$16,000 Breitling Emergency II Watch Has Built-In Satellite Beacon

Kit Up reports on a new $16,000 watch from Swiss watchmaker Breitling that incorporates a satellite distress beacon as well as a shorter-range homing beacon.

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.

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.

Fitting a high powered 406 mhz transmitter into a watch is no small feat. While a shorter-range 121 mhz homing beacon (1800 nautical miles of range) transmit with about 0.1 watt of power, a digital 406 mhz satellite beacon must transmit at around 5 watts. For comparison  if you have a high-end wifi-access point at home, it will be transmitting at no more than 1 watt. In order to do this the watch sacrifices itself and cannot be used again. The heat from the high-powered transmitter probably melts the small non-metal components in the watch. The watch also lacks a GPS receiver so it cannot transmit GPS coordinates along with the distress signal, something that most Personal Locator Beacons are capable of.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Raven

    Or you could buy a $70 Timex, a $350 sat beacon, and spend your extra $15,000 on something like, say, a friggin’ car.

    • I guess if you have a bunch of money the toys get more expensive. I shouldn’t call this a toy since there have been 22 saves from those using the first model.

      • Zane

        Where did you acquire that statistic? I’m amazed that they even sold 22 of these, and that 22 rich people managed to get lost to the point that they needed to be “saved.” This product is for the birds. If I were going to wear something to bait criminals to mug me I would at least get a Rolex or something that would have decent resale value.

        • HMSLion

          The retail price is NOT what people pay. And the old Emergency was a lot cheaper.



        • That stat came from the company. That was with the first gen model. After it’s used it’s trash but they give you a new watch to replace the one you had to use.

          There actually are a lot of people who can afford them. Just not me:-)

  • RocketScientist

    The price is of course prohibitive but I gotta respect the engineering required to fit all that into such a small package.


      How much engineering can you really do on a watch that wold require that price tag?? Look what an iphone can do compared to this thing, the tech on a smart phone is far more advanced! and for way way less cost

      • RocketScientist

        Well for instance, an iPhone does not contain a 406 mHz
        emergency locator beacon, does not have a battery offering 24 hr operation, and
        does not fit comfortably on your wrist. As for what engineering is required, I
        specifically meant the electrical/signals engineering and materials science
        engineering to allow such a transmitter, battery, and power supply to be placed
        in such a compact space. Google image search ‘406 mHz ELT’ and notice the
        typical size/weight of one of these devices. We’re talking size/weight of a bag
        of flour. Cramming that much transmitter and power storage into such a small
        space is NOT easy. This would have been bleeding-edge spy-satellite level of
        tech not too many years ago.

      • Chrome Dragon

        You raise an intriguing possibility – why *doesn’t* the iPhone have a 406MHz/121.5MHz beacon on board? It’s got a giant brick ‘o battery compared to this watch, a GPS/GLONASS system for transmitting accurate coordinates, and could shut down all the user-facing electronics to dedicate its entire power supply to transmitting location pulses for 24 hours.

        • Samuel Suggs

          well recent events certainly demontrate the potential for the abuse of such a tecknology but aside from that i would have to guess lack of consumer demand and apples pathlogical need to maintain a low weight stat despite the fact that people with degerative muscle dissorder make up a small percentage of their custom base which also exsplains why their copetitors have better battery lives

          • Chrome Dragon

            First: There’s no way to hide the operation of a satellite beacon the size of an iPhone from the user; it’ll rip through your battery unless the rest of the phone is shut down, and it will *get* hot and *stay* hot. There’s no way to do that surreptitiously that can’t be done better with cellular networks. The ability to summon help beyond the range of cellular links, however, would not go amiss.

            By using a software-defined radio, they could combine the cellular and wi-fi radios and actually reduce weight, size, and power consumption all while leaving more room for the battery.

            There wasn’t much customer demand for GLONASS or panoramic camera functions either, but they’ve proved useful and popular. Regarding battery life, I haven’t used Android phones since my current contract started, but the iPhone had a substantially better battery than any Android phone I used; the iPhone 5’s smaller battery was quite a disappointment to me.

            As an aside, some of their competitors have clearly gone too far: http://techcrunch.com/2013/06/08/the-need-for-a-simple-phone/

          • Samuel Suggs

            Thank you for pointing out the fact that the addition of a satellite beacon would result in perceived rather than real potential for government abuse, the issue of course being that from a sales standpoint perception is reality, if Gizmodo writes some sensationalist article about how the new satellite beacon could just maybe help the NSA drone strike your ass, then lots of people won’t buy it it’s just exceptionally bad press right now and for the foreseeable future regardless of how much sense it makes from a logical standpoint. on the subject of battery life let me say that I was thinking thickness not width all phones are guilty of ignoring actual pocket dimensions in favor of a bizarre fetish for thinness if nothing else I would like someone to come out with a phone marketed to a backpacker/Hippy market with a large battery and integrated solar panel until then I will be sleeping in my tinfoil hat with my 3g Open Pandora angrily emailing tech writers who call it a “mobile console” instead of the proper “mobile open source gaming PC with a focus on emulation”

          • Chrome Dragon

            Anonymous delivers: http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/14/intivation-intros-umeox-apollo-smartphone-100-solar-powered/

            There’s also the Earl “backcountry tablet”; it includes a 5 watt digital transmitter for GMRS – I wonder if can send pings on 406 MHz? It shows 467.5 MHz as an example, and it wouldn’t surprise me much if it *could* bang out a panic signal at the appropriate frequency with the right software. Amusingly, it can sync to a heart-rate monitor and automatically send an alert if something drastic happens. I’d posit that a combination heart rate / blood oxygen / blood pressure sensor would be better at calling for help while you’re busy going into shock, but the first one just got invented.

