Watch In Focus – IWC Pilot’s Watches

It’s easy to forget that heavier than air flight has only been possible for just over a century — not that much less than the advent of the motorised car — and that technology has improved a vast amount since. In the early years of aviation, pilots did not have the convenience of modern navigational technology, and so relied on charts, mathematics and mechanical instruments.

IWC Pilots' Watch Movement

IWC’s first pilots’ watch, the mark IX, was developed in 1936 in order to give pilots a more immediate reference than the pocket watches they were carrying at the time. Its focus was legibility, and the large luminescent markers applied to a black dial made it practical and usable, even in low light conditions, setting the bar for future pilots’ watch designs. The addition of a rotating bezel with a luminous triangle gave pilots a usable reference to track time at a glance.

The Second World War launched the pilots’ watch to the next level, and the vast amount needed by the German Luftwaffe required five brands to make the one common design. The watch was modelled around a pocket watch movement and as such was a whopping 55mm, the largest watch IWC have ever made. It had a central seconds hand and came in two styles that mimicked cockpit dials: one with the hours printed around the dial, and the other with the minutes printed around the dial and the hours printed on a smaller circle within.

IWC Big Pilots IW502618

These watches were designed to be simple, reliable, anti-magnetic, easy to read and tough, and had features like oversized crowns for use while wearing pilots’ gloves. The design evolved subtly into the IWC Mark XI, a smaller but similar watch with a much-copied stub-ended minute hand. The addition of a chronograph complication was included in the 1988 Pilots’ Chronograph, and then the Mark XI was surpassed by the Mark XII in 1994. This steadily evolved into the Mark XVI and Mark XVII, elegant pieces that embody everything that made the original Mark IV special.

IWC Pilot's Watches IW371702

IWC recognised that there were people who liked the style of the pilots’ watch but found it to be too plain, so the Spitfire range was created. The basic design remained the same, but the introduction of applied numerals, and layered and turned silver dials gave the watches more eye-catching appeal and made them a dressier alternative to the black dialed Mark XVI.

As a nod to the original, IWC launched the Pilot 1936 Handwound, a re-edition of the Mark IX. The closest IWC have come to a re-issue of the Second World War pilots’ watch is the Big Pilot, a seven day power-reserve 46.2mm watch — not quite the full 55mm, but big enough to make a statement on the wrist.

With so much history surrounding the pilots’ watch it’s easy to see why IWC continues its tradition, but it’s also good that this tradition has evolved to provide a more modern and exciting range within the Spitfire models. For anyone looking for an out-and-out classic, an IWC pilots’ watch is hard to beat.


  • IWC was one of five companies to manufacture pilot’s watches for the German armed forces during World War Two.
  • The case of the Top Gun Double Chronograph pilot’s watch is made from a single piece of zirconium oxide and is almost as hard as diamond.
  • The original pilot’s watches were as large as 55mm and were made using pocket watch movements.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from]

TIMELESS – THE DEEP BLUE : History of Diving Watches

So dangerous is the quest to explore the depths that more is known about the surface of Mars than of the blue liquid that covers two-thirds of our planet’ surface.

Not that danger has ever stopped mankind from exploring anything; records show that people have been deep-sea diving since ancient Roman times, often for combat, either by holding their breath or using long reeds as snorkels. The Greek philosopher Aristotle even described the first known diving bell as ‘a container not filled with water but air, which consistently assists the submerged man.’

The diving bell continued its development throughout the centuries, always following the same basic principle of trapping air inside an upturned container. By 1619, Sir Edmund Halley had adapted the concept further to include a tube from the diving bell that fed a sealed helmet, allowing the diver wearing it to freely walk the ocean bed without having to return for a fresh breath of air. The air supply in the main bell could even be replenished from barrels that were lowered down from the surface.

A century later and the diving bell had been replaced by longer hoses that directly fed a sealed diving suit, with bellows extracting the old air and pumping in new. By far the biggest leap in diving technology came in 1808 when French Naval mechanic Sieur Touboulic patented a self-contained oxygen tank that allowed the diver to carry his own supply of air with him, and a working design appeared twelve years later. Deeper diving began to expose the problem of decompression sickness, or ‘the bends’, a condition brought on by dissolved gases entering the body and becoming trapped inside during rapid decompression.

