Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: XVII Geneva Saturday, May 13, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1958
    Reference No: 6541
    Movement No: N782694
    Case No: 412'399
    Model Name: Milgauss
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1066, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel "Big Logo" Rolex Oyster bracelet, end link stamped 65, max length 190mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp stamped 2.59
    Dimensions: 38mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Rolex Chronometer Certificate, Guarantee, Milgauss literature, additional chronometer certificate dated June 14, 1960, hang tag and presentation box.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Exquisite and exceedingly rare, the present watch is not only indisputably a representative of one of the scarcest and finest Rolex models made, it is also probably the best preserved and complete example of a reference 6541 to ever grace the auction market.

    Released in 1956, reference 6541 represents the very first iteration of the Milgauss. The model targeted at a very specific - albeit at the time novel and growing - market: scientists, engineers and technicians working with high magnetic fields in electro-industrial environments or scientific facilities; indeed its iconic “lightning” seconds hand is an obvious nod to electromagnetism.

    Most impressively, the Milgauss was guaranteed to resist magnetic fields up to 1,000 oersted. The name Milgauss is derived from the Latin word mille, which means 1,000, and gauss, the unit of a magnetic field. The Milgauss overcomes the effects of magnetic fields by using anti-magnetic alloys and an iron movement cover to create a Faraday cage. It might well be one of the scarcest Rolex models as the intended market was indeed extremely restricted.

    The present example, created in 1958, is offered in simply spectacular condition and is the best preserved example that Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo has had the pleasure of offering at auction. Most probably unpolished, it displays all original factory finishes and specifications, from the bevels on the side of the lugs, to the red-tipped bezel, and even the crisp milled edge on the case back. The razor-sharp edges, along with contrasting polished and brushed finishes are undoubtedly original.

    The most prominent feature of the watch is its unusual and awe-inspiring seconds hand in the shape of a lightning bolt. Giving the watch an unmistakable appearance, the present watch is fitted with a wondrously beautiful and exceedingly rare black “Honeycomb” dial, with circular hour markers and faceted triangular indexes at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. So well preserved is the dial that it doesn't show any visible signs of ageing, with crisp and eye-catching graphics throughout.

    To add to the impressive nature of the watch is the plentitude of accessories that accompany the timepiece. It is presented with its Rolex Chronometer Certificate, Guarantee, Milgauss literature, additional chronometer certificate dated June 14, 1960, hang tag and presentation box. To the best of our knowledge, no other reference 6541 as complete as the present example has ever graced the auction market.

    To acquire a reference 6541 is a dream for many collectors today. Yet, to discover one preserved in unpolished condition with an immaculate dial, along with a treasure trove of accessories is positively unheard of. It is unimaginable when a white whale of watch collecting comes to the market, and it is with great certainty that another will not appear soon.

  • 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. 6541
The probably best preserved and to our knowledge complete amagnetic stainless steel wristwatch with honeycomb dial, "lightning" hand, bracelet, chronometer certificate, guarantee, hang tag and presentation box

Circa 1958
38mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

CHF500,000 - 1,000,000 

Sold for CHF2,238,000

Contact Specialist

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

+41 79 637 17 24

Tiffany To
Head of Sale, Geneva

+41 79 460 55 88

The Geneva Watch Auction: XVII

Geneva Auction 13 - 14 May 2023