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A Buyer's Guide to The Breitling Emergency

Breitling Emergency

What makes the Breitling Emergency a highly significant timepiece within the brand? This model is one of the most iconic watches produced by Breitling. We begin to answer the question by explaining that if you were stranded on a desert island, or if you had somehow become a lone survivor of a plane crash in mountainous terrain, far from civilization, this is the single most important item you could have in your possession. The name Emergency describes its value in any situation where you are lost and cut off from the rest of the world. Whether you're a world traveler or an adventurer, this is a valuable accessory for ensuring that you have contact with the outside world. While nobody plans to get lost, it can happen to anyone. The Breitling Emergency is designed to provide you with an extra safety net while doing it with an aesthetically pleasing styling. It looks good on the wrist. This watch represents an investment, so it pays to be well-informed when you set out to obtain your own example. We've prepared a buyer's guide to help you know what to look for, and how to get the best possible deal on a Breitling Emergency watch.

History of the Breitling Emergency

The Emergency is a pilot's watch that was first manufactured in 1995. This would be Breitling's contribution to the communications problem associated with remote locations. The Emergency features an internal locator beacon and this magnificent technological innovation turned a timepiece into an emergency rescue signal for help. The Emergency was the first watch of this kind to ever be offered. It was designed by Ernest Schneider who bought the Breitling company. With an impressive military career, he understood the usefulness of such a device and he set about to create the technology that could be miniaturized to a size that would fit in as a watch complication. The process took years, but it emerged as a watch that could send out a beacon to transmit a signal over the international distress frequency. The first models were only sold to military personnel and licensed pilots. When it was opened up to the general public, only those willing to sign a waiver committing to avoid false alarms were allowed to purchase this powerful timepiece.

There are two versions of the Emergency

Before you buy a Breitling Emergency, it's important to know that there are two versions in the market. The Emergency II was developed in the mid 2000 era and released in 2013. It was necessary to revise the watch to confirm to the changes in the original international distress frequency. Authorities had started to phase it out. The Emergency II had to receive classification from authorities as an official PLB. This is how it gained access to th frequency that international search and rescue programs monitor. Other changes in the Emergency II include digital encoding of the new frequency with an enhanced range and safeguards to reduce false alarms. Although the second version of the Emergency is not as accurate, and it takes a larger battery, it's still revered for its high performing function as a locator signal beacon.

The Specifications of the Breitling Emergency II

The latter version of the Emergency is a dual-frequency PLB, which is good news for adventurers. The main drawback is that it's a big watch that measures 51 mm in width. The advantage of this size is that it's the smallest and thinnest PLB transmitter of its kind. The others are much larger and you don't get the benefit of time telling.

The case is made of lightweight titanium material and it comes with a matching bracelet. This helps to make it more comfortable for smaller wrists. The functions it offers in addition to the lifesaving features include a date function, a digital time display with 24 hour military styling as an option, a chronograph, a countdown timer, an alarm, and a second time zone. It's easy to operate with a single crown for setting the functions. The movement is a highly accurate Breitling SuperQuartz COSC certified chronometer movement.

Breitling Emergency new or used, which is best?

This is a question that depends on your budget and how well you can assess the quality of a high-end expensive watch and specialty electronics design. The Emergency represents an investment whether you buy it new or used. You can save several thousand dollars on a used model, but it's only a good deal if the watch is in excellent condition, and has been properly maintained. Here are a few things to consider when deciding to buy a used Breitling Emergency


Since the Emergency II models have only been out for less than a decade, you won't find a vintage example unless you happen to find an original Breitling Emergency from its first release. The first consideration is how well the watch was taken care of and its maintenance record. The owner should have paperwork that confirms the age of the watch, when it was manufactured and sold, along with records that confirm and identify the model numbers and any maintenance, cleaning or repairs that were made. Original Emergency watches are not likely to offer a working beacon signal because of changes made in the access to international rescue frequencies.


Check the watch to make sure that it is in excellent operating condition. Inspect it for signs of wear, damages, and anything that you can see that doesn't seem on par with the model year of the watch. If it's not in great condition, it might not be worth buying. Repairs can cost a pretty penny. If there is an identified problem, check with an authorized Breitling repair center and compare the cost to fix the watch to the difference in the price of a used example and a new one. An important thing to do before you even consider the sale is to make sure that the transmitter is working. There are testers that can confirm this.