Up to this point, the diving suit had been large, heavy and cumbersome, but the early nineteenth century paved the way for more compact diving apparatus. Air could now be compressed into compact cylinders, with carbon dioxide scrubbing chemicals used to allow air to be rebreathed. With World War One recently over and World War Two just around the corner, the military application of diving technology accelerated the progression of development, not only for the diving apparatus itself, but also for the accessories that were necessary to dive safely.

One such accessory was the diving watch, which offered the crucial measure of time. This was important for two reasons: to keep track of air usage and to time decompression stops when resurfacing. Although some watches with the capability of being submerged in shallow water without leaking already existed, it wasn’t until 1932 that Omega released the first properly waterproof diving watch, the Marine. Rated to a depth of 135 metres, the Marine incorporated a sliding outer case that sealed the inner case from water.

Panerai’s commission from the Italian Navy prompted the next investment in watertight watches. Manufacturing technology had become accurate enough to create a tight seal without the need of a secondary case, and so the radium-painted Radiomir came into service with military divers.

In 1942, Émile Gagnan met Jacques-Yves Cousteau to combine his recently invented miniature regulator with a portable gas cylinder. This revolutionary device significantly reduced the size of diving equipment; previously, a sealed helmet with a constant-feed air supply was used – which was of course bulky and awkward – but now only a mouthpiece was needed, the air feed regulated by the diver’s inhalation. Cousteau’s freely-available CG45 ‘Aqualung’ turned diving from a dangerous necessity into an enjoyable hobby almost overnight.

Even deeper diving called for the invention of the next diving watch feature, the rotating bezel. Beating the Rolex Submariner to the post by just a few months, Blancpain’s 1953 Fifty Fathoms incorporated a rotating bezel with minute markers that could be used as a countdown timer for air and decompression. The simple, yet incredibly intuitive idea found its way onto Jacques Cousteau’s wrist for the 1956 film ‘Le Monde du Silence’.

As commercial diving became more lucrative, the depths dived and the time spent underwater increased. Saturation diving so named because the body becomes saturated with inert gases exposed divers to increased pressures for longer periods of time, which in turn required longer periods of slow decompression to prevent decompression sickness. Military research and commercial interest required a watch that could withstand pressures far higher than the current diving watches were capable of, and so the development race began to create the saturation diver’s watch of choice

The problems encountered by watch manufacturers were twofold – the first being the seals of the watch leaking under high pressure, and the second being the structural integrity of the components during decompression. As divers desaturated after a long dive, they found that the gases that had entered the watch under pressure could not find their way out again, and the result popped the crystals off.

Alongside commercial diving company COMEX, Rolex developed a special gas escape valve for the Submariner 5513 that allowed the saturated gases to be released during decompression. At the same time, a new, sturdier design known as the as the ‘Sea-Dweller’ was being tested at the US Navy SEALAB II project, which then also inherited the gas escape valve trialled by COMEX. The finished Rolex Sea-Dweller was launched in 1967 and was capable of reaching depths of up to 610 metres.

Meanwhile, Omega investigated a solution that employed brute force over Rolex precision with the Seamaster Plongeur Professionnel or ‘PloProf’, a vast slab of watch with a six-hundred metre water resistance. Unfortunately the Omega PloProf was released too late, three years after the introduction of the Sea-Dweller, by which point the diving companies insisted on their watches having a gas escape valve.

As the eighties came and went, diving watches became diving computers, and so the humble mechanical watch stepped down from its commercial top spot. That isn’t to say that the diving watch is now defunct – far from it. In fact the diving watch is more popular now than it ever has been before.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from]

Watch in Focus – Omega Seamaster

The Seamaster name covers a whole host of sporty, dressy, quirky and techy watches from over nearly three quarters of a century. Although many of these watches don’t look anything alike, they are all developments of the same thing — a water resistant watch.

