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3 Mar

Taking A Look Inside Breitling’s Emergency Mission Chronograph

A look inside Breitling's Emergency Mission watch

Breitling’s Emergency watch is a clever piece of equipment, the world’s first wristwatch with a dual frequency locator beacon, its SOS signal enables the wearer to access emergency help in any distress situation (on land, sea or in the air).

Breitling Emergency watch

In 1995, Brietling launched the Emergency I, which featured a built-in micro transmitter, operating on the 121.5 MHz air distress frequency.  Subsequent to this, it launched the Emergency Mission (pictured here), a second variation of the Emergency it featured the looks of a more traditional Breitling Chronograph combined with the functionality of the Emergency.

Breitling Emergency Mission watch

Its design was characterised as the ‘more civilian’ version of the original Emergency, but it still worked off the same 121.5 MHz frequency, with the average range of its signal (on land or sea) as 90 nautical miles for a plane flying at 20,000 ft.

Breitling Emergency Mission chronograph

Five years of development later, Breitling launched the Emergency II which operated on a 406 MHz digital frequency making it possible to launch an alert from anywhere in the world, via a network of space satellites.


Water resistant to 100m, the Breitling Emergency Mission features a quartz movement, bi-directional bezel, 45mm case, luminous indexes and screw down crown. It’s a chunky piece of wristwear, heavy to wear and bulky in look.

Breitling Emergency on the wrist

The case is thicker than a regular Breitling watch because it needs to house the electronic module, which is responsible for sending the SOS frequency. This module is powered by a separate battery which is bigger in size to enable a higher consumption.

Breaking down a Breitling Emergency Mission

The caseback of the watch remains part of the case, not a separate entity and the lower half houses the emergency SOS module, with the upper half featuring the movement, dials and hands.

Breitling Emergency mission caseback

Breitling Mission electronic module

Breitling Emergency watch movement

TIP: We recommend having this watch water tested periodically, as it features many gaskets and they can wear over time. For more advice on servicing, see our Service Center page >

The emergency beacon is activated by unscrewing the lower crown - a spiral is attached to this which you pull out, activating the beacon with an SOS signal on the 121.5 MHz frequency.

Breitling Emergency watch screw

The Breitling Emergency has two separate modules, the standard ETA movement and a separate circuit board, so as a watchmaker you have to be very careful when overhauling such a watch.

How to test a Breitling emergency watch at home

How To Test Your Breitling Emergency Watch At Home 

If you want to test your Breitling Emergency watch at home, you’ll need a radio which you can tune to the 121.5 MHz frequency (Aircraft Emergency Frequency).

Testing a Breitling Emergency Mission watch

There’s a button on the back of the watch which you can press, this will activate the SOS signal and you can listen to it at short range with the walkie talkie receptor.



Practiced horology since the age of 15, successfully took apart, cleaned and assembled a Rolex Submariner Cal. 3135 at the age of 19, further improved his watchmaking skills with NAWCC School of Horology. “It has been 15 years since I took apart my first watch, my goal is to repair every timepiece ever produced”.

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