Earlier this year in March, we bid farewell to the Milgauss, Rolex’s anti-magnetic “scientist’s watch.” It was one of the most unusual-looking Rolex sport models of the modern period, and it was one of the longest-running contemporary references, dating back to 2007.
But now, a unique and rare stainless steel Rolex Migauss watch sold for $2.5 million by Phillips Auctioneers. It shattered the auction record for the most money paid for a watch designed for scientists by the Swiss company, making it one of the most expensive watches sold over a weekend of watch auctions in Geneva.
The Milgauss was designed to resist magnetic fields and was released in 1958. It has a black honeycomb dial, a rotating bezel, and a second’s hand fashioned like a lightning bolt. The Milgauss was created in collaboration with the world’s finest nuclear physicists at Switzerland’s Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, or CERN. Its mechanical movement is shielded by a unique cage within the watch case, which would normally be thrown off by the magnetic fields surrounding high-powered lab equipment.
“Exquisite and exceedingly rare, the current watch is not only undeniably a representative of one of the scarcest and finest Rolex models ever made, but it is also likely the best preserved and complete example of a reference 6541 to ever grace the auction market,” Phillips said in a statement.
The most interesting part is that the successful bidder was operating on behalf of Rolex. It’s fairly common for luxury watch brands to purchase their very own timepieces at auctions for archival collections or museums. The outcome demonstrates that watch aficionados are still prepared to pay record prices for rare, vintage Rolex clocks in excellent condition.
At an auction, vintage Milgausses have consistently fetched six figures: A comparable design from 1958 fetched $354,000 (317,000 francs) at Christie’s in 2013, while another fetched $335,000 (300,000 francs) at Phillips in 2022. The most recent sale, on the other hand, raises the bar significantly.