It started in 1932, when Omega patented an innovative design for a diving watch that used a sliding case within a case. The theory was sound but the design was too complicated. It was taken back to the drawing board, and in 1947 — a decade and a half later —the first Omega Seamaster watches were launched. Rolex may have pipped Omega to the post for the first water resistant watch, but the Seamaster beat the Submariner to the shops by a clear six years.

The first Seamaster followed a simplistic design that was consistent with the rest of Omega’s range, and the slim and delicate case proved that water-resistance didn’t require the watch to be heavy and bulky. This dress style continued through to the 1960s, when the Seamaster had a dramatic makeover. The range split into two: one part dressy, and the other sporty.

Rolexs Submariner hadproven that chunky sports watches were indeed popular, and so the Seamaster De
Ville continued the original slim-cased, formal dress look, and the Seamaster 300 (300 referring to the depth rating in metres) took the fight to the Submariner. The 300s black dial had wide markers and the hands were chunky. The case too was of much more solid form than the previous Seamaster, and came with the addition of a rotating timing bezel. A second, cheaper model was released four years later, the Seamaster 120, and a chronograph model completed the range in 1970, the first watch to incorporate an internal rotating bezel.

In a battle with Rolex to create a watch with the highest depth rating, Omega developed the Seamaster Plongeur Professionnel (PloProf) 600. Where the Sea-Dweller used a helium escape valve to control internal pressure, Omega took the brute force approach by building a case strong enough to do without one. This move saw the Rolex win the COMEX contract.

Not to be deterred, Omega dabbled with quartz Seamasters during the seventies quartz revolution, before producing the Seamaster Professional 300 in 1993. In 2005, the Planet Ocean joined it. It took inspiration from the original sixties Seamaster 300, and an updated reissue of the PloProf joined it in 2010, this time water resistant to 1200 metres (and fitted with a helium escape valve).

The Seamaster has had a strange and wandering existence, but is all the more interesting for it; there are many models not mentioned here that never really caught on, that each have their own story and now make interesting and collectible pieces. One thing is certain though: you can’t go wrong with a Seamaster.


  • The strange creature often seen on the back of Omega Seamaster cases is a Hippocampus, a mythical Greek creature that is half horse, half fish. Poseidon, the Greek sea-god, used Hippocampi to draw his chariot through the ocean waves
  • Both Comex and Jacques-Yves Cousteau were involved in the development of the ‘Plongeur Professionnel,’ Omega’s entry into the deep sea diving arena
  • The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean is a modern interpretation of the 1957 Seamaster 300, Omega’s first sports diver

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from]

Watch In Focus – IWC Portuguese

The Portuguese have always been known for their sea fairing ability and expert knowledge of the ocean. In the late 1930s, two Portuguese businessmen — who frequently sailed around the world — requested a special kind of watch be made for them by IWC. Wrist watches of the time were small and not particularly accurate, so what the two men asked for was a marine chronometer-grade clock they could wear on their wrists.

Using the Calibre 74, a hunter pocket watch movement that satisfied the men’s accuracy requirements, IWC built a watch in 1939 called the Portuguese. The 42mm case required to fit the movement was enormous by the standards of the period, and it had a clear, bold dial with large applied numbers and a sub-dial at six o’clock for the seconds. The cream-coloured face was chosen to contrast against the numbers, giving the watch immediate clarity regardless of the conditions.

It wasn’t until 1967 that any big changes occurred in the Portuguese line up. The watch had become popular for its size and appearance, but its sailing heritage was all but forgotten. To rectify this, IWC released a more sport-orientated version to reinvigorate the original ethos of the model. Called the ‘Yacht Club’, it looked more like a Rolex Datejust than it did a Portuguese, but nonetheless it became very popular — one of the most popular IWC’s ever, in fact.

It was followed by the seventies Yacht Club II, a watch that — this time — had more in common with IWC’s own Ingenieur. The octagonal case and integrated bracelet could not have been any further removed from the original Portuguese, but this didn’t stop its popularity from soaring. Many Yacht Club IIs were sold in both automatic and quartz guises, riding the wave of a new era of luxury watches.

