Rolex embraced electricity’s presence and decided to create a watch that could withstand the conditions of the modern day work environment. In 1958, they released a watch that was prepared to deal with these new demands: the Rolex Milgauss, reference 6541.
The reference 6541 Rolex Milgauss came in two variations: one with a rotating bezel, featuring a minute scale (similar to that of a Submariner), and one with a large, fixed, flat bezel that was primarily intended for U.S. markets. Both versions were fitted with a lightning bolt-shaped seconds hand – an ever-present reminder of the Milgauss’s electromagnetic resilience.
Although it was originally invented for scientists and medical technicians working in the proximity of high-powered lab equipment, the reference 6541 Rolex Milgauss found an early following with members of the professional automobile-racing world. While it did not possess any features specifically tailored to racing, the Rolex Milgauss reference 6541’s sports-oriented style and lightning bolt-shaped seconds hand made it aesthetically fitting for those whose career revolved around the pursuit of speed.Rolex was able to achieve this feat by encasing the entire movement inside a Faraday cage. The Faraday cage (first invented by Michael Faraday in 1836) works by redistributing electromagnetic charges throughout the cage’s conducting material, thus neutralizing the effects present inside the cage.
The rotating bezel variant of the reference 6541 is truly unique among the Milgauss line of watches, as it most closely resembles an early iteration of Rolex’s Submariner. However, the flat bezel version of the reference 6541 Rolex Milgauss marks the point in the watch line’s history where the famous electromagnetic timepiece started to take its final form.