OceanicTime Archives


MÜHLE GLASHÜTTE S.A.R. Flieger-Chronograph

Developed in collaboration with the rescue pilots of the German Navy, who were looking for a robust chronograph with an easy-to-read display that included a function for calculating flight speed. And thanks to the finest regulation and the extreme reliability of its specially designed chronograph functions, which include a highlighted 10-second scale, the S.A.R. Flieger-Chronograph easily meets with requirements of the German Navy rescue pilots.

It was released this March at Baselworld 2010 and was for me one of the few watches that really stuck out; owing much to its unique trigger-like chrongraph start-pusher that has been so nicely complimented with a chunky angular case and bezel. But not just a cool looking design, there's a lot of cool stuff going on under the hood of the Flieger-Chronograph, too such as it's MU 9408, automatic movement with Mühle Glashütte’s patented woodpecker neck regulation.

Rough seas and bad weather conditions are not only very familiar to the sea rescue personnel from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service (Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffbrüchiger), but also to the rescue pilots from the German Navy. Both work together regularly to rescue people in distress at sea. It was therefore only natural for Nautische Instrumente Mühle-Glashütte to complement the field-tested S.A.R. Rescue-Timer with a watch for the SAR pilots.

During their rescue operations, the Navy rescue pilots are dependent on very robust equipment. With a starting weight of 9.3 tonnes and 3,000 PS engine power the Sea King MK 41, the German Navy’s rescue helicopter, can operate even in the most adverse weather conditions. The S.A.R. Flieger-Chronograph (S.A.R. Pilot Chronograph) is equally unshakeable; thanks to a solid stainless steel case 44 millimetres in diameter and 2.5 millimetre thick sapphire crystal.

The large case diameter also makes the watch display easier to read. Pilots in particular must be able to read the time, or the stop time, reliably and at a glance. For easy differentiation between these two time functions, the chronograph pushers, the Stop second hand and the minute and hour hands are marked in orange. This typical SAR signal colour is also used to highlight the 10-second scale between 12 and 2 o’clock.

The clearly marked 10-second scale was particularly important to the crew members of the rescue helicopters because it allows time measurements for calculating the flight speed to be taken and the watch can be used as an independent back-up system to support the dashboard instruments.

This becomes relevant for example when the rescue pilots have to arrive at the rescue scene at a particular time, or the flying time has to be re-estimated for tactical operational reasons. In such cases they can calculate their flight speed with the help of the “1 in 60 rule” and, if necessary, adapt. To extrapolate the flight speed, the chronograph with its easy-to-grip start pusher at 8 o’clock is started.

As soon as the stop second hand has reached the end of the orange coloured scale, the distance covered in the time is put in relation to it: for example 0.2 NM in 10 seconds (1 nautical mile = 1.852 km). The distance is then extrapolated for a flying time of one minute (= 1.2 NM), giving a speed of 72 knots (1 knot = 1NM/h = 1.853 km/h). This extremely simple process allows very quick calculation of the speed.

The chronograph’s MU 9408 mechanism guarantees the reliability and precision required for these measurements. In addition to the solid three-quarter plate it has the patented woodpecker neck regulation from Mühle. This ensures the uniform rate of the mechanism (basis ETA 7750) even under the hardest of conditions. For even when exposed to strong shocks it prevents the index hand between the regulating screw and the counter-pressure spring from jumping up, which would change the watch’s regulation.

“Thanks to the fine regulation we developed in 2003, our mechanisms have a real technical advantage over watches with traditional regulation systems” emphasizes Thilo Mühle, Managing Director of Mühle-Glashütte GmbH. “And it is precisely in our S.A.R. models which have to withstand such harsh conditions that this advantage is most clearly obvious.“

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