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Breitling Emergency

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Kleen Edelmetalen
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Breitling Emergency: The Emergency Signal Watch

The Breitling Emergency is the first wristwatch worldwide to feature a dual-frequency distress signal. An effective tool for saving lives, it's the perfect watch to have in an emergency, whether on land, water, or in the air.


  • Wristwatch with a distress beacon
  • 51-mm titanium case
  • Chronograph function
  • Displays a second time zone (GMT function)
  • COSC-certified quartz caliber

Breitling Emergency: Developed for Professionals

Breitling first introduced the Emergency as a part of their Professional collection in 1995. The company worked together with professionals to develop this wristwatch with a distress beacon. The Emergency is designed so that it can save lives in emergency situations. Breitling engineers designed the watch to include a micro-transmitter together with two antennas. In case of emergency, the watch can transmit a distress signal on the 121.5 MHz frequency. Every plane within a 160 km radius of the signal that's flying at a height of 6,000 m will receive the signal. The micro-transmitter is powered by two lithium batteries that last 48 hours once activated.
The watch also features alarm, countdown, and GMT functions as well as a chronograph, or stopwatch function. Thanks to its incredibly precise quartz caliber, it can measure time to 1/100th of a second. In comparison, mechanical chronographs like the Chronomat or the Navitimer can only measure to 1/8th of a second. The display is analog, though there are two digital displays for the additional functions.
The Emergency's successor, the Breitling Emergency II, released in 2013, has a dual-frequency distress beacon. The term "beacon" means "signal." A distress beacon is a kind of tracking transmitter which sends your position via radio to emergency responders. Satellites can locate the Emergency II thanks to this dual-frequency distress beacon, which increases signal scope and the likelihood that rescuers will track you down. The case of this 51-mm watch is made of titanium, which makes it very robust and lightweight. Domed sapphire glass, which is anti-reflective on both sides, gives you a clear view of the dial. The watch's bezel rotates in both directions and features a compass.

Buying Advice

If you're looking for a watch for emergency situations, then the Breitling Emergency is perfect for you. Using its integrated distress beacon, rescuers can locate and rescue you much more easily. Thanks to the watch's titanium case, it's ready for professional use in the cockpit, on board a ship, or outdoors. Pre-owned models in good condition are available for around 2,500 euros, while new models cost about 11,000 euros.

Innovative Technology for Emergency Situations

The Emergency is equipped with a micro-transmitter which uses the Cospas-Sarsat system, an international satellite-based search and rescue system. It's based on a network of geostationary (GEOSAR) and low-altitude (LEOSAR) satellites plus ground receiving stations and control and coordination centers. The system provides precise location data to search and rescue teams. Rescue teams have saved over 26,000 lives since the introduction of the Cospas-Sarsat system in 1985.
The Breitling Emergency's dual-frequency distress beacon alternates sending two signals out on different frequencies. Every 50 seconds it transmits a digital signal on the 406 MHz frequency intended for satellites. This signal delivers complete information, reduces false alarms, and offers more security. Every 2.25 seconds, the micro-transmitter transmits a second signal on the 121.5 MHz frequency. This is received by ground stations on land, airplanes and helicopters in the sky, and boats in the sea. It helps to precisely locate the injured party and facilitate their rescue.

The Emergency's Antenna System

The Breitling Emergency is easy to use in everyday situations as well as in emergencies. Breitling added two antennas to the lower part of the watch for emergency situations. You simply pull them out after unscrewing the cap on the right side of the case. The correct direction to turn the cap is indicated by an arrow. After turning, you pull each antenna out as far as it goes and the cap automatically releases once it's at the correct length. After you've pulled out both antennas, the watch starts transmitting the distress signals. The antennas function in a wide range of environments; they are able to withstand extreme temperatures ranging from -20 to +55 °C (-4 to +131 °F). Like a mini-instruction manual, all of the steps are clearly written on the case back.
Breitling developed a special battery for the Emergency in order to supply it with power. It's remarkably more efficient than traditional batteries. With the help of a charging and testing device, you can test how full the battery is and charge it if needed. Thus, you'll never run out of power in an emergency. The testing device also assesses your watch's functionality.

More Than Just a Tool for Emergencies

The Emergency has more to offer than just a micro-transmitter and distress beacon. Breitling's Caliber 76 is COSC-certified. Since the caliber is a quartz movement, that means that it underwent much stricter testing than a mechanical movement. A mechanical caliber is allowed to deviate a maximum of -4/+6 seconds per day. A quartz movement, on the other hand, may only deviate -/+ 0.07 seconds a day. This is equal to 2.1 seconds a month and 25.55 seconds a year. The average quartz movement deviates about 10 to 30 seconds from the official time each month.
A thermocompensated SuperQuartz Caliber 76 powers the Emergency. It's barely affected by temperature fluctuations. The time is displayed in a traditional, analog fashion with hands. However, it also features two LCD screens which are used to control the chronograph or timer function. The Emergency can measure time to 1/100th of a second. Furthermore, the watch can display the time in another time zone (GMT function), and the calendar is multilingual.


  • 1/100th second chronograph
  • Timer function
  • Second time zone
  • Alarm
  • Multilingual calendar
  • Analog and digital displays
  • Battery life display

The Emergency's Design

The Breitling Emergency's look is tailored towards functionality through and through. The 51-mm case immediately catches the eye and is even larger than the sizeable watches from Panerai. Breitling uses lightweight, robust titanium for the cases. The Emergency's colorful dials are real eye-catchers, too. You have the additional choice between bright yellow or orange, if you want something a little more exciting than a standard black dial. The numerals at three, six, and nine are noticeably larger than the others and stand out. Breitling offers two different straps: a rubber strap and a three-link titanium bracelet.

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