Rolex Milgauss discontinued
Sabine Meding, last updated on 03/28/2024

It was discussed for a long time, but in the first quarter of 2023, the time had finally come: Rolex put an end to the Milgauss. While the Swiss watch giant used Watches & Wonders as an opportunity to draw attention to eagerly awaited new products, the Milgauss disappeared from the Rolex website. A good reason to take a look back and shed light on the past of the special watch for scientists and engineers. At the same time, we would like to show what options are available to all those who would like to purchase a Milgauss model despite the discontinuation of production.

History of the Rolex Milgauss: A look back

With the Milgauss from Rolex, the name says it all: the watch can easily withstand magnetic influences of up to 1,000 gauss without being damaged. This is something that not every mechanical watch can claim. Not today and certainly not in the 1950s, when the special Rolex models were developed and published for the first time.

History and development of the Rolex Milgauss

At the time the watch was created, it was foreseeable that electromagnetic influences would play an increasingly important role as technology progressed. As conventional mechanical watches often stopped working at 50 Gauss, there was a need for a watch that was more resistant to electromagnetic waves: the idea of the Milgauss was born. The first prototype of the robust watch was presented as early as 1954, but the official release of the "magnetic field-resistant" Rolex watches did not follow until 1956.

The first Milgauss watch to be presented to the public bore the Ref. 6541 and already relied on ferromagnetic alloys, which were part of the models until the end. These materials form a kind of protective shield around the movement and ensure that it remains unaffected by magnetic fields. According to the manufacturer, the first references were used by scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva.

Significance of the Rolex Milgauss within the Rolex collection

Rolex gives sailors the Yacht-Master, pilots enjoy the Air-King, racing drivers have their Cosmograph Daytona "John Mayer" or "Paul Newman" and the brand meets the needs of divers with various models from Submariner to Deep Sea. It is therefore not too far-fetched to also offer special watches for scientists and engineers. This is precisely the place occupied by the Milgauss, which appealed not only to people who actually came into contact with strong magnetic fields, but also to watch enthusiasts and collectors with a penchant for the unusual. Nevertheless, even when the models first went on sale, general interest was limited and this hardly changed until the end. The Milgauss had and still has its fans, but was always overshadowed by more famous Rolex models, such as the Day-Date, the Explorer or the Datejust.

Reasons for the discontinuation: an analysis

After the Rolex Milgauss had to take a break between 1988 and 2007, the current cessation of production is certainly not one of the biggest surprises in the watch industry in 2023. In 1988, the brand justified the discontinuation of Milgauss watches with comparatively weak sales figures. But is this still the reason why Rolex is discontinuing the model today? Quite possibly. After all, there are now strong competitors that far outperform the Rolex Milgauss in terms of its former unique selling point - resistance to magnetic fields - and are cheaper in price. Just think of the anti-magnetic Omega Aqua Terra, which can withstand up to 15,000 gauss.

Some watch fans may also have found the rather massive-looking model, which is over 13 mm high, simply too bulky, and the Milgauss-typical orange-colored flash hand is certainly not to everyone's taste. The discontinuation of production could therefore have had something to do with the performance of the watches on the market - but we cannot know for sure.

Alternatives and heirlooms: The search for the Rolex Milgauss

For some collectors, the disappearance of the Milgauss has awakened the desire to own exactly this or a similar watch. As it is no longer possible to purchase them from the manufacturer, the only option is to look for alternatives or buy them on the gray market.

Presentation of alternatives for watch lovers

The most obvious alternative to the Rolex is the aforementioned Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra, whose prices start at just under €6,000, depending on the reference. The Geophysic 1958 from Jaeger-LeCoultre is considerably more expensive, but also anti-magnetic and, above all, incredibly chic. Unfortunately, due to its strictly limited edition, it does not exactly boast ideal availability. Another option is the Panerai Luminor Submersible Amagnetic made of titanium, which is protected against electromagnetic waves by a soft iron cage and is available with a muted green dial, for example.

Market for used Milgauss models

A conceivable step for anyone who owns an original Milgauss and does not want to switch to an alternative is to look for a reasonably affordable model on the secondary market. As we have seen countless times with other models, the discontinuation of production has also boosted demand for the Milgauss.

What does a Rolex Milgauss cost on the gray market?

As a result, the prices you pay today for one of the discontinued watches are in some cases significantly higher than they were a year ago. Of course, the costs vary according to the reference and also depend on the condition of the watches from the Swiss manufactory. The Milgauss Ref. 116400GV-0001 with a black dial, for example, is available from around €13,000.


Originally developed for scientists and engineers, the Rolex Milgauss was always a very special model that had its fans, but could not compete with Rolex icons such as the Day-Date, the Cosmograph Daytona or the Datejust. Nevertheless, the discontinuation of production was probably a disappointment for many collectors. The good news is that if you take some time to search and are open to different references, you have the chance to get hold of a well-preserved Milgauss on the secondary market.

About the author
Sabine Meding

The broad topic of horology has always interested me, especially how multifaceted and varied the world of watches is. I love writing about the different brands and models and can no longer imagine life without watches. What I like best are models that display both the day of the week and the date. If the dial is also made of mother-of-pearl, the watch is perfect for me.