Most Rolex watches are products of slow incremental change. The Submariner, Explorer, and GMT-Master II are clear evolutions of a distinct blueprint; the oldest and newest references are undeniably related. The Rolex Milgauss (Ref. 116400) is perhaps the most divergent watch in the brand’s lineup. Not only has the Milgauss seen sweeping changes with each generation (i.e. the Ref. 6541 to the Ref. 1019), it was discontinued for nearly 20 years. Upon its return in 2007, the Milgauss received a very colorful makeover: green tinted sapphire, a bright orange lightning bolt second hand (borrowed from the Ref. 6541), and a few years later, the sunburst “Z Blue'' dial. A watch with this many colors is frankly shocking coming from Rolex, but its eccentricity made the 116400 somewhat of a cult favorite.
2023 is the 16th production year of the Rolex Milgauss 116400. With the exception of a few dial/crystal variations, nothing has changed about this watch. I predict that a new Milgauss is on the way. Let’s explore what it might look like.
What Will the New Milgauss Look Like?
Image Source: wearingtime.com
Because the Milgauss has a history of drastic changes, it’s hard to predict with any certainty what a new Milgauss will look like. It’s safe to say it’ll be antimagnetic: this is the defining characteristic of the Milgauss and where it receives its name (mille = 1,000 and gauss = a unit of magnetism). Today, hairspring materials like silicone, Parachrom, and Nivarox have made extreme anti-magnetism somewhat standard. With that, anti-magnetism is no longer the primary selling point of the Milgauss. Rolex instead leans into the watch’s “unique identity”: a phrase repeatedly used on the Milgauss’ product page.
Visually, I would love to see Rolex iterate upon the 116400. They’ve landed on a design that a lot of people like, and there’s plenty of room for variation. Red is an obvious color to implement, having appeared on the first two Milgauss models (Ref. 6541 and 1019). Additionally, red and green are complementary colors, welcoming the green sapphire to stick around for the new model. I would love to see the orange accents on the black dial 116400 made red (pictured below): the ‘Milgauss’ text, lightning bolt second hand, 5-minute Arabic numerals, and the 3, 6, 9 hour indices. This would be a lot more red than any previous model, but it would surely catch the attention of enthusiasts. Combined with a green sapphire crystal, this watch would almost definitely receive a Christmas themed nickname.
Manipulated Render. Original Image Source: rolex.com
The Milgauss is also due for a movement upgrade. It still sports the Rolex caliber 3131 from its launch in 2007. While the 3131 is no slouch, it’s nothing compared to the brand’s modern offerings in terms of power reserve and shock resistance. In all likelihood, the new Milgauss will feature the Rolex caliber 3230. This is the movement powering every modern time-only Rolex.
Will We See a New Milgauss at Watches and Wonders?
Image Source: watchpro.com
Of course, the safest Rolex prediction is to predict nothing at all. But where’s the fun in that? The Milgauss is way overdue for a refresh. If we don’t see a new Milgauss at Watches and Wonders Geneva 2023, we’ll likely see one soon after that. I predict that Rolex won’t completely redesign the Milgauss as they’ve done in the past. The fact that the 116400 has been in production for 16 years gives the impression that they like the watch (and they know we like it, too). A movement upgrade is a must, new colors (red) are likely, and I wouldn’t mind the addition of crown guards a la the new Rolex Air King (Ref. 126900). Only time will tell if Rolex releases a new Milgauss, but if/when they do, my predictions are now written in internet stone for everyone to send me when they’re wrong.