Price and transfer of ownership

A used Breitling Emergency II that is in mint condition, with all of the certificates of authenticity and proof of genuineness will start at a price of 1,400 to 1,600 British pounds for an Emergency that is 4 to 5 years old. One that is 1.5 years old is valued at about 2,000 BP. The cost of a brand new Breitling Emergency II is 3.4,000 BP. At the time of the purchase, the seller needs to contact Breitling to let them know about the sale. He or she will deliver your Passport/ID number for recording in Breitling's official record of the transfer of ownership. You'll need to complete the declaration form and sign the waiver like all other Breitling Emergency owners.

Investigate the warranty balance

Depending on whether the Breitling Emergency you purchase is new or used, there may be a remaining warranty on the watch. It's important to confirm the remaining time and services available as the maintenance, cleaning and repair services from an authorized dealer can become expensive. It's helpful to know that each watch is checked for quality about 1,000 times before it is ever sold. Still, each Breitling watch is sold with a warranty program that needs a bit of explanation.

International warranty

The international warranty on Breitling's remains in force for two years after the purchase date, or five years if the watch comes with a mechanical manufacture movement. This provides protection if there are any defects in the watch discovered within the warranty period. Each watch comes with an international warranty card and it can be presented to any authorized Breitling repair service or dealer. The watch must have been purchased from an authorized Breitling dealer to be in effect and the card must have been activated at the time of the sale.

Voiding the agreement

If the Breitling Emergency has been taken to any repair or cleaning service that is not authorized to perform these services by Breitling, it can void the warranty. Other conditions include improper use of the watch, accidents such as accidents, crushing, shocks, blows, or theft, wear and tear, tampering with the internal working of the watch, water damage, and an inactivated warranty card. The movement is issued with a 5 year warranty program. The exceptions to coverage are straps that are not made of metal,. You can have your Breitling Emergency tested by an authorized dealer for zero cost and it is recommended that you make sure that water resistance tests are done every two years from the time that the watch was purchased. There is no charge for the tests. Before buying a pre-owned model check to make sure that all of the necessary documents are in order.

Test the signal

Once the distress signal has been activated, it can no longer be used until it is reset. This isn't something that can be done by an unauthorized dealer or the owner. It must be sent back to the factory in order to be rearmed. It's worth noting that sending a false alarm can quickly result in a fine of $100,000 if it's not a true emergency. You'll also be held liable for all of the costs associated with the deployment of the search and rescue team, so the costs can mount up rapidly. The watch is designed to be safe from accidental transmissions. There is a process involved in activating the beacon.

Make sure you have the user's manual

You'll need to have the instructions so you'll know how to operate this wonderfully complicated watch. The instructions for operating the emergency distress signal are detailed in the manual. It's an important part of the documentation that should be included with every new and used Breitling Emergency watch sold.

There are 11 styles of the Emergency to choose from

The Breitling Emergency is sold in a variety of variants. All share the same water resistance up to 100 feet, and provide an Emergency distress signal. The major differences are in the materials used, the complications included, and the price which ranges from $3,100 to $55,000.


The Breitling Emergency could end up being your most prized possession if you find yourself in an emergency situation. In addition to being a potentially life-saving accessory, it is also one of the most desired watches of pilots, adventurers and those who like interesting conversation pieces. There are 11 different styles of Emergency watches to choose from. This provides an excellent selection to please every taste in high-end luxury fashion. The most popular and best sellers are the moderately priced variants around $3,000. They're high quality and multi-functional timepieces. It pays to be wary when purchasing a used Emergency watch. To begin with, there aren't many authentic examples that are offered for sale in used condition.It's important to confirm the authenticity of any used watch prior to purchasing. Make sure that there are documents available that you can confirm as genuine and that match the information that is inscribed on the watch you buy.

It's best to make your purchase from an authorized Breitling dealer to ensure its authenticity. Test the signal to make sure that it has not been deactivated and that it is in good working order. This is a valuable watch that might seem a little expensive, but if you have any reason to use the built-in distress signal, it will be worth many times the price that you paid for ownership. Our guide is intended to give you reliable information to help you find the best possible deal on a Breitling Emergency watch, and to walk away with a sense of satisfaction after completing the deal.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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