6541 Rolex Milgauss
Rolex’s storied professional line conjures images of Pan-Am, Comex, Hillary, spelunking, the Daytona 500, and, if you like 5s on your dial, the British RAF (Air-King). Yet there is one professional’s Rolex which often receives little or no mention. Many Rolexes today a marketed under the heading ‘rare’. The 6541 Milgauss, an antimagnetic scientist’s chronometer, was so unwanted in its time that production lasted only two years. Frequent readers will know where this is heading; today, the 6541 is one of the most desirable, valuable, scarce, and alternative steel sports references to wear a coronet.
Rarity itself breeds desirability but that’s not what’s going on here. The Milgauss is so much more interesting than that. Technically, the first Milgauss was the ref 6543, a vanishingly rare reference, but the pair are nearly identical, only changing out a thunderbolt seconds hand in this second run and minor case tweaks. Both used an iron Faraday cage and unique alloys to resist magnetism. Famously developed to withstand 1000 Gauss, the 6541 was marketed by, with, and through Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaireor (CERN). Pre-eminent particle physics researchers, the lab verified Rolex’s 1000 Gauss claim to success in independent testing. I imagine that was child’s play for that lot.
Moreover, its dial displays the coveted honeycomb texture only seen on a few Rolex models of this era, a nearly-woven effect so slight one must study closely to observe, made from two layers of aluminum. And while the 6543 used five minute increment hashes only in its bezel, the 6541 sported either fully demarcated increments or this sterile steel. Now, if you already knew everything I just stated, allow me to give go deeper on two fronts.
First, Richard Petty of Nascar fame purchased a 6541 brand new in 1958. That story makes no sense at all but is, I promise, true. Rolex certainly didn’t intend for that Milgauss to wind up on wrist of Nascar’s most successful driver, but I’m glad it did. Second, this example sports a non-luminous dial, often referred to as a CERN dial as some have speculated that technicians of CERN placed an order with Rolex sans-radium to avoid interfering with equipment. Concrete evidence there is yet to be delivered. In any case, it is perhaps the greatest Rolex no one really talks about.
This example is solid. First, it’s a full set. Everything, even receipt from original purchase which was on a 1962 Army base. The case is refinished but damn perfectly. Just should be noted. The dial is impeccable, non luminous with no damage. There’s a small bit of degradation on the 11 lume plot but nothing at all noteworthy. It comes from a well-regarded California retailer.
Find this 6541 Milgauss here from Oliver & Clarke for 265000 USD.