Breitling Unveils $16,000 ‘Emergency II’ Watch


PARIS — Breitling SA, the closely held maker of luxury Swiss watches, unveiled what it billed as the first wristwatch equipped with a dual-frequency transmitter to help the pilot or adventurer signal help in an emergency.

The company in 1995 introduced customers to the first watch with a built-in personal locator beacon. Now, it has rolled out a similar but more advanced product, called the Emergency II.

The device, which will sell for about $16,000 (12,000 Euro), is designed to be compliant with new frequencies used for search and rescue operations in North America and Europe, according to Jean-Paul Girardin, vice president at the company.

“You can use this beacon for any type of emergency distress situation,” he said during a news conference announcing the product Tuesday at the Paris Air Show.

The company spent five years developing the technology, which makes several breakthroughs in miniaturization, Girardin said. The watch features a rechargeable battery, dual frequency transmitter and antenna system.

In an emergency, the user would activate the transmitter by unfastening the main antennae cap on the right-side of the watch, pulling out the wire, then performing a similar step with the secondary antennae on the left-side of the device.

The watch would then begin transmitting signals on two frequencies over a 24-hour period.

The first transmits a digital signal on the newly designated 406 megahertz frequency to satellites for alert and homing, according to a brochure distributed by the company. The second transmits an analog signal on the 121.5 megahertz frequency — the international air distress frequency — used for homing and rescue operations, it states.

The latter is being phased out for satellite processing; the digital signal offers the potential for better security, more information and less risk of false alarms, according to the brochure. But the analog signal is still used by ground control stations, ships and aircraft, and remains the most reliable system for homing in on victims, it states.

The technology relies on the international Cospas-Sarsat satellite system and its network of spacecraft in low-altitude earth orbit and geostationary orbit, according to the brochure. The system since its launch in 1985 has helped to save more than 26,000 people, it states.

Breitling has sold about 40,000 previous versions of the emergency watch, which has helped to save more than 20 people, Girardin said.

The new watch features a titanium case and a dial that comes in three colors: black, yellow or orange.

Once the transmitter is activated, the watch cannot be reused, Girardin said. “It’s a one-shot device,” he said. However, if the emergency is an actual distress situation and not a false alarm, the company will replace the watch at no charge, he said.

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Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • matt

    And affordable too!

    • TyW

      Are you kiddin? WTF!

  • moondawg

    Despite the cost, I am sure that the watch would be attractive to many of the non-military special operators in our government service. White house warriors, senior operators in the IRS, Dept of Education, HHS, EPA, and others could justify the issue of these watches..

  • Robek

    Now, for the other 99% of us , lets see an article on watches with built-in compasses or similar devices.

  • Rusty Shovel

    $16K? Last I checked, a SPOT cost $100. A Magellan Satellite Messenger costs about $250, and it transmits BOTH a distress signal and custom messages.

    Breitling has created the wonder of our age: A gold-plated product that only costs 1600 times more than its plastic twin. That ANYONE will purchase the Breitling is a miracle of modern marketing.

    • moondawg

      It is not too expensive for a U.S. government agency that has a perceived need for such a watch. If said agency were to buy in quantity, I am sure they could get maybe $250.00 knocked off the price of each watch.

  • AGL Bob

    So it costs you $16,000 to test it if you want to make sure it’s working?

    • Rusty Shovel

      Fantastic point Bob!

    • sam

      They include a test tool in the complete watch kit so you can test it without pulling the antenna out. lol

  • liam

    …any one who buy’s a watch like this…only one thing I have to say…BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!…SUCKER!!

  • Steve

    Most who buy them can afford them. The 16 k is high for most of us but many spen a lot more on other watches. This will not be their only watch. I understand from the bretling dealer it is a very arge watch, much bigger than the original emergency.

  • Jim

    I own a Breitling Aerospace. It doesn’t have a transmitter, and it’s about 10% the cost of the Emergency II– still expensive but not unreasonable for the quality. Breitling makes gorgeous watches. Sure, a $16k watch isn’t for everyone, but for a wealthy aviator, adventurer, etc. that’s more than affordable. If it’s a budget buster for you, there are plenty of cheaper PLBs out there that do the same thing, they just don’t come as beautifully wrapped as this.

  • Terry

    If price is a factor for you, there are plenty of alternatives at Walmart, happy bargain buying.

    • Terry the princess

      You sound a little cocky Terry. But your money does not make you more of a man!

  • Frank

    Last time I checked its hard to put a price on class. They do a good job in making a compact life saving product that is not plastic or bulky. You you know it will always be on your wrist when you need it not in a backpack stuck in your plane you just jumped out of, car that broke down or ship that sank…It is what it is if you can afford it kudos if not and you still want it, time to change professions.