As a research scientist with a passion for fine timepieces, I have always been on the lookout for the watch that would best match my work and life passions. If you also fit that category, then look no further than the Rolex Milgauss, and especially the unique anniversary edition reference 116400GV (“glass verte”) with the green sapphire glass. It is a watch with a unique history that stands out from an all too common Rolex lineup and that was designed for scientists… Let’s explore why that is.
While I will not give you a full history of the Rolex Milgauss, I want to brush on the important highlights. The Rolex web site and various blog posts do a thorough job of documenting the history, in particular this post is one of the better ones I have found on its history.
You also don’t need to know much about the inner workings of a mechanical watch to realize that a magnetic field is one of its sworn enemies. Briefly, mechanical watches (even the best ones) use a balance wheel containing a hairspring that is used to regulate the movement, it’s the watch’s heartbeat, if you may. Mess with the hairspring or balance wheel and you will end up with a watch that runs too fast or too slow… Therefore, in situations where the watch is exposed to a magnetic field, components of the watch can be magnetized and thus be disrupted.
The reliability and precision of an ordinary mechanical watch can be affected by a magnetic field of 50 to 100 gauss. But many scientists are exposed to much higher magnetic fields during the course of their work. Rolex’s solution was the Milgauss, created in 1956, the first watch of its kind. Hence the name of the watch, mille being French for thousand.