By Tamera Adams

A simple turn of the knob on Steve Fossett's Breitling Emergency wristwatch might have saved his life. So why would the experienced 63-year-old adventurer, the first man to complete a non-stop flight around the world in a hot air balloon, leave home without it on a flight over the Nevada desert?

Authorities and investigators posed this question, and many more, in a recent article that reveals their suspicions about Fossett's mysterious accident—which was ruled fatal after a month-long search produced no remains of the aircraft or its pilot.

The Breitling Emergency's built-in microtransmitter broadcasts on the 121.5 MHz aircraft emergency frequency once the protective cap is unscrewed and the antenna is extended.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist or a chronograph enthusiast, but I wouldn't take a commercial flight—let alone pilot a plane—without the Breitling Emergency (assuming I owned one).

The timepiece wasn't the only life-saving equipment Fossett left behind. Lieutenant Colonel Cynthia Ryan of the U.S. Civil Air Patrol said the multi-millionaire did not take a parachute either.

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