2. Breitling Emergency II
Although the Breitling Aerospace was the one that got me interested in these digital watches, the Emergency has one of the coolest features on any watch watch ever. Introduced in 1995, it was the first watch with a transmitter that used an air distress frequency. The Breitling Emergency II takes it even further, using satellites to notify search-and-rescue teams about your whereabouts. It has an easy-to-use system: just turn the crown that reads “Antenna” and two wires will come out as the watch’s signal is activated. An indicator is located in an hour marker at 12 o’clock that will start to blink. Now, you can sit back and relax while choppers begin searching for you.
3. Omega Speedmaster Z-33
I already mentioned the Omega Speedmaster Pro X-33 in the introduction, but my pick would actually be the newer (2012) Speedmaster Z-33. In 2011, I was told by Omega that a new model would be launched that would have the look of its famous 1960s/1970s Flightmaster watch, but with digital readouts. In 2012, Omega presented the Z-33 (nicknamed “Spacemaster”). At first I thought it was the successor of the X-33 in a different case, but this was an incorrect assumption. The Z-33 is developed for pilots, where the X-33 was developed for NASA astronauts. In terms of functionality, this means that it has a number of features specially designed for aircraft pilots. One of the functions is a flight logbook to record 10 flights. Also, the watch has a UTC plus two time zones, either in 12-hours or 24-hours; a loud alarm; a chronograph; and a countdown timer. We featured this watch on my blog, Fratellowatches.com, here.
4. Tissot T-Touch Expert
In 1999, Tissot introduced the first T-Touch model. That first T-Touch watch had six functions that could be activated by touching the crystal. Tissot further developed this technology and now offers a range of T-Touch models with different functions and appliances. The T-Touch Expert model has 15 different functions, accessible by touching the tactile sapphire crystal. With a 43.6-mm diameter, it is certainly not for everyone — or perhaps just not for every occasion — but it is certainly useful for outdoor activities. You need to be able to access the watch quickly and without too much hassle, so the size seems appropriate. The T-Touch Expert has an impressive lineup of functions, including compass, altitude difference meter, altimeter, countdown timer, and, of course, chronograph.
5. Any Smartwatch
Whether it is a Sony, Apple, Samsung, Pebble or Google watch – time will tell – my fifth choice would be a smartwatch. As soon as these watches are widely available on the market so I can choose between different brands and models, I will certainly try one (mostly out of curiosity). Although you will still need your smartphone or a WiFi signal to be connected so you can fully use the capabilities of a smartwatch, I do see uses for some of these watches — whether it is simply telling time, notifying you about new e-mails, Tweets, and Facebook messages, or displaying the weather forecast. I am still a bit skeptical, though, since it seems that all these functions are available on my iPhone, which has a larger screen and is something I can grab out of my pocket almost as fast as I could roll up my sleeve to actively ‘operate’ a Smartwatch. In any case, I would love to see cooperation between Swatch (or another watch brand) and a technology brand like Samsung, Apple, Sony or fill-in-the-blank, which could make these smartwatches look less like something from “Star Trek” and more like something that appeals to us watch freaks.