Cigar Aficionado

Breitling Emergency

You've crash-landed your twin-engine airplane on an uncharted island. Panic is mounting as you recall Tom Hanks's four-year-long quandary on that godforsaken island in Cast Away. Then you glance at your Breitling Emergency watch and the panic subsides. There's time.

With a built-in rescue transmitter, the Breitling Emergency is equipped for exactly this situation. You turn the thick knob located just southeast from the watch face until it snaps. Running from the watch body to the unscrewed cap is a 43-cm, thin wire antenna. The signal is activated, and you can await rescue, pondering the inevitable hike to your insurance premiums.

Breitling engineered its Emergency watches with homing beacons that complement a downed aircraft's own distress signal. When activated, the miniaturized transmitter broadcasts a signal on the 121.5 MHz aviation distress frequency at a range of approximately 100 miles. That frequency is monitored up by Cospas-Sarsat, an international search-and-rescue operation. The watch's rescue signal will remain operational for 48 hours. (The batteries that operate the watch are separate from those that power the transmitter.)

If the emergency situation goes away, the beacon signal can be terminated. Use it wisely, however: the beacon needs to be rearmed at the factory after one use. Another reason not to set it off lightly is the $100,000 fine assessed by the Federal Aviation Administration, plus search-and-rescue costs, that go with a full-scale false rescue.

Of course, a watch that makes you look like a pilot should also look cool. The Emergency strikes a bold profile (15.7 mm in thickness; 43 mm in diameter), and its heft (84.6 grams) calls for a strong wrist. Its analog face is supplemented by a digital strip that can keep time in another time zone or act as a countdown timer or an alarm.

The Breitling Emergency shown here is constructed of titanium, with glare-proof sapphire crystal protecting the face, and retails for $3,500. All 11 different styles of Breitling Emergency watches are water-resistant up to 100 feet and range in price from $3,100 to $55,000.

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