A wise man once said that people who ignore history are destined to repeat the same mistakes. In the past few years, we have seen a surge in the popularity of smart watches on discount, mainly from Apple. It led to the harbinger of doom being imposed on the mechanical watchmaking industry. During the most severe period of the quartz crisis in the 1970s, anyone around would be familiar with this situation.
At the time, most Swiss luxury homes believed that the new technology was just a fad, and continued to do so even if the receivers were moved in, sealed the windows with wooden boards and sold their machines to the highest bidders. Those who decide to step into this new world of crystals and electrons usually perform better, although doing so is usually a bit reluctant.
Fast forward to modern times, and traditional luxury watch makers seem to have remembered the lessons of the time and invested more and more assets to embrace smart watch technology. More importantly, some people upgrade the releases of companies such as Samsung, Huawei, and Apple by investing their watches in perhaps their most important asset—luxury. Today we take a look at the Breitling smart watch series.
Breitling Exospace B55 Connected
In the past few decades, Breitling’s fate has been unstable, but since it was acquired by CVC Capital Partners, Europe’s largest private equity firm in 2017, the company has continued to grow. With Georges Kern as CEO, manufacturing has changed.
However, although the arrival of Kern heralds a return to a simpler and more retro-inspired aesthetic, they are also one of the most pioneering groups in the wearable technology field. The prototype B55 actually made its debut at Baselworld 2015, and a production model was released to the public later that year. This is the brainchild of Jean-Paul Girardin, who managed to spare time to become a professional helicopter pilot during his tenure as vice president of Breitling.
As an aviation-related brand, this watch is specially designed as part of the professional series-the professional series is a must-have equipment for the world’s flying elites. Exospace, along with Breitling’s other game changer, Emergency, is located in this range, with a built-in locator beacon. However, although the two share digital and analog readings (as do the rest of the “professional instrument” series), Exospace is very independent.
Despite being stylish (in Breitling’s typical hyper-masculine way), the feature list of Exospace B55 marks it as a creation very aimed at military pilots, not just fans of military watches. The dial is very similar to the 2014 Cockpit B50, but with a contrasting blue earpiece and digital numbers to make it more legible. The high-intensity LCD backlight can be manually operated by pushing the crown, or, like the latest iPhone, can be activated by the built-in inclinometer. When the watch is tilted to 35 degrees (that is, the angle at which you turn your wrist to check the time), the backlight activates to provide maximum readability, and turns off again when not in use to eliminate interference.
The digital display itself is compatible with night vision goggles to prevent excessive lighting in the dark, which may endanger the pilot’s vision while wearing the NVG. It has an advanced flight timer, which can not only track take-off, air and landing time, but also track the “blocking time” in the helicopter world. The blocking time is the period from the first time the rotors start to move to when they finally stop. This is essential to explain the overall wear and tear of the machine, but it can easily be forgotten when the pressure in the cockpit rises, especially for military cockpits.
In addition, there are two time zone functions, one is digital display and the other is pointer, which can be switched by just pressing a button. There are various countdowns and countdowns, perpetual calendar, chronograph with flyback, electronic speedometer and up to seven daily alarms. All in all, the Exospace B55 is a great watch in a 46mm x 15mm titanium package.
Interestingly, Breitling avoided using the term “smart watch” for Exospace, instead choosing to describe it as “connected.” For those who want to know the difference, Smartwatch means that the watch is an extension of your phone, while Connected uses your phone application as an extension of the watch. This means that the B55 app (available on Android and IOS) can activate many functions faster and easier than the watch itself.
The synchronization between the two is handled through BLE or Bluetooth Low Energy. In addition to handling data transmission and all remote settings, it also provides perfect accuracy for the watch. The timing of your phone is controlled by satellites via atomic time signals, as is the Exospace B55 connected to it.
Due to the connection, the Exospace B55 is able to receive notifications, which are displayed on the dual digital readout on the dial. A very smart function allows you to stop the main hands at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock to move them away from the screen, and double-tap the crown to restore them to normal. If you don’t want to connect to your phone for any reason, you can control all functions by manipulating the crown and two buttons. http://www.chrono4usale.co
Part of the reason for Breitling’s recovery in the market is that they are completely self-sufficient, and Exospace B55 is no exception. The watch and movement are entirely manufactured in-house, and the mobile app is specially tailored for Swiss brands.
This movement (thermally compensated Calibre B55) joins Breitling’s SuperQuartz movement series. According to reports, its accuracy is even 10 times higher than that of a standard quartz movement, exceeding the COSC requirement of +/- 0.07 seconds per day.
The battery life of the Exospace B55 is equally impressive (especially for iPhone users like me). The customized lithium-ion battery is charged through a beautiful magnetic connector on the left side of the case, and it is reported that a single charge can provide up to two months of electricity. In contrast, I only answered the call for 10 minutes, and now I am desperately looking for my charger!
On the wrist, although this is certainly not a formal watch, it is actually a bit like a monster, but it is surprisingly comfortable. The combination of short curved lugs and titanium case means that it is both lightweight and very suitable for the wrist. Thanks to the familiar Breitling rider label, moving the unidirectional bezel becomes a breeze, and the knurling on the crown makes it equally easy to turn, even when wearing gloves.
There is also the B55 Exospace Yachting, which is stuffed with regatta timers on top of everything else, and has a little color on its chapter ring and carbon fiber dial. It adds a very unique element to the pure black of the rest of the series. All in all, Breitling’s first foray into the field of connected timepieces is undoubtedly smooth sailing. A remarkable achievement that deserves a place on the wrist of any demanding pilot.