IWC Portuguese watches have not — Yacht Clubs excluded — changed much over the course of time, and the original charm and clarity that made them popular is still very much present. Complications such as chronographs, perpetual calendars and even tourbillons have been added to what is considered IWC’s flagship range, but the case shape and bold applied numerals remain. The hand wound IW5454 is the most faithful to the original with its seconds sub-dial at six o’clock, but the range has most definitely been improved with the addition of the chronograph and the seven day movement, whose twin sub-dials neatly balance out the dial.

To top the current range off, IWC recently released a new version of the Yacht Club, reviving the sportiness of the original once again. This time around, the Yacht Club is much more faithful to the Portuguese than was previously, with more focus on sporty design and rugged usability.

The Portuguese is a very elegant watch, particular so when viewed amongst the swathes of fussier watches that dominate the market. If you like your watches to be clean, clear and simple, there is little to touch an IWC Portuguese.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from]

Watch in Focus – Panerai Luminor

OfficinePanerai, started by Giovanni Panerai in 1860s Florence, was formed to create precision mechanical instruments specifically for diving. By the 1930s, under Giovanni’s grandson Guido Panerai, the company was producing a range that included compasses and depth gauges, all of which could be worn on the wrist. Panerai’s reputation forquality earned the company a contract with the Italian Navy to build water-resistant, highly legible watches for their military divers.

The Rolex-engined Radiomirs were the first evolution of the famous dive watch and featured the sandwich dial that gave off the distinctive bright glow. Instead of having applied numbers on the dial, which are often quite thin and therefore not as bright, the sandwich dial consisted of two layers.

The first was the black dial, visible through the crystal, with bold numbers and indices punched out of it. The second layer sat behind it and was covered with luminous paint, which gave a far superior glow because of its thickness. Originally being painted with super-radioactive radium (hence the ‘Radiomir’ nomenclature) also contributed to the legibility in low light.

When radium was outlawed, the luminescent substance was replaced with tritium, dubbed by Panerai as ‘Luminor’, and alongside developments in case design and technology, the Luminor watch was born. It featured the same sandwich dial, but a more robust case with thicker lugs, moving on from the soldered lugs and cushion cases that were mainly an evolution from pocket-watches.

Panerai also introduced applied numeral dials as well, but instead of the traditional method of painting the numerals straight onto the face, they were first carved out of the dial and filled in, providing thicker, brighter lume. The most important development, however, was the crown device. It served to protect the crown from knocks, and also to lock it down and seal it from water ingress, and has since become a trademark icon instantly recognisable as Panerai.

As the war ended, so, gradually, did Panerai, and it wasn’t until 1993 that the company started to make watches again. Producing very limited numbers of the Luminor and the new chronograph, the Mare Nostrum, they were collector’s pieces, and stayed away from the mainstream market. 1997 saw the acquisition of Panerai by the Vendôme group, who maintained the slow production rate and limited numbers, but increased the marketing effort tenfold.

The Panerai following built up slowly to its current cult-like status, the original, instantly recognisable design and big, bold cases a fresh breath of air from the standard form. Variations of the base models sold in limited runs kept the brand and its interest alive, including the addition of a seconds hand on the Radiomir and Luminor (making it the Luminor Marina) series.

The introduction of the curved ‘1950s’ retro-looking case for the Panerai Luminor in 2002 is reminiscent of the original 1950s Rolex-powered Marina Militare, and has become more widespread throughout the range.

2007 was turning point for Panerai when it introduced its own high-quality in-house movements with eight-day power reserves, followed by slightly cheaper three-day power reserve movements in 2009. This offered customers high-end, completely in-house pieces as well as the cheaper base models with modified Unitas movements powering them.

Some people say the Panerai attraction is short-lived, but an ever increasing populous of fans stand testament to the longevity of the appeal. They aren’t watches for everyone, particularly the 47mm models, but there is no doubt that they are finely made, desirable timepieces with genuine history behind them.


