There are few watches that live up to their marketing hype, and even fewer that can claim to have genuinely saved lives. Breitling cheap replica watches hasve long been considered the pilot’s watch of choice, but it was the Breitling Emergency that solidified the company’s commitment to aviators and adventurers around the world with one truly unique complication — the personal locator beacon. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, we explore one of the most unique watches ever made.
The story began with Ernest Schneider, the man who acquired Breitling in 1979 when it was on the verge of collapse, and kept it afloat during the quartz crisis, thanks to a new generation of iconic Breitling models. An officer with the Swiss Army signal corps during World War II as well as a passionate pilot and engineer, he was involved in discussions at a NATO strap Breitling watch conference in the mid-1980s about emergency beacons and the high incidence of false activations which cost the relevant authorities significant time and money. It was at these talks that the idea of a watch with a personal locator beacon was born. Following the meeting, Breitling began working with Dassault Electronique to create reliable beacon technology that could be built into a wristwatch and after a decade of development, the Breitling Emergency was announced.
Released in 1995, the Emergency featured a beacon which, when activated, transmitted a signal on the international distress frequency of 121.5MHz (for owners in the military, the microtransmitter was changed to operate on the military distress band). This transmission could be received up-to 167km away and was directional, allowing authorities to locate the beacon with great accuracy. Initially the Emergency was only available to licenced pilots, but eventually the titanium watch was offered to the general public once a document was signed acknowledging their responsibilities in paying for rescue attempts in the event of a false alarm. Some military units even gifted the watches to their pilots as an unofficial insurance policy, with unconfirmed reports that the Emergency complemented official beacon systems and contributed to successful rescue missions. Meanwhile, if the transmitter was utilised during a true emergency situation, Breitling offered to replace the watch at no charge to the owner.