Mühle-Glashütte Does The 20 S.A.R. Rescue-Timer In Gold

If you’re on a rescue boat in the middle of a freezing North Sea storm in February, you will not be worrying about your watch. With foam-topped waves of around 30 meters high breaking over your boat, remaining afloat and staying alive is a bit more pressing. If your mission is to be part of the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service’s (DGzRS) team of 800 volunteers, you’ll be even more concerned with making sure your crewmates and the people you’re rescuing do too. 

This is the environment that the Nautische Instrumente Mühle-Glashütte S.A.R Rescue Timer was designed to thrive in. Back in the early 2000s, Mühle-Glashütte began talking to the people who crewed and coxed the DGzRS’s rescue boats, asking them what they wanted from a watch. In February 2002, the firm delivered the first watches and they took to sea almost immediately. Winter is a busy time in the North Sea rescue business, after all.


Clearly, unless you make a habit of hanging out in hostile sea environments, you don’t need an S.A.R Rescue timer. But a watch that shrugs off waves the size of a building should be able to take on most things you’ll throw at it, even if the nearest thing to foam in your day is on your morning latte. There’s something reassuring about owning a watch that you know will take that sort of beating. 

Over those twenty years since 2002 (and with more than 10,000 watches sold), the S.A.R has proven itself on countless rescue missions so Mühle-Glashütte has decided to celebrate this outstanding achievement with a limited special edition in 18 carat gold.

This gold version of the S.A.R Rescue is a little more up-market than its stainless steel predecessors. Its middle section is made from a hefty 70 grams of 18-carat polished yellow gold. The dial comes in matt black, with white lumed markers and indices. The hands are – you guessed it – gold too (although plated – solid gold hands can be too hefty for a movement to turn efficiently). The gold on black contrast makes the dial a cinch to read, even at a quick glance.

The sapphire glass covering the dial is a distinctly chunky 4mm thick – the same as two dollar coins. Likewise, the bezel is stainless steel, but covered with black, shock-absorbing natural rubber. The idea is to protect both the watch from impacts and anyone you’re hauling out of the sea from getting bashed by a sharp case side. The other components of the 42mm case are designed to match. The screwed stainless steel caseback is coated in black PVD, as are the screw-down crown and the four screws on the strap bars. Even the bracelet clasp is stainless steel with a durable diamond-like carbon coating (DLC). Should make it a bit harder to scratch on your laptop at least. All in all, the watch is happy down to at least 100bar of water resistance. That’s perfectly practical, efficient and more than deep enough for the real world, but not shoutily excessive. None of that “Ooh, look at me, I can do 1000m depth” stuff.  Just what you’d expect from a no-nonsense bit of kit like this even if it is gold.

The movement is the reliable and ever-ready SW 200-1 automatic, but Mühle have added their own patented woodpecker neck regulator, their own rotor and some rather smart surface finishes. The seconds hack, you can correct the date at a snap and there’s 41 hours of power reserve to play with. The movement is adjusted to six positions too, so you’ll have no accuracy worries. In fact, Mühle-Glashütte says “The complex regulation, which is based on the chronometer standard, ensures the best precision. We regulate each watch so that it advances by 0 to a maximum of 8 seconds per day.”

The case the gold S.A.R comes in is worth a mention of its own. The new owner of an S.A.R. Rescue-Timer can look forward to opening a special edition wooden case modelled on a Nautische Instrumente Mühle-Glashütte marine chronometer box, complete with a viewing window. So you can see your S.A.R. Rescue-Timer not only when you wear it every day, but also when you keep it in its case.

Given that the S.A.R Rescue is celebrating 20 years of service, there will, appropriately, be just 20 watches made.

So should you buy one?

It’s an interesting choice, this one. Usually, a watch with this sort of hardcore, tool-y pedigree doesn’t work when it’s made in a precious metal (although several thousand gold Submariner owners will now be shouting at their screens). And yellow gold can be a bit, well, blingy. But the S.A.R, in our view, works a treat. The whole gold thing gets toned down well by the black rubber strap and bezel. And, as a brushed case, there’s not really any shine to the watch, which is thoroughly good news. It’s actually surprisingly restrained.   

The 13,500€ price tag is likely to be the sticking point for a lot of people.  But, if you can stomach that, you’ll be getting a watch with a proper story that’s beautifully – and very robustly – made. And if anyone tried to mug you for it, it would make a very effective knuckleduster indeed. Mühle-Glashütte.

Related Posts
Mark developed a passion for watches at a young age. At 9, he was gifted an Omega Time Computer manual from a local watch maker and he finagled Rolex brochures from a local dealer. Today, residing in the Oxfordshire village of Bampton, Mark brings his technical expertise and robust watch knowledge to worn&wound.
markchristie mark_mcarthur_christie