Skip to main content

Mühle’s glowing S.A.R. Rescue Timer keeps time for search and rescue teams

Not all technically interesting watches have a touchscreen or smart features. This is the Mühle S.A.R. Rescue Timer, and it caught our eye at Baselworld 2018 because it was displayed in a blacked-out cabinet. How did we see it? The box used special lighting to simulate darkness and show off the incredible luminescent hands and numbers on the watch. We actually mistook it for an LCD screen at first, since it was so bright. Why is it like this? It’s because the watch is explicitly made for the German Maritime Search and Rescue Services, brave people saving lives in threatening conditions.

Mühle has only been making watches since 1996, but the brand has been in the precision instrument business since 1869, supplying everything from maritime measurement devices to clocks and instruments for cars. In 2002, it was charged with producing watches for the Search and Rescue Service, resulting in the first 56 S.A.R. Rescue Timers. The company got the design exactly right immediately and has only made minor changes over the resulting years, meaning the watch looks almost identical today as it did then.

Functional design

Working watches like the S.A.R Rescue Timer aren’t styled based on looks alone — the shape and design is functional. For example, the rescue team told the engineers the watch couldn’t have sharp edges, in case it caused injury to people being pulled from the sea. Check out the rounded and curved case, which even extends down the metal and rubber strap too. Beyond the shape, the watch also needs to continue to work in the harshest conditions.

We actually mistook it for an LCD screen at first, it was so bright.

The stainless steel body has a rubber bezel to protect it, it’s water resistant to 100ATM, and there’s sapphire crystal over the face. It’s not a thin sliver of sapphire either — it is 4mm thick on the S.A.R. Rescue Minus Timer. The crown is located at 4 o’clock on the body, which not only stops it digging into the hands of the wearer, but also lessens the likelihood of it scratching anyone else. Even the strap has been engineered to break away without losing any parts.

Then there is the luminous coating applied to the hands and hour markers. It’s a commonly-used coating called Super Luminova, but it’s applied to a far larger area than on most other watches. It’s hand painted over white hands and markers to increase visibility further. The brightness is important because on boats, lights are often turned out to help the team spot survivors in the water more easily. Seeing the time when everything around them is black is incredibly important, and the watch will illuminate for around 5 hours after 8 to 10 hours charging.

Accurate time

Seeing the time would be pointless if it was the wrong time. Mühle uses its own specially-designed component it calls the, “woodpecker neck fine regulator,” (named because if you look at the picture, it looks like a woodpecker’s head and beak) which is part of the automatic movement and keeps accurate time even after a severe shock — the rescue team describe hitting the watch against railings, fire extinguishers, and other solid parts of the boat. This is evidence alone of the rough treatment these watches endure.

Mühle services the watches regularly, repairing any damage sustained, which also gives it the chance to refine the design and components if needed. So far, it hasn’t, which is impressive given the amount of time the watch has been in service. There’s something really fascinating about a watch designed and engineered for a specific purpose, with super tough components squeezed into a compact body, and has needed few changes even after more than 15 years in action.

High price

Members of the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service continue to wear the watch today; but it’s not exclusive, meaning you can buy one too. If you choose the model with a rubber strap, it’s 1,790 euros ($2,215), or with the metal band, it’s 1,890 euros ($2,339). Splash out, and you can be pretty sure you won’t get even slightly close to its limits, and that’s both desirable and reassuring.

Andy Boxall
Senior Mobile Writer
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 vs. Fitbit Sense
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 smartwatch, worn on a person's wrist.

The Galaxy Watch 4 is Samsung's take on a modern, hi-tech wearable that doesn't imitate an old-school analog wristwatch. It eschews the classic design of its predecessors for a sleeker, more streamlined look, while also providing some excellent hardware and features. These include a Super AMOLED touchscreen, 16GB of internal storage, generous battery life, and some great health-tracking software.

It's certainly one of the best smartwatches out there, but in a market saturated by Apple Watches and various Android equivalents, it certainly isn't without competitors. One of these is the Fitbit Sense, which in 2020 emerged to offer a premium version of the core Fitbit experience, replete with an ECG sensor, a choice of virtual assistants, and a wealth of fitness features.

Read more
This $4,000 titanium beauty is the ultimate square G-Shock
The G-Shock MRG-B5000B.

Do you want the very best Casio offers in manufacturing, design, and technology from your new G-Shock, all wrapped up in that highly recognizable square case? In other words, the ultimate version of a truly classic G-Shock watch? If so, the new MRG-B5000B is exactly the model you will want, provided cost is no object. We’ve been wearing it.
What makes MR-G so special?
Although Casio is best known for tough watches that won’t break the bank, Casio also has decades of watchmaking experience, and it showcases its talents most effectively in its highly exclusive MR-G family of watches. These models, its most luxurious, are assembled by hand on Casio’s Premium Production Line located in the Yamagata factory in Japan, where only the company’s most experienced, specially certified technicians work on the top MT-G and MR-G models.

The square G-Shock is one of the most popular models, having been around since the G-Shock brand first started in the early 1980s, and bringing it to the luxury MR-G range is going to see a lot of people reaching for their wallets. What makes it so special? It’s the first time the classic, beloved square G-Shock has been given the MR-G treatment, with most other MR-G models over the past few years featuring an analog dial. There's a huge section of an already large fan base waiting for this.

Read more
Fitbit recalls Ionic smartwatch after several burn reports
best walmart deals on apple watch garmin and fitbit ionic smartwatch adidas edition ice gray silver

Fitbit Ionic smartwatch users need to stop using their devices right now. The company has recalled its Ionic wearable after over 150 reports of the watch’s lithium-ion battery overheating, and 78 reports of burn injuries to the users. It will offer a refund of $299 to the Fitbit Ionic smartwatch users who return the device.

Fitbit has received at least 115 reports in the United States and over 50 reports internationally about the Ionic smartwatch's battery overheating. It is recalling the device as there are two reports of third-degree burns and four reports of second-degree burns out of the 78 total burn injuries report.

Read more