There are people who carry themselves with a confidence that suggests that they are ready for anything. A calm and cool exterior, combined with a similarly imbued tone of voice when they speak to you, imparts a gravitational force that pulls you into their orbit, because they are the type of people that you would somehow want to stick to, despite not knowing why.

Perhaps it is because they perform dangerous feats that have the power to induce an emotional rush, yet perform them in such a methodical and calculating way that if an emergency were to happen, they would calmly assess the situation, make a decision, and act. There would be no fuss or hesitation; the cat would be saved from the tree, the boy calmly plucked from the path of an oncoming car.

This is not normal behavior, at least not for the typical person. Yet consider this: if you had a job where you had a high chance of not making it home forever, then you start to approach most things in a very different way. When you are trained to deal with the worst thing that can ever happen to you (death) as part of your daily routine, you will undoubtedly think, act and behave very differently.

Balloonist Brian Jones with his Breitling Emergency.

Balloonist Brian Jones with his Breitling Emergency.

Brian Jones, who I had the pleasure of meeting recently at the “Masters of Time” exhibition by DFS at “The Venetian” in Macau is certainly someone who belongs in this category.

As an invited speaker to the event and a “Master” of aviation, he was there to speak about the role of watches and time-keeping in the world of aviation. Hearing him speak on stage and later on one to one, I could not help thinking that if a fire were to occur in the building, this was the man who I could trust to lead not just me, but everyone else in the room to safety.

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After-all, this is a man who has flown almost everything: Jet Fighters, Helicopters, Jumbo Jets, and Balloons, and is probably accustomed to more types of dangers than us mere mortals can fathom.

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His main claim to fame: In 1999, he along with Swiss pilot, Bertrand Piccard, circumnavigated the globe in the balloon, “Breitling Orbiter 3”, starting from Chateau d’oex in Switzerland and landing in Egypt, finally completing the journey in 19 days, 21 hours and 47 minutes.

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As an experienced balloonist even before this world record feat, Brian remains one of the few ballooning experts around the world who not only trains and certifies balloon pilots but leads investigations when a major balloon accident occurs.

As he opines when speaking about his passion for ballooning: “Its a different pace and one almost has to give up control sometimes. Its very different from flying a plane when you have to know where you’re going. And I also enjoy the pleasure of being able to talk to people”as I fly over. I can have conversations with them because sound travels very well from a high place.”

Meeting a pilot of the Brian’s calibre then begs the question “What watch does he wear?”

It’s often been said that most people who wear pilots watches are not real pilots, mostly indulging in a fantasy where the promise of flying equals freedom. Disregarding their choices then, what does a real pilot choose?

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Sitting on his wrist was what I found: the Breitling Emergency, a titanium watch with an emergency beacon running on 121.5 Mhz, a watch that was presented to Brian by Breitling to accompany him on his epic journey.

Now this is the first version of the Emergency and not the latest one (The Emergency 2) that was introduced in Basel in 2013.

As Brian told me, “Breitling has always  been a brand that many pilots aspire to own.” A watch like the Emergency, (and the latest Emergency 2) then really emphasizes how the brand is committed to producing watches that a pilot really needs, and not, as some might argue, a fashion item to indulge in a fantasy.

Hear from Brian himself as he explains why his Breitling Emergency is the watch he wears when he’s flying, and how it not only tells the time, but can, in a real emergency, be the one difference between life and death.

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