I have owned my Milgauss GV since the 22nd. of October and have enough impressions of the watch to feel it's time to make a review of it..
Like in my other reviews, I will give the watch scores for its various parts, specs and performance:
= Very Good
The review will be divided into the following chapters:
- History Of The Milgauss
- Dial And Legibility
1. HISTORY OF THE MILGAUSS
The first Milgauss watch (ref. 6541) was launched in 1954 as a watch that could cope with the strong magnetic fields that scientists that work in power plants and research labs are subjected to.
One of these research labs, namely the European Organization for Nuclear Research "CERN" (Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire), is said to have asked Rolex to make to make the Milgauss.
This seems plausible since at least in the Milgauss booklet for the later ref. 1019 you see a picture of a CERN employee at work and CERN being mentioned in the text on the picture:
(Picture from the wwforum).
Originally, there were two versions of the Milgauss... the ref. 6541 and the ultra-rare ref. 6543 of which only 88 examples have been manufactured (source). The ref. 6543 was supposedly completely anti-magnetic since the whole escapement was made of an anti-magnetic alloy, making the Faraday case redundant.
The 6541 had its movement encased in a socalled "Faraday" cage made of soft iron that would re-direct any magnetic influence and keep it from harming the movement.
Both models had the Cal. 1080 beating inside and sported a rotatable bezel like the Submariner and a non-coloured steel "Lightning Bolt" seconds hand that we also see on the current Milgauss watches; albeit in an orange painted version made of white gold.
(Picture from the horomundi forum).
(Picture from the watchuseek forum).
The name "Milgauss" is derived from the French "mille" - which means 1,000 -and "Gauss", referring to the German mathematician and physicist Carl Friedrich Gauss who did research into magnetic fields. Another measure for the influence of magnetism is ampere per meter (A/m). According to the DIN norm 8309, a watch is considered anti-magnetic if it can work normally in a magnetic field of 4,800 A/m. Now, 4,800 A/m equals ca. 60 gauss. So a "normal" anti-magnetic watch can only cope with 6% of the magnetic field that the Milgauss can handle. Yet another measure is Tesla (T). 1,000 Gauss equals 0.1 Tesla.
One should note that Rolex was not the only company that introduced anti-magnetic watches back then. Other brands like IWC (the "Ingenieur") or Omega (the "Rail Master") had their own versions, both of which still exist, although of the two brands today only the Ingenieur is highly anti-magnetic whereas the current Rail Master is only standard anti-magnetic.
From start on, the Milgauss was addressed to a niche market, the mentioned scientists working in areas emitting strong magnetic fields. The Milgauss never really popular among the general public while it was still made. Finally, the ref. 6541 was discontinued.
Despite of that, in the early 1960ies, the ref. 1019 was introduced as the third version Milgauss. It had a new movement (Cal. 1580), did not sport the "Lightning Bolt" hand and came with different dials (black or silver) and also a rarer dial version, the socalled "CERN" dial. The "CERN" dial was special in as much as it had Tritium neither on the hands nor at the end of the indices since any surplus radio-active emission from the dial would interfere with the accuracy of tests that scientists working with radio-active material were carrying out.
Ref. 1019, "CERN" dial:
(Picture from bonhams.com).
The Milgauss still turned out to be one of the least sold watches in the range and was finally discontinued in 1988. However, before the discontinuation of the Milgauss, the Oysterquartz was introduced in 1977. This watch was also anti-magnetic to 1,000 Oersted (yet another term for magnetic influence).
The Milgauss has a 40 mm. case with polished lugs and a prominent, polished bezel. I call the bezel "prominent" since it is quite wide and can be compared to the polished bezel style of the new Day-Date II. The bezel - like on the Day-Date II, also sports a "sharp" look and not the more rounded, "domed" look of the smooth bezels of DJ's (post 2004) and traditional (post year 2000)Day-Dates.
The case is quite thick and has pronouncedly downward sloaping lugs which make the watch sit very comfortably on the wrist. A very elegant case style in my opinion:
Like the ref. 6541, the current Milgauss sports a "Faraday" cage. There is an outer and a second, inner, caseback. The outer caseback is engraved "Milgauss" (x 2) and also sports two Rolex coronets. Interestingly, the Milgauss was the first men's watch after the Sea-Dweller to sport a factory caseback engraving. The inner caseback is laser etched with a "B" which is the symbol for magnetic flux density.
Here are a couple of pictures of the Milgauss case opened, showing the inner caseback:
However, before you rush out and wear the Milgauss in highly magnetic environments it is worth noting that 1,000 Gauss = 0,1 Tesla (T). Current MRI systems start at 0.3T and go up to 5T. Even the smallest of those is 3 times the rating of the Milgauss. So you might want to take off your watch. Still, the Milgauss is the perfect watch for every use since it would not be magnetised in most situations.
Due to the Faraday cage and double casebacks, the Milgauss is quite a heavy watch. With all links of the bracelet installed, the watch weighs in at 157 grams:
So it is 10 grams heavier than the Sea-Dweller 16600 but still feels comfortable on the wrist! The size (40 mm.) fits me perfectly, as well. Not too big nor to too small for my 7½ " wrist.
The TwinLock crown is actually a little larger than the standard TwinLock which makes it easier to handle. It winds smoothly in the winding position, as well.
