The Rolex Milguass is the big brother of the Tru Beat however the Milgauss has a more illustrious history and in it’s original incarnation lasted a lot longer. It’s popularity with collectors led a revival in 2007.
In the early 50s Rolex were asked by CERN the nuclear research lab in Switzerland, now more famous as the location of the Large Hedron Collider, to create a watch that would not be affected by the magnetic fields that scientists were commonly dealing with.
To do this Rolex encased the movement in a faraday cage and were able to produce a watch capable of withstanding upto 1000 gauss. This gave the watch it’s name Milgauss. To fit the cage inside the case the Milgauss was slightly larger than most Rolex watches of the time at 38mm. It also had a more bulbous back, shared with the Tru Beat.
Initially the Milgauss came with what is known as a CERN dial. This had white arrows at 3 6 and 9 and gold dots at all other positions save 12 which was represented by the Rolex crown. These markers were screen applied and not luminous. The CERN dial also has the iconic lighting bolt second hand. Most examples also have a turn-o-graph bezel. Early examples were made with Silver Dials but most were Black.
By the late 50s the Milgauss gained baton markers and luminous dots in line with most other models. Although as with all Rolex models there were many options for the customer to order. The lightning bolt second hand vanished at this time and was replaced by a simple red arrow.
Rolex were at this time attempting to market the Milgauss to engineers and other people who worked around magnetic fields. It was however always a high end product and never really sold in large numbers. The Milgauss is over engineered because of the extreme environment of CERN, lower rated cheaper alternatives using simpler technology were more popular, including Rolex’s own Explorer.
The Milgauss was discontinued in 1981 slowly over time it gained a following. Collectors started to get interested and the watch started to rise in value.
In 2007 just before construction started on the Large Hedron Collider at CERN Rolex re introduced the Milgauss. This version comes with a 40mm case that is thicker and the dial patterned after a old style pressure gage. This version also features the lighting second hand and is available in standard Black or White along with other options.
Value wise the Milgauss is mixed CERN dial examples are extremely rare while pre 81 watches are considered very desirable however the modern Milgauss doesn’t hold it’s value. If considering a modern Milgauss a ‘unworn’ used one would save you around 30% on the list price.