Rolex - The New York Watch Auction: X New York Saturday, June 8, 2024 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1958
    Reference No: 6541; additionally stamped 6541 and IV.1958 on inside caseback
    Movement No: DDN’885’003
    Case No: 412’169
    Model Name: Milgauss
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1055, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet, reference 7206, endlinks stamped 58, max overall length 210mmm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp, reference 6251 H, stamped “G”
    Dimensions: 39mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement, and bracelet signed.
    Accessories: Accompanied by Rolex chronometer certificate dated September 19th, 1962 with case number matching, original purchase receipt dated October 9th, 1969, original purchase order and shipping documents dated November 28th, 1969, and additional original acrylic crystal.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Released in 1956, the reference 6541 represents the very first iteration of the Milgauss. The model targeted 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 measure for a magnetic field. The Milgauss overcomes the effects of magnetic fields by using anti-magnetic alloys and an iron inner movement case to create a Faraday cage.

    Phillips is honored to offer for the first time in our history, a Rolex Milgauss reference consigned directly by the original owner. Manufactured in 1958, the most prominent feature of the watch is its unusual and somewhat whimsical seconds hand in the shape of a lightning bolt. Giving the watch an unmistakable appearance is the beautifully preserved and exceedingly rare “honeycomb” dial that has aged to a stunning and uniform “tropical” brown hue with non-luminous circular hour markers and faceted triangular indexes at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. The originally red “Milgauss” designation has faded to pink. Its case number 412’155 is consistent with other examples of the reference, as most appear to bear a 412’xxx serial number. Fitted with Rolex’s caliber 1066, its bridge features an engraved ‘M’ specific only to the Milgauss model.

    An American bass guitarist for bands such as McKendree Spring, and an educator, the original owner was traveling through Switzerland in the summer of 1969 as recently documented in a Bloomberg article in which he was interviewed. An enthusiast of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, his curiosity about Rolex was piqued, and he and his wife wandered into a jewelry store in Zurich, where they were shown several Rolex wristwatches, among them this very Milgauss. Passing on it at the time, his wife secretly returned to the jewelry store and bought it. He wore it faithfully for many years until right after its last servicing, in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Not only is the original owner pictured wearing the watch in promotional images for his band, but also on the McKendree Spring 3 album insert. Accompanied with its original crystal, but also a new old stock, domed Rolex ‘tropic’ crystal was recently installed, remarkably, he retained the chronometer certificate dating to 1962, his original purchase receipt, purchase order, and shipping documents from that trip in 1969. Still fitted on its original riveted Oyster bracelet, the present lot is a superb, all original example of this highly coveted 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. 6541; additionally stamped 6541 and IV.1958 on inside caseback
A fresh-to-the-market, impressively well-preserved, and highly attractive amagnetic stainless steel wristwatch with “tropical” honeycomb dial, "lightning" hand, bracelet, chronometer certificate, and original purchase receipt, consigned by the original owner

Circa 1958
39mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement, and bracelet signed.

$120,000 - 240,000 

Sold for $241,300

Contact Specialist

Paul Boutros
Deputy Chairman, Watches, Head of Watches, Americas
+1 (212) 940-1293

Isabella Proia
Head of Sale, New York
+1 (212) 940 1285

The New York Watch Auction: X

New York Auction 8 - 9 June 2024