The letters "GV" in the model reference "116400GV" stand for "glace verte" which refers to the green edge of the crystal. Depending on angle and light conditions, the green edged glass varies from being hardly noticeable to glowing up in a vivid green. Here it's caught in the sun:
And here in the shade:
Rolex has been rumoured to have had problems with the production of the green crystal. It has been reported to become too fragile after having been treated in ovens to make the desired green edge. This resulted in the manufacture of Milgauss GV watches halting or being slowed considerably down which again resulted in long waited lists at the authorized dealers and following sky-high prices on the "grey market". Lately, it seems that more Milgauss GV watches are hitting the market, though, and prices on the grey market have dropped as a result of this.
It is worth noting that the Milgauss GV does NOT sport the laser etched coronet at 6 in the crystal... It has been said that the laser etched coronet would be too obvious due to the green edged crystal. Other reports state that the laser etched coronet would simply be distorted due to the green crystal. The other two Milgauss models (both named "116400", too, but without the GV nomenclature) both sport the laser etched coronet:
(pic by Jocke).
I must admit that I did not like the Milgauss GV when I saw the first pictures of it after the Basel Fair 2007. After having seen and tried it on in person a couple of times, the watch grew on me, though. In my opinion, the green edged crystal renders a unique and "fresh" but also very elegant look to the Milgauss, and the green goes well with the orange - I'd like to say terra cotta - colours on the dial.
Apart from the green edged crystal, what identifies the Milgauss GV is the special dial.. The indices at 3, 6 and 9 are orange coloured and ever so slightly broader than the other (white) markers. Finally, only the Milgauss GV sports orange numbers at the end of every markers (on the "ordinary", black faced Milgauss, there are orange squares at the end of the markers). The third version has all-orange markers and - like the GV - orange numbers at the end of the indices.
The dial is matte grey which tends to have a brown undertone and certainly enhances the orange colours on the 3, 6, 9 indices, numbers and the seconds hand.
Obviously, the Milgauss has no date feature, but I don't miss it on this specific watch. In my opion, a date aparture would ruin the design of this unique watch.
Harking back to the original Milgauss ref. 6541, the current Milgauss watches have a "Lightning Bolt" seconds hand, but an orange one. Like the green crystal, initially I did not care for the design of the seconds hand, at all. However, now having the watch on my wrist, I find the different shape of the seconds hand and its orange colour very helpful to make me - at a glance - find where the seconds hand is on its way around the dial.
The hour and minute hands are standard "Datejust" style, but fit the overall design of the watch well, in my opinion.
The lume of the Milgauss GV is quite special, as well. The orange markers actually emit BLUE light in the dark:
On a good charge, the lume lasts about 6 hours, but the blue lume fades into a more green one after very short time ( ~ 15 minutes, depending on the "charge" of light). A bit disappointing.
The Milgauss has its own unique movement, the Cal. 3131. It can be seen as an upgrade to the Cal. 3130, now sporting the in-house developed amagnetic Parachrom Blue hairspring plus (so the Milgauss brochure states) an espapement which is made of an anti-magnetic alloy (like the Milgauss 6543).
To show how not anti-magnetic, but amagnetic the Parachrom Bleu hairspring is, watch this video:
One could say that the Faraday case seems redundant due to the Parachrom Bleu hairspring and special escapement, but in my opinion it is just another example of Rolex over-engineering.
Even though it's hidden behind two casebacks, you won't be disappointed if you should ever get a glimpse of the movement. It is absolutely beautiful:
(Pic by Hannes; oysterworld.de).
Initially, my Milgauss lost 2 seconds a day, but luckily consistantly so that I knew it was just a matter of having it regulated. So I had it regulated, and now - after 12 days - it has gained 5 seconds... that's roughly .4 seconds/day -- consistantly, I'd like to add.
The Milgauss watches come with the Oyster bracelet ref. 72400. The clasp sports a hidden "Easy Link" which comes in handy on those warm days where your wrist tends to swell. The bracelet has solid and polished centre links which match the overall style of the watch very well.
The closing mechanism is different from the one seen on for instance the GMT II ceramic.. Whereas the GMT II ceramic has a spring loaded tip on the clasp, the ref. 72400 has a freely sprung tip with a "lever" action to open the clasp. The tip is fixed with two spring bars; one in the tip itself and one in the main clasp:
Here you can just see the "lever" in action, putting force on the buckle:
Unfortunately, the lever scrapes against the buckle everytime you open the clasp, leaving scratches behind:
Another issue with the clasp (I guess all of them are like that) is the fact that the tip of the clasp swings freely since it's not spring loaded. The laws of gravity alone make it flip either up or down:
Even when closed, the tip is able to pivot slightly, resulting in it making a noice everytime you turn your wrist (again caused by the law of gravity).
Resuming, the various parts of the watch got the following scores:
- [History Of The Milgauss]
- Case > 5
- Crystal > 5
- Dial And Legibility > 4
- Movement > 6
- Accuracy > 6
- Bracelet > 3
Average score is ~ 4.8 out of 6 (can't split the dice, but there you are!).
Overall, I am very satisfied with my Milgauss GV. It has quite a unique look to it which sets it off well from my two current other Rolex watches - the Sea-Dweller 16600 and Daytona 116520. It is a versatile watch that you can both dress "down" or "up". As a friend of mine told me first time he saw my Milgauss GV:
"It is a VERY elegant watch! Probably the nicest you've had so far. Somehow it looks both modern and old-fashioned at the same time. I really like it!"