By Laurie Kahle, November 03, 2015
Now available in the U.S., Breitling’s Emergency II, with next–generation emergency beacon technology, could have come from Q’s British Secret Service laboratory. Introduced in 2013 and only recently approved by the FCC for U.S. sales, the new Emergency incorporates a second transmitter to pinpoint your location for search and rescue teams.
The original 1995 Emergency transmitted on the 121 MHz air distress analog frequency, but in 2009, the Cospas-Sarsat international satellite network moved to the more advanced 406 MHz digital frequency. The 121 MHz frequency is still received on land, at sea and in the air, so Breitling set out to develop an Emergency watch that transmits on both networks. Emergency II is the world’s first wrist-worn beacon with a dual Personal Locator Beacon (PLB).
Breitling spent years working on a new circuit with the help of an outside organization that specializes in aerospace, defense, and industry. The biggest challenge was designing a powerful dual-frequency microtransmitter that could fit within the limited confines of a wristwatch case.
For pilots, boaters, hikers, and other adventurer seekers, the original Emergency watch has been a lifesaver. When Mark Spencer of Anchorage, Alaska, became stranded and hypothermic in the Alaska backcountry during a grizzly bear hunting expedition, he activated the watch’s Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT), and a rescue crew picked up the signal, located him, and lifted him to safety by helicopter. Breitling reports that the watch has aided in 22 rescues.
Emergency II features a crown at the bottom of the case that you unscrew to extend the antennas, which activate the watch’s microtransmitter. For 24 hours, distress calls are sent on the 406 MHz frequency for satellites every 50 seconds alternating with alerts on the analog homing and rescue frequency every 2.25 seconds. Just don’t play around with the transmitter or you will face fines for triggering a false alarm.
To ensure the beacon remains fully charged and ready to go when you embark on your adventures, Breitling worked with one of the top institutes in battery technology to develop a super-powered rechargeable battery along with a special battery charger and transmitter tester.
Breitling’s “SuperQuartz” Caliber 76 powers the watch functions, which include a 12/24-hour analog and LCD digital time display, 1/100th-second chronograph, alarm, timer, second time zone, multilingual calendar and battery end-of-life indicator. The brawny 51 mm titanium case weighs only 140 grams and is water-resistant to 50 meters. .
“Emergency is more than a watch,” says Thierry Prissert, president of Breitling USA. “It is something unique that only Breitling has mastered in terms of microengineering and microphysics. We are the only company who makes this, no one else has even tried.”