  • It wasn’t until actor Sylvester Stallone bought a Luminor in 1995 and wore it in his movie ‘Daylight’ that Panerai took off as a brand.
  • The most complicated Luminor is the L’Astronomo PAM000365, featuring time, date including month, sunrise/sunset indicator, equation of time, power reserve, star disk and tourbillon. It costs a whopping $220,000.
  • As you can see from the text on the crown guard (top image), Panerai hold the trademark for its shape. They also have a patent for its operation too.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from]

Watch In Focus – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore

The Royal Oak Offshore has become something of a core product for Audemars Piguet, and it is difficult to imagine the brand without it — but there was a point at which it didn’t exist at all.

The company, today one of the top watch manufacturers in the world, can trace its heritage back to 1875 with the collaboration of Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet. Manufacturing and regulating movements in small workshop in Le Brassus was the first stepping stone to becoming one of the world’s most prestigious brands, a feat that can be partly accredited to the continuous family involvement with the company since its inception.

As with all businesses that can celebrate long-term success, Audemars Piguet’s start was a slow and steady one. Despite seven years of trade, it wasn’t until 1882 that the company name was even registered as a trademark, and a further seven years before they opened their own branch and sold watches direct to the public.

Part of the continuing increase in popularity and accomplishment was down to commitment to quality control.

This reputation spread to other established brands such as Tiffany and Co, Cartier and Bulgari, who, after Audemars and Piguet had died in the early 20th century, commissioned the company to make movements; even whole watches to be rebranded and sold as their own.

Producing extravagant movements had become somewhat of a forte for Audemars Piguet, and certainly helped to establish the brand’s credibility, but it wasn’t to last.

After the Great Depression in the 1930s brought the world to its knees, the watchmaker struggled through the next few decades, and were on the edge of folding. Enlisting the help of burgeoning watch designer Gerald Genta, Audemars Piguet released a watch that would amaze and bemuse the public in equal measure in 1972, as a final bid for recovery. That watch was the Royal Oak. Named after a 19th Century battleship and wearing strange features such as an octagonal bezel with visible octagonal bolt heads, and an angular case with a flat, integrated bracelet, the Royal Oak very nearly sounded the death knell for them.

Since the stainless-steel sports watch cost considerably more than even Audemars Piguet’s own top of the range gold watch, there was a lot of initial head-scratching, but slowly the idea of super-luxury sports watch took hold. The Royal Oak was instantly recognisable and distinguished the wearer as someone who was wealthy enough to afford the premium. From there, its popularity only grew.

In 1993, Emmanuel Gueit designed the Royal Oak Offshore, a beefier, modernised face-lift of the classic Royal Oak. This sporty model gave the company a chance to flourish with more extravagant colours, shapes and materials, from the carbon cased Alinghi Team, to the other-worldly Survivor. A strong link with motorsport — Formula 1 in particular — was formed, with famous drivers like Rubens Barrichello and Jarno Trulli coming on board.

Love them or hate them, the Offshore is here to stay, and coupled with its more restrained sibling the Royal Oak, suits practically every taste.

The forged carbon case (pictured right) is made by compressing seven micron thick carbon fibre strands at a whopping 300kg per square centimetre of pressure.

– The Royal Oak was a tree in which King Charles II of England hid from the Roundheads in during the 1651 Battle of Worcester. It then went on to become the name of eight British Royal Navy warships

-The Royal Oak Offshore movement was originally developed by Jaeger-LeCoultre and has evolved to become in-house movement.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from]

Watch In Focus – Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor

When Jacques Cousteau first invented the aqualung in 1942, it revolutionised diving. Bulky suits that had to be completely sealed were no longer necessary, continuous air feeds were a thing of the past and the Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) was born.

This revolution meant diving was no longer expensive, giving would-be divers a chance to fulfil their dreams. Diving as a hobby became extremely popular, and so the need for dive proof watches boomed. Although water-resistant watches were available, none could stand up to the increasing water pressure a diver would experience the deeper they went.

