September8 , 2023

    Altimeters in Watches: The Pinnacle of Precision


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    If you’re a thrill-seeker or an adventure junkie, chances are you’re no stranger to the utility and convenience of having an altimeter in your wristwatch. But what exactly is an altimeter and how does it work?

    What is Altimeters?

    Breva genie 01 image
    Breva Genie 01 with an (mechanical) altimeter and barometer

    An altimeter is a device that measures altitude – that is, the distance of an object (in this case, you) above a fixed level (usually sea level). In watches, altimeters typically use atmospheric pressure to determine altitude, as the pressure decreases with increasing altitude. This is based on the principle that as the altitude increases, the air becomes thinner and the atmospheric pressure decreases.

    How altimeter works in watch?

    But how does this work in practice? Well, when you’re at sea level, the atmospheric pressure is at its highest, and as you climb higher, the pressure drops. An altimeter in a watch uses this change in pressure to calculate your current altitude. It does this by measuring the current atmospheric pressure and comparing it to the pressure at sea level, which is known as the “reference pressure.” The altimeter then uses this reference pressure to determine your current altitude, which is displayed on the watch’s display.

    Courtesy of

    This is step-by-step explanation how altimeters work :

    1. Altimeters measure the altitude (height above sea level or above land/water) of an object such as an airplane.
    2. There are two main types of altimeters: pressure altimeters and radio altimeters.
    3. Pressure altimeters measure altitude by approximating atmospheric pressure.
    4. A pressure altimeter has a case that is connected to the outside of the aircraft and contains aneroid capsules (corrugated metallic bellows that expand or contract based on changes in air pressure).
    5. As the aircraft climbs or descends, the aneroid capsules expand or contract, which is converted into the movement of pointers on a dial that displays the altitude in units of metres or feet.
    6. The barometric scale dial records the air pressure in millibars.
    7. The pressure altimeter must be adjusted with a barosetting knob to compensate for small variations in local weather conditions.
    8. Radio altimeters measure the distance of an aircraft above the ground by using a pulse of radio energy that travels from the aircraft to the ground and back.
    9. The measured altitude is displayed on a video screen and is used in automatic navigation and blind-landing systems.

    But wait, there’s more! Not only can altimeters in watches tell you your current altitude, but they can also keep track of your vertical speed and altitude gain or loss over time. This is incredibly useful for activities such as hiking, climbing, or even skydiving, as it allows you to accurately track and monitor your progress. 

    Breva genie 02 titanium and black titanium
    Breva genie 02 Titanium and Black Titanium (front)

    For example, if you’re hiking up a mountain, an altimeter in your watch can tell you how much altitude you’ve gained over the course of your hike, as well as your current altitude. This can be useful for planning your route and ensuring that you don’t exceed your physical limits.

    But let’s not forget the aesthetics! In addition to their functional utility, altimeters in watches can also add a touch of style and sophistication to your timepiece. 

    Many high-end watch brands offer altimeter-equipped models that feature sleek designs and sophisticated displays, making them the perfect accessory for the fashion-conscious adventurer. These watches often feature high-quality materials, such as stainless steel or titanium, and are designed to withstand the rigors of outdoor activities.


    So, whether you’re a mountain climber, a skydiver, or just someone who appreciates the finer things in life, an altimeter-equipped watch is a must-have for any adventure seeker. With their impressive precision and stylish designs, altimeters in watches truly are the pinnacle of function and fashion.

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