The Rolex Milgauss 116400GV watch hands-on
If discussing the brand at hand looks too generic, talking about the Rolex Milgauss (or, according to its full name, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Milgauss) is a chance to introduce one of the most underrated Rolex Oyster currently on sale. Also, we're adding the first-ever anti-magnetic watch to our magazine, where we have covered almost every recent Rolex sports watch released.
While reviewing state-of-the-art Oysters like a GMT Master 2 126710 BLNR Batman or Submariner 126619LB White Gold Blue Bezel, to cite a few, is mainstream, a closer look at a Milgauss is a means to scrutinize a forgotten fruit we expect Rolex is going to update in a year or so, according to rumors. Nonetheless, even more so after this hands-on, I'll place a Milgauss among my three top picks, and I believe its history is as attractive as it is the product itself.
Let's start by taking a closer look at the dial; the Rolex Milgauss dial is offered in two alternatives: a dark black and a Z blue. With the crowned logo standing out at twelve, the dial is as uncluttered as it gets, adopting a minimalistic design featuring applied baton indexes filled with glowing substance.
Those orange-colored ones, placed at 3, 6, and 9, glow blue in the dark, whereas green Chromalight is glowing anywhere else instead. The dial is super-legible and comes with a lightning bolt-shaped central sweeping seconds hand, a Milgauss' hallmark since day one.
The unmistakable green sapphire crystal
Conceived initially to equip the Milgauss, it is a Rolex exclusive and is a component whose production process is covered by a patent and has been mastered inside the brand's manufacture. We have no clue about how Rolex has designed and manufactured such a piece.
The only piece of news we're familiar with is that it takes no less than two weeks to make one. The green sapphire crystal adds lure and functionality in one go:
Design: its green tone makes any Rolex Milgauss unique in its class of products.
Readability: sapphire green helps the wearer read the time at a glance
The 40 mm Milgauss adopts 904L steel for the case and bracelet. Rolex designs and manufactures each part at the brand's materials department. Marketed as Oystersteel, 904L is widely adopted in the chemical and aerospace industries, given its enhanced resistance to corrosion and "pitting" phenomena over a very long period. Also, Oystersteel is outrageously shiny when polished, adding to the distinctive Rolex touch and feel.
The Rolex Milgauss runs on caliber 3131, entirely designed, assembled, and tested by Rolex. Offering a close to two-day power reserve, the 3131 far exceeds the COSC standard to add to the Superlative Chronometer once housed into a Milgauss case. It belongs to the old product family; we believe it'll soon be replaced by the newest generation of mechanical movements capable of guaranteeing at least seventy hours of power reserve when fully wound.
"Nomen omen," we'd say. An above-the-average resistance to magnetic fields is any Milgauss' mission statement, although being resistant to just 1000 Gauss looks far outdated in the benchmark.
The first Rolex Milgauss hit the spot in 1956 and introduced a new class of products back then. As the name suggests, each Milgauss is capable of withstanding magnetic fields up to 1000 Gauss, and to achieve such performance, Rolex's engineers equipped the Milgauss with an inner soft-iron milled housing between movement and case.
Furthermore, as with each Rolex caliber, the caliber 3131 comes standard with a blue Parachrom hairspring, which also ensures superior resistance to temperature changes or unwanted shocks, on top of being magnetic-resistant.
Let me outline that Rolex was the first brand to market a magnetic-resistant wristwatch in the 1950s to meet the scientific community's needs in search of a timepiece capable of withstanding and minimizing a magnetic field effect on timing accuracy.
Rolex provided scientists with a classic-looking "tool watch" adaptable to various scenarios and working conditions inside their laboratories and out with the Rolex Milgauss launch. Since its debut, Rolex has unstoppably worked alongside CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) to support technological innovations and scientific research.
In this section, I'd like to discuss an on-going trend regarding Rolex watches and, as such, the Rolex Milgauss too, i.e., the Rolex Milgauss Black Venom, which is a blackened out take on a standard Rolex Milgauss: In addition to blackening case and bracelet out, Black Venom offers several dial colors, thus extending a customer's choice. Black Venom is renowned for restyling and upgrading luxury watches, and the customized Rolex Milgauss is no different and indeed much coveted.
The portfolio includes plenty of options drawing inspiration from Pop culture characters like Star Wars and Batman, or Matrix. Also, Black Venom reinvents the Milgauss with colorful designs and combos too, making their Milgauss all but understated; take a sneak peek at the Rainbow or the Manolito.
The Rolex Milgauss by Black Venom counts lovers and haters, dividing those looking for the quintessential Rolex steel Milgauss from collectors searching for the ultimate, and hopefully unique, custom-designed Milgauss. If you opt for a Black Venom Rolex, get ready to pay a consistent premium price.
The Rolex catalog includes two options, listed atop this article, and whose retail price looks like a bargain given the current Rolex offering and availability. A new Rolex Milgauss is priced at € 7,950. The good news is that, unlike other Oysters, a mint pre-owned Rolex Milgauss won't break your bank.
I am referring to the reference 116400GV here-in listed, showcasing the signature green sapphire glass. Instead, if you're eager to save more, take a look at the discontinued reference 116400 with a black dial and standard sapphire crystal. If you're aiming at making a vintage Rolex Milgauss yours, get ready to enter the top collectors' fight to get one and be prepared to pay no less than 150,000 euros according to the latest auctions' results.
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori for Horbiter®)
Tommaso Sabia @Horbiter®