively desirable piece, it was finally discontinued back in mid 2023. Rolex never announces the exact reason for discontinuing their models but many speculate it has something to do with its purpose. Having a dive watch is useful as you can swim with it, having a chronograph is useful because you can time events but being resistant to magnetic fields is something unlikely to be really used. Whilst it is resistant to 1000 gauss, in the world of science it is not very much so you couldn’t really use it either. However, like any past Rolex model discontinued, there’s every chance the Milgauss will make a return, with much a much higher gauss resistance and maybe a whole new dial colour?!

Source : The Watch Muse

And there you have it, the background and history of one of Rolexes most unique watches, the Milgauss. With a very interesting purpose and abrupt discontinuation, it is definitely a model that is missed by many and who knows, maybe it will make a re-appearance within the Rolex catalogue again someday in the future. If a Rolex Datejust is tempting to you but you want that extra mile for distinct looks and colour combinations, then the Milgauss is the way to go. Even more than that, ZEALANDE can help you create a look very few individuals in the world will have. Putting a ZEALANDE rubber strap on your Milgauss will help put more focus on the case and beautiful dial itself whilst completing or contrasting any of the colours on your Milgauss. With the Milgauss featuring the dressy three-link oyster bracelet from Rolex with polished centre links, a ZEALANDE rubber strap will help preserve the shiny look of your bracelet whilst you still get to enjoy wearing your Milgauss.