          • Samuel Suggs

            thank you chrome dragon that awsome, it realy is too bad its a concept phone and not an actuall product

          • Samuel Suggs

            the heart rate monitor sounds how do I put this undue alarm prone not that it dosent represent the rudiments of a good idea that being electronic medical montoring and alets, but I simply see the thing causeing immense trouble for a heart patient and much distress for his or her family

          • Chrome Dragon

            Actually, immediately alerting a heart patient’s cardiologist and forwarding anomalous EKG readings for review are a *great* idea – in a heart attack or stroke, “time is tissue” and you can have treatment for heart attack start the moment an (automatically dispatched) ambulance shows up rather than waiting for a diagnosis – since the ambulance was rolled with a known diagnosis. Also, use of telemetry like that will reduce the incidence of false alarms, lowering the cost of unneeded emergency medical services due to heartburn.

          • Chrome Dragon

            From the developers of Earl: “With the current radio chipset, we’re already planning a beacon on 406MHz. Developers could create an app that automatically starts sending out signal when significant force is sensed.”


            It *does* appear to be a software-defined radio, much like I suggested for the iPhone 6. I may have to grab one of these as my next GPS receiver.

          • Chrome Dragon

            I’m disappointed I forgot this, since I used to have one: the Samsung Replenish. Its solar cell was an optional backplate replacement, and I’m not sure if it was ever actually released – but it was going to be the first solar Android phone for the US market.

          • Samuel Suggs

            thats awsome i will look that up

    • Marc

      A 121.5 MHz oscillator modulated by a swept audio generator, a 406.025MHz oscillator modulated by a 24 bytes long digital number from a small microcontroller, a lithium battery, and several inches of wires as antenna. Under $100 of electronic components. Oh ya, I forgot the watch…

  • Stu

    The “Firearm” Blog

    • BryanS

      “Posted 17 hours ago in Other Gear & Gadgets”

      • Criticalthinkingiscritical

        Still on the “Firearm” blog. Even the “other gear & gadgets” should be directly related to firearms in some way.

        Watches, knives, socks, shoes, etc. have no place here.

        Unless the front page is auto-filtered to just show Firearm related content it doesn’t matter that they post this type of stuff under “other gear & gadgets”.

        • gunslinger

          yeah because you pay so much to read this article.. oh wait…

          FSA maybe?

          don’t like it? don’t read the article

          don’t like where TFB is going? don’t come to the site.

          It seems most of us don’t mind the “non-firearm” articles. unless they are just not reading and not speaking.

          if it’s that bad, people would stop coming here, ad revenue would dry up, and TFB would either need to fold or change their direction. i don’t see this happening.

          now, would a spotting scope be acceptable? it’s not a direct firearm. what about holsters? it doesn’t shoot. safes?

          come on man. really. it’s not like we have a review on window treatments here or how to make a nice spinach quiche.

        • Lets not go back to that tired old gripe. We’ll cover knives and other items that people have asked for or TFB decides is appropriate content. If it’s not what you want to read just skip it. It’s not like you’re losing any gun coverage because of the other content.

  • noob

    I get the impression this is for the executive who has everything – including a price on his head.

    of course, if I was kidnapping you, I’d strip you of everything that could possibly hold a tracking device as soon as I had you in the van.

    can a device like this be hidden in a body cavity and activate on removal?

    • Hinermad

      If you can afford that watch, you can afford to hire someone to hide it in -their- body cavity.

    • Chrome Dragon

      Strictly speaking, you’d probably attenuate the radio signal too much for reliable detection. Less likely if you’re skinny, more likely if you’re heavy.

      • Samuel Suggs

        I assume your doing this intentionally

        • Chrome Dragon

          No, totally. 😀

          It’s *also* technically correct, because it’s funnier when you can deadpan the truth.

  • DougE

    I appreciate the tech that went into this watch, but $16,000? I just googled sat phones and there are some models for $500, and that’s a phone. If you can just drop $16G for a beacon watch, you could spend some cash on some navigational training instead.
    What do I know though, I’m on something called a “budget.”

    • SAT phone? Funny you should mention that:-)

      • Vermin.308Winchester

        Not sure why that’s funny is it because people keep say that same thing

  • RickH

    Oh brother. These are the type of super expensive gadgets that GQ and golf magazines love to showcase.

  • 032125

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this watch to call for exfil when operating in Tier 0 operations.

    No seriously. I can’t tell you. And now I have to kill you. Nothing personal.

  • Samuel Suggs

    why wasnt this posted on all outdoor god knows they need more love

  • Marc

    Must this watch be sold for $16,000? I have to give that amount of money each year to the f***ing landlord… Search And Rescue for rich people only, let the poors be dying…

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