To appreciate the Emergency, it’s helpful to look at its history. In 1979, Cheap Breitling Replica was pulled from the ashes of bankruptcy by Ernest Schneider, who had a long history serving in the Swiss military. Schneider’s background in the Signal Corps and his later role spearheading the development of quartz watches at Sicura gave him an appreciation for practical wrist instruments. As a licensed pilot and watch enthusiast, he also had an appreciation for Breitling’s history as a longtime maker of aviation timepieces. Once he bought Breitling, he set out an ambitious plan to revive mechanical watchmaking on the one hand, but also to push the development of pilots watches for the modern era on the other.
The ’80s was the decade when analog-digital watches came into prominence, with great ones like the Seiko H558, the Citizen Aqualand, and the cult favorite Chronosport Sea Quartz UDT. The earliest Breitling examples, the Pluton and the Jupiter, were actually based on the Chronosport. But Schneider spurred Breitling to develop its own model and in 1985 the Aerospace debuted, with its revolutionary crown-operated functionality and sleek aesthetics. Long after other analog-digital watches faded in popularity, the Aerospace evolved and thrived, spawning spinoffs, like the Breitling Emergency Replica watches, the Chronospace, and, of course, the Emergency.
Not long after taking over Breitling, Ernest Schneider participated in a NATO roundtable discussion about the unreliability of emergency locator beacons and came away thinking it would be good if there existed a small, auxiliary transmitter a pilot could wear in the event he becomes separated from his downed aircraft. Schneider’s challenge to his engineers was to incorporate this sort of device into a wristwatch.For its first five years, the watch was only available for purchase by licensed pilots, but Breitling finally persuaded regulatory authorities to allow them to sell to anyone willing to sign an agreement not to activate the distress signal unless it was in a real emergency situation.
The jaded and cynical among us might be inclined to say that the fake watches Emergency was merely a marketing exercise. But let’s face it, there are much easier ways to sell watches than dumping millions into an unproven venture with a limited target market and a huge potential for failure. And that’s one of the reasons I like this watch. It represents a pure desire to create not only a useful device but a potentially lifesaving one, with only a passing aim to make it attractive. The Emergency is pure form following function and, I believe, one of the last of the true tool Replica Watches from any of the big Swiss brands. And though I think the latest Emergency, with its dual frequency transmitter, is equally impressive, its eye-watering price tag and massive case size mean that it’s inaccessible to regular adventurers like me and not nearly as charming a watch as the original Emergency was.The Emergency’s antenna is like a big red button with a sign that says, “DON’T PUSH,” more tempting than I could have imagined. But there it is on the side of the watch—the biggest, grippiest knurled crown I’ve ever seen, just begging to be unscrewed. To do so would uncoil the antenna, sending a distress signal to passing aircraft and getting me into a lot of trouble. Surrounding that massive crown, there’s even a black plastic tamper-proof ring that snaps off to add to the utter satisfaction of doing something you shouldn’t. So far, I’ve resisted the urge.