All the major manufacturers got on board the dive watch train, spending huge amounts of money developing cases that would cope with a diver’s requirements. As well as water resistance, divers needed timing bezels and good luminosity, and the cases needed to be able to resist the corrosive properties of salt water. For Jaeger-LeCoultre, their first step was not to develop their own case, but to invest in a company run by a little-known man called Ervin Piquerez.

Ervin Piquerez SA (EPSA) was developing a patented case that, rather than resisting the water pressure, used it to compress the case back and crowns, making the seals tighter and water-resistant to a greater depth. EPSA provided cases for many manufacturers, including IWC, Longines, Hamilton, Blancpain and of course, Jaeger-LeCoultre, until they went bankrupt in the mid-70s.

The compressor case was very distinctive—it usually featured two crowns, one of which operated the internal bezel. Because of the compressor technology, screw-down crowns were not necessary, so the winding and operation of the internal bezel were still possible when submerged.

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s 1959 E857 Memovox Deep Sea was the company’s first venture into diving watches and used the EPSA super-compressor case.

The E859 Polaris Memovox Diver followed the Deep Sea in 1963, after limited runs of diving watches with the names, Shark, Dolphin and Barracuda, and incorporated a triple-backed case to stop the alarm being muffled by the diver’s suit. A third crown at the traditional three o’clock was added for the alarm functionality.

Fast-forward to 2002 and, due to improvements in material technology, the compressor case was no longer required to provide credible water resistance. Jaeger-LeCoultre, however, decided to continue the compressor technology with their crowns. Because screw-down crowns are fiddly and the seals perish with time, a different method was engineered to allow both superior sealing and easy use. The trademark compressor crown features a twist-to-lock switch that has become synonymous with Jaeger-LeCoultre.

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor range expanded to include sports and diving watches, some with impressive complications. The Diving Pro Geographic not only featured a second time zone indicator and quick selection for twenty-four time zones, but also a mechanical depth gauge. Following the success of the diving collection, a recent collaboration with the US Navy Seals has produced some adjustments to the range to meet the force’s demanding requirements.

Jaeger-LeCoultre diving watches are unique and sturdy pieces of design, and are a perfect match for someone looking for a more left field choice for their collection, particularly if they want a watch suitable for diving.


  • On June the 30th, 2005, Patrick Musimu dived to a depth of 209.6 metres without oxygen wearing his Master Compressor Diving.
  • At the Master Compressor Diving’s maximum rated depth of 1000 metres, it will be experiencing 890kg of pressure from the water above it.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from]

Watch In Focus – Breitling Emergency

From the very beginnings of the brand, there has always been a strong tie between Breitling and the aviation industry. Renowned for introducing revolutionary new ideas to assist aviators in their duties, Breitling has repeatedly justified its reputation for being the pilot’s choice.

The first innovation that Breitling added as a feature to one of their watches was the addition of the bezel calculator on the Chronomat in the early 1940s, and again on the Navitimer in the 1950s. The Navitimer became the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) recommended watch and is still a big seller today.

Another development exclusively for pilots was the co-pilot bracelet. Fitted as an optional extra to any of the professional range, it included an additional digital display that can show local time, UTC (Coordinated Universal Time), take-off time and landing time. It serves as a backup to the main watch and offers easy management of flight times.

Super-quartz was another revolutionary advancement that Breitling took on board.

The ability to display analogue time and also incorporate a digital display with features such as count-down timers and alternate time zones, as well as retaining an accuracy of around ten seconds per year is a perfect combination for pilots on active duty.

The most recent addition to the impressive collection of pilot’s tools can be found on board the Breitling Emergency.

As the name implies, this watch is specifically designed to provide pilots with a rescue aid in emergency situation, using a 121.5 Mhz transmitter to send a distress signal to the search and rescue services and guide them to the location of the watch. Coupled with the 121.5 Mhz emergency radio transmissions and emergency locator transmitters found on board most aircraft, this watch provides an additional and welcome backup for pilots who find themselves in an emergency situation.

