It was 1953, the year in which the world of watchmaking was about to enter a new dimension, wristwatches began their journey that will lead them to have the aesthetic characteristics that we still appreciate today of sports models, and it is due to Rolex. the beginning of this transformation that starts from the watches that until that period "inhabited" the wrists or pockets of those who carried out unusual activities, in contact with dangerous materials, flying over the oceans or inside caves ..Rolex focuses on professional watches designed to assist man in some of his activities and professions that took place in difficult and dangerous environments, eradicates from the wristwatch not only its forms, until then almost always classic and elegant, but together a robust and sporty appearance endows its models with functions and capabilities that no one had ever been able to imagine.
This is the case of the legendary MILGAUSS, preleased in 1954, it was designed for those who worked in environments with strong magnetic fields, such as research laboratories or at power plants, exposure that would have caused the clock to malfunction, delaying or even accelerating it.
The name of the clock derives from the union of the two French words “Mille” and “Gauss”, the latter of which is the unit of measurement of magnetic induction. The Milgauss is in fact able to withstand a magnetic exposure of the order of a thousand Gauss. A very high value if you consider that a common watch is subject to inaccuracies when solicited by only 50 Gauss, while at 100 it stops working.
But how was the MILGAUSS born? It is said that at the time scientists from CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, contacted Rolex directly requesting a watch they could wear safely while trying to unravel the secrets of the universe inside the famous high-powered particle accelerator. energy site in Geneva.
There is no certain proof of this but this story is not so far from that of the Pan-Am (and it is also said Alitalia) which required the Maison a watch with the possibility of marking two time zones at the same time. (GMT-Master, read our article related to this topic)
The solution that Rolex gave birth to in 1954, the same one adopted today by many sports watch brands, was achieved through two different technical measures: theadoption for the movement of a component non-magnetic for the parts of the same more subject to this problem (balance wheel, spiral, anchor….); the use of a second internal caseback in soft iron.
The prototype, identified as Ref. 6543, was tested by CERN which found it to be antimagnetic up to 1.000 gauss, which definitively gave the name Milgauss to this watch. In reality, the technicians pushed the accelerator exposing it up to 5.000 gauss but the movement of the watch did not lose a second.
The 6543, produced for almost two years in only 150 units, was replaced starting in 1956 with the ref. 6541 (strangely with a lower reference number) with the appearance of the lightning bolt hand. The unusual shaped appearance is one of the most recognizable and desirable features of the original Anti-magnetic Rolex, and was highly appreciated by the scientific community for which the watch was intended (and this is what a large group of enthusiasts enjoy today, especially even with the latest model).
At the beginning of 1960 the second and last reference arrives, namely the 1019, available with silver or black dial and produced until the end of the 80s. The differences with its predecessor are remarkable, starting from the movement up to the aesthetics. Substantial in this case the changes. The rotating bezel disappears, supplanted by a simpler truncated cone stoned. And then the dial takes on a more rigorous and modern graphics, presenting large skeletonized baton hands, and very simple applied indexes.
The model with a silver dial was also perfect for CERN users. Unlike the black one, it had neither indexes nor luminous hands. Since the dangerous radio was used at the time, the emanations of this luminescent substance were incompatible with use in a scientific laboratory. It is therefore quite natural that these Milgauss no-lumens are also highly sought after today.
In 1988, after realizing that, at a time when professional watches were practically never worn outside the contexts for which they were designed, demand for the Milgauss had practically dropped to zero, Rolex took it out of production.
Surprisingly, the MILGAUSS reappears at Baselworld 2007. The new model features an Oyster case now measuring 40mm and is forged from the usual 904L steel - the surgical alloy of steel that is difficult to machine but results in luster, strength, and corrosion resistance from primacy, and the lightning bolt hand becomes indistinguishable orange!
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