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Breitling Emergency II Review

by Chester Lau on January 9, 2016

The Breitling Emergency II reinforces the brand’s leadership in tool watch technology and innovation as the very first wristwatch with a built-in personal locator beacon (PLB). The Emergency is equipped with a dual frequency transmitter compliant with the specifications of the Cospas-Sarsat international satellite alert system and works to issue alerts and to guide search and rescue missions.  


Breitling Emergency II



The Breitling Emergency II with dual transmitter beacons

Developed in conjunction with major scientific institutes, the Emergency is distinguished by numerous microelectronic and microtechnical innovations, including a revolutionary rechargeable battery, a miniaturized dual frequency transmitter and an unprecedented integrated antenna system – three features specifically developed for this model.

As the first wrist-type dual frequency PLB (Personal Locator Beacon), the Emergency is intended for a wide range of users engaged in many types of high risk activities around the world, including aviation, exploration, extreme sports, etc.


Caseback of the Emergency II with military type engraving.

The Emergency is equipped with a microtransmitter alternately operating on two separate frequencies.The first digital signal transmits on the 406 MHz frequency intended for satellites and the second analog signal transmits on the 121.5 MHz homing and rescue frequency.


A mixture of analog and digital display for the chronograph and calendar functions

The Emergency is notably distinguished by its user-friendly integrated antenna system. Its two extendable antenna “sections” housed in the lower part of the watch, are manually deployed on each side of the case. In order for a single minituarized device to transmit alternately on the two frequencies, the Emergency uses two separate antennas. The antenna length varies according to the wavelength.


The screw cap when removed reveals the antenna that is activated when fully extended.

Deploying the antenna automatically activates the transmitter. To do this, the user must first unscrew and pull out the cap on the main antenna on the righthand side of the case. The cap automatically comes free of the antenna when it is deployed to the right length. This operation releases the cap of the second section, which the user can then deploy according to the same principle. A clear reminder of all the stages is provided by a series of inscriptions on the watch. Once the two antennae are deployed, all that remains is to ideally position the watch so as to guarantee the best possible transmission performance.

The satin finished titanium case keeps the watch lightweight and delivers more comfort for its wearer.

The satin finished titanium case keeps the watch lightweight and delivers more comfort for its wearer.

Powering the watch was one of the biggest challenges for the Emergency II. This was largely due to the atypical current draw required by the dual transmitters. After considerable research, Breitling found that the ideal solution was to employ a rechargeable battery which is able to deliver more power than a standard battery.  There was however no product of this type that matched the profile of the Emergency. In collaboration with one of the cutting-edge institutes in this field, Breitling therefore developed a brand-new rechargeable battery specially created for this beacon-watch.


The Breitling Emergency II uses a thermocompensated SuperQuartz™ movement ten times more accurate than standard quartz.

Other functions of the Emergency II include an electronic chronograph featuring all the functions useful to professionals and adventurers: 12/24-hour analog and digital display, 1/100th second chronograph, alarm, timer, second timezone, multilingual calendar and battery end-of-life indication. It is equipped with a thermocompensated SuperQuartz™ movement ten times more accurate than standard quartz and chronometer-certified by the COSC (Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute) – the highest industry benchmark in terms of precision and reliability. The “watch” and “transmitter” parts have been designed as two distinct elements, totally independent in terms of both operation and energy source and thus ensuring enhanced security.


The Emergency II is cased in titanium, the choice metal for its lightweight and strength. It comes in three dial variations – black, yellow or orange – and fitted with a titanium bracelet or rubber strap. The satin-brushed bezel is engraved with a compass scale which can be used for navigation purposes. The sapphire crystal is anti-reflective treated on both sides, along with the luminescent hands and numerals, guarantee optimal readability in any conditions.

Concluding thoughts

The Breitling Emergency II is undoubtedly a luxury tool watch, perhaps more ideal for a wearer who almost certainly never has to activate the beacon. Its 51 mm size is proportional to its price tag we must say. At S$21,000, the Emergency II is possibly the most expensive Breitling model in production. For the same amount, one could trade for a Jaeger leCoultre Master Ultra thin Perpetual calendar and maybe 2 bottles of Chateau Marguax. Apart from the hefty price tag, some have voiced concerns over the practicality of the beacon transmitter- since most PLBs require additional services (some at extra cost) for someone to monitor the frequency and to react accordingly. Then of course we should not judge the Emergency II as purely a utility tool. It’s after all a luxury watch ideal for the gym, a day on the yacht, or a hot air balloon across the Atlantic. The luxury watch that could potentially save your life.

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