It shouldn’t come as a surprise when we tell you that Rolex watches undergo a scrutinous production process. The labour that goes into making each model is reflected in their price tag, along with the materials involved as well, of course. It’s a process that Rolex is all too happy to go through though, as the result is a collection of some of the most lusted-after timepieces on the planet.
But the majority of us will never see what actually happens behind Rolex’s closed doors in Switzerland. We just find the model we like, order it, wait for it and then wear it with pride on our wrist. But if you ever wanted to see what goes into making a Rolex, Instagram user Horologer is more than happy to oblige. He’s a WOSTEP (Watches of Switzerland Training & Education Program) watchmaker from Norway, who has a particular love for Rolex, and his account is essentially softcore pornography for any watch aficionado.
We’ve already shown you how a Rolex Daytona is put together, but this time around it’s the turn of the Milgauss to be put under the literal microscope.
The Rolex Milgauss was first introduced in 1956 and its name is derived from its anti-magnetic properties. At the time of launch, it was the first watch to be able to withstand magnetic fields up to 1,000 gauss (a unit of measurement of magnetic flux). ‘Gauss’ is combined with ‘Mille’ the French word for thousand.
The Milgauss was discontinued in 1988 and then reintroduced in 2007. Today, it’s just made with a 904L stainless steel – known for its rust-resistance and ability to hold polishes well – but it retains the ferromagnetic alloy shield to give it superior anti-magnetic properties. And thanks to Horologer, we can now see exactly what that shield looks like. The shield causes the Milgauss to be thicker than other Rolex models such as the Submariner, but it maintains the same width and weight of 157g.
Another feature that sets the Milgauss apart from the rest of Rolex’s lineup is its lightning-bolt shaped second hand, a feature that has been carried over to the modern-day version. The hands to any watch require a steady hand, but Horologer shows us just how intricate a process the Milgauss hand assembly is.
Each hand is applied individually and is pushed into place by a machine. Rolex uses humans in as many steps of the production process of its watches as possible. Even in cases where machines are employed – usually to sort and file various parts – they’re still human-operated. Otherwise they are all hand-assembled.
The current Milgauss features a green sapphire crystal which was first introduced on an anniversary model. It’s referred to as ‘Glace Verte’, French for ‘green glass’ (GV features in the reference number) and it’s manufactured in such a complex way that Rolex doesn’t even have a patent for it. It’s available exclusively on the Milgauss.
The dial also sports a few design tweaks compared to previous versions, chief among which are three orange baton markers at 3, 6 and 9 on the black dial variant. Previous (now discontinued) models used the same colour for all baton markers: white or orange, depending on the dial colour. It’s now only offered with a black or electric blue dial with all white baton markers.
It’s certainly a unique watch amongst Rolex’s lineup and has a more playful side compared to some of its other models. Like all Rolex watches, their availability can be somewhat limited, but if you can get your hands on one, you can expect to pay AU$11,700.