The transmitter beacon is powerful enough to transmit a signal ninety miles for forty-eight hours, and had successfully saved several pilots since its release in 1995. Because of its professional nature, the Emergency is only supplied to civilians if they sign an agreement with Breitling to only deploy the beacon in an emergency. Breitling will, given the use was genuine, replace the transmitter free of charge, but improper use will result in a hefty fine.

Since 2009, the 121.5 MHz signal is no longer received by any satellite system, so Breitling updated the Emergency to include the digital distress frequency of 406.040 MHz. The new Emergency also includes a charger to make sure the beacon remains at full operational capacity.

Breitling’s dedication to the aviation industry is more than just a marketing exercise, it is a genuine partnership, and one any owner of a professional Breitling can feel a part of.


  • The 121.5 Mhz signal, as of 2009, is no longer received by any satellite, however it can still be used as a location becon in conjunction with a standard distress signal.
  • In 1995, the fifteen-man crew of the Mata-Rangi raft were saved by the Emergency’s transmitter, which can be detected ninety miles away.
  • If the signal is used in an emergency, Breitling offer to cover the costs of rescue and repair to the watch, however improper use can result in a $10,000 fine.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from]

Watch in Focus – TAG Heuer Carrera

TAG Heuer has the kind of affinity with motor racing that is only earned via a long and dedicated involvement at the forefront of the sport. During the 40s and 50s, Heuer was supplying timers that could be dashboard mounted in rally cars to time the stages, and it was there that the seed was sown.

Jack Heuer’s innovative and entrepreneurial mind landed a sponsorship deal with Formula 1 driver Jo Siffert, and Heuer became the first non-motorsport related brand painted on the side of the most advanced racing cars in the world. It was Jack’s personal deal with Jo to buy a Porsche from his dealership that launched a conversation about sponsorship, which in turn sparked the beginning of a multi-billion advertising industry.

In 1950, just as the last section of the Pan-American Highway (that originally connected the USA to Argentina) was completed, a great race was held along its entire length. Dubbed ‘Carrera Panamericana’ (carrera being Spanish for race), it was held annually between 1950 and 1955 and had some of the most grueling terrain of any rally stage ever. As such, it was considered to be one of the most dangerous races of any type in the world.

This inspired Jack Heuer to develop a chronograph unlike any that had been before it. He wanted it to have a unique and instantly recognisable look, as well as being very easy to read. Thus, the Carrera was born, released in 1963. One of the most distinctive features of the watch was the repositioning of the tachymeter from the outer edge of the dial to the rehaut, the tapered spacer between the dial and the crystal. This cleared the dial itself up considerably, making it cleaner and easier to read.

Various iterations of Heuer Carrera watches were produced between the launch and the early 1980s, when the quartz revolution crippled many traditional watch brands. Jack left Heuer before the takeover by TAG (Techniques d’Avant Garde), part-owner of McLaren and supplier of Formula 1 engines. TAG embraced the brand and gave it direction through its low years, using its solid financial footings to market the brand successfully enough to bring it back to the forefront, ready for a buyout by LVMH.

The TAG Heuer Carrera continued with many new iterations such as the Grand Carrera, a coming-together of new and the old, immediately recognisable as Heuer but with the forward thinking design of TAG. TAG Heuer also acknowledge its heritage with re-editions of the vintage Carrera, plus the introduction of concept watches that pushed the boundaries both with design and function.

Such watches as the Calibre 36, penned by the designer of the Ferrari Enzo, and the Mikrograph Flying 1000, which can measure 1/1000th of a second, both demonstrate that TAG Heuer is a brand that is looking forward rather than dwelling on the past.


  • Carrera is Spanish for speed, and was used for the 1950’s races along the Pan-American Highway after which the watch was named.
  • Jack Heuer, the owner of Heuer during the 60’s and 70’s and great-grandson of founder Edouard Heuer, designed the Carrera himself in 1963.
  • The Carrera Calibre 36, released in 2009, was designed by Ken Okuyama, the genius behind the striking shape of the Ferrari Enzo.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from]