Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

In an interview with new Breitling watch brand ambassador Scott Kelly, the recently retired astronaut mentioned that, in his opinion, smarter watches like the Breitling Exospace B55 Connected (debuted here) would be the future of what professionals would wear in space. He was, of course, referring to the fact that traditional watches not only have an important part in the ongoing need for timing precision and accuracy, but the potential of the watches to interact with other systems is almost crucial to their advancement.

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

I review the Breilting Exospace B55 Connected today about a year after first getting an Apple Watch, and over a year after Breitling initially debuted its B55 smartwatch concept back in 2015. The smartwatch industry is growing and evolving, despite attacks by a now conservative tech industry that isn't seeing mainstream consumer adoption of these devices as fast as they, oddly, think people should be buying new television or phone technology. Let's face it, it is going to take a while before smartwatches hit their stride, and until then, there are going to be endless experiments on how a smartwatch should be presented, as well as continually improving technology. For me, that means now is an exciting time to live because I'm not reporting on an established market or even established products. Rather, I get to enjoy history in the making as we gradually enter the age of wearable technology that will inevitably include a host of smart, connected devices worn on the wrist.

The Breitling Exospace B55 Connected isn't meant to be an Apple Watch or Android Wear competitor - instead offering its own approach to how connected technology should interact with the tried and true notions of wearing a wrist watch. In fact, you don't need to use the watch as a smartwatch at all. You can just as easily enjoy the Breitling Exospace B55 Connected as as "disconnected" watch, and it will have most of the same features as other quartz-based Breitling timepieces. In one way, that makes this very different from a device that has a relatively short user life. Actually, let me begin the review by talking about battery life.

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

In the user manual, Breitling includes a chart for battery life that has a series of averages. They don't even call it "battery life" but rather "autonomy," or how long the watch can be away from a charger. The watch charges via an included USB-based chord which connects to the case via a small magnetic clip. It works well enough, but what I don't like about this system is that if you are on the go or charging it in a bag, the cable can easily disconnect from the case.

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

With the screen at full "intensity" (brightness) and with both the Bluetooth connection plus notifications (beeps plus vibrations), the internal lithium-ion battery lasts for an estimated 15 days between charges. That isn't too bad. Without notifications, you get a few more days of juice. Lower the "intensity" a bit, and you can get up to about 25 days of juice with the notifications plus connection on. You can get over 50 days of power, however, if you turn off the connections and have the intensity down when it comes to the backlight. I'd say that compared to other products in the industry, these numbers are not too bad.

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Breitling Exospace B55 Connected is easily the most expensive non-precious metal-cased smartwatch I've tested. It beats the $1,500 TAG Heuer Connected watch by quite a margin, with a price of about $9,000. A reasonable question is whether or not it is worth that money, but that discussion really starts with "well, it is Breitling before it is anything else." For a product that will inevitably have technology which is not