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Rolex first debuted the Milgauss in 1954, the same year as the Submariner. As with the Submariner, Rolex intended the Milgauss to be a tool watch for those in a specific profession. Its name indicates the purpose those who designed it intended it to serve: the French mille (1000), and gauss, a unit for measuring a magnetic field. In this case, the Milgauss was meant for scientists--particularly those who work in conditions with high magnetism, such as engineers, radiologists, and researchers in labs like CERN in Geneva. A horological achievement for Rolex, the Milgauss marked the first time the brand produced an anti-magnetic watch.
The necessity of developing an anti-magnetic movement became apparent in the 19th Century. Vacheron Constantin experimented with anti-magnetism in 1843, although the brand didn't succeed in developing an anti-magnetic pocket watch until 1915. However, perhaps the most influential discovery in the development of an anti-magnetic movement occurred in 1896, when Charles Guillaume discovered Invar, a nickel-based, antimagnetic alloy. Guillaume followed up the discovery of Invar with the discovery of Elinvar, for which he would gain a Nobel Prize in 1920. Since Elinvar (in turn a contraction for the French elasticité invariable or "elastically invarible") resisted the changes in temperature that would cause hairsprings made of steel to lose elasticity, thereby decreasing accuracy, Elinvar proved invaluable to the watch industry.
IWC started to produce anti-magnetic pocket watch movements in 1888. With the introduction of the Mark XI, with its revolutionary iron-cased movement, the brand seemed to be on the forefront of this technology. IWC re-appropriated the iron casing of the Mark XI's movement--the Caliber 89--and designed a completely new caliber for the Ingeniuer, released in 1955.
But with the Milgauss, Rolex beat IWC to the punch. At first glance there's not much to distinguish the first Milgauss (Reference 6541 of 1954) from its fraternal twin, the Submariner: it shared a bezel with the Submariner, as well a modified Caliber 1065 movement. The 1065M of the Milgauss contained anti-magnetic components and, like the IWC Caliber 89, had an iron casing. The Milgauss underwent several design changes throughout the course of its first few years--a new bezel and seconds hand shaped like a lightning bolt--but continued to resemble its more famous brethren. Even the model with which Rolex succeeded the Reference 654, the Reference 1019, resembled the Explorer Reference 1016.
The Milgauss, with its rather unglamorous application, never enjoyed as much attention as Rolex's other purpose-driven watches: the Submariner, the Explorer, or the GMT. Thus, Rolex shelved the Milgauss in 1986, never to be seen again. Or so it seemed, certainly in the minds of vintage collectors, who continue to seek out early examples of the model, often at astronomical sums.
It was therefore a welcome surprise that Rolex would choose to reintroduce the Milgauss in 2007. Here, for a brand for which a different dial color is considered revolutionary by collectors, was something new--proving the truth of the old adage, "everything old is new again." Unlike the first Milgauss, the new Milgauss (Reference 116400) could be easily distinguished in a line-up. It was available with a white or black dial and a clear crystal, or--something in fact revolutionary for Rolex in particular and horology in general--a black or blue dial with a green crystal, all with the distinctive lightning bolt seconds hand. The latter, the Reference 116400GV (GV for glace verte) is what delighted collectors the most, because the brand had never before used a green crystal on any of their watches.
The watch we offer here, with the blue dial, was dubbed the "Z Blue" by collectors. While it retains some design elements of its compatriots (most notably the omni-present Oyster bracelet with polished center links), there's simply no other Rolex with a blue dial and a green crystal. Opinions on the Z Blue were polarized at first (no pun intended), and word was that the model would be a limited edition; however, the Z Blue endures; Rolex's quirkiest watch.
Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 40mm (excluding crown). Rolex Reference 116400GV. Rolex Caliber 3131 Self-Winding Movement. Circa 2014.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel Oyster case is in excellent condition, with minimal signs of use in keeping with handling, particularly on the sides of the case and the bezel. Dial is in likewise excellent condition with no signs of discoloration or water damage. Rolex crown; Rolex case back is in excellent condition.
Includes original 20mm Oyster bracelet with polished center links. Bracelet is in very good condition over all with some signs of use and wear, including some "desk-diving" scuffs on the clasp.
Also includes two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle
Includes box, papers, and hangtag.