Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: XI Geneva Sunday, June 28, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1968
    Reference No: 1019
    Movement No: M09949
    Case No: 1'918'348
    Model Name: Milgauss
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1580, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet stamped "282" and "7836" to the endlinks, max length 205mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp stamped "3 71"
    Dimensions: 37.5mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rolex has long been associated with “tool” wristwatches, which originally were designed with a functional purpose in mind. From their collaboration with Pan American Airways for the GMT-Master dual time zone wristwatch, to the Submariner watch for professional deep-sea divers, these timepieces have captured the imagination of collectors and are today highly sought after in the international market. 

    The Milgauss, reference 1019, is another example of a Rolex sports model that today enjoys considerable prestige beyond its original intent. Originally released in 1954, the Milgauss reference 6541 was designed to meet the needs of scientists and engineers working in a magnetic environment. Rolex worked in collaboration with the Conseil Européen de Recherche Nucléaire (CERN), to develop an inside Faraday Cage that would allow the watch to withstand up to 1000 Gauss of magnetism. Hence its name: “Mille Gauss” meaning a thousand Gauss in French. Along with its companion piece the reference 6543, the two remained in production until the beginning of the 1960s when Rolex released the reference 1019. 

    The new reference featured a fresh and modern update to its appearance such as a smooth bezel and a modified dial layout. It is known to have been made in two series. First series examples feature 1/5 of a second divisions around the dial and faceted hands. Second series specimens present half-second divisions and flat hands.

    While at first glance the present watch would appear to be a first series example, it presents a dial finish which elevates it to the ranks of the rarest Milgauss specimens. Normally, black 1019 dials feature a matte look. An extremely small number is known to have been made with gloss finish. The present example however eludes both categories: it dials present an intermediate finish which cannot be said to be either matte or gloss but rather semi-gloss. Possible explications for this unusual finish are either a mistake in the production process, or the creation of an experimental batch of such dials followed by the abandonment of the project. In any case, this incredible timepiece once more demonstrates how prolific of unusual variations the Crown brand was in vintage times, and classifies itself as one of the most collectible specimens of the reference.

  • Artist Biography


    Swiss • 1905

    Founded in 1905 England by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis as Wilsdorf & Davis, it soon became known as the Rolex Watch Company in 1915, moving its headquarters to Geneva in 1919. Like no other company, the success of the wristwatch can be attributed to many of Rolex's innovations that made them one of the most respected and well-known of all luxury brands. These innovations include their famous "Oyster" case — the world's first water resistant and dustproof watch case, invented in 1926 — and their "Perpetual" — the first reliable self-winding movement for wristwatches launched in 1933. They would form the foundation for Rolex's Datejust and Day-Date, respectively introduced in 1945 and 1956, but also importantly for their sports watches, such as the Explorer, Submariner and GMT-Master launched in the mid-1950s.

    One of its most famous models is the Cosmograph Daytona. Launched in 1963, these chronographs are without any doubt amongst the most iconic and coveted of all collectible wristwatches. Other key collectible models include their most complicated vintage watches, including references 8171 and 6062 with triple calendar and moon phase, "Jean Claude Killy" triple date chronograph models and the Submariner, including early "big-crown" models and military-issued variants.

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Ref. 1019
An extremely rare and intriguing stainless steel automatic antimagnetic wristwatch with semi-gloss black dial and bracelet

Circa 1968
37.5mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

CHF30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for CHF60,000

Contact Specialist

Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Watches, Continental Europe and the Middle East

41 79 637 1724

The Geneva Watch Auction: XI

Geneva Auction 27 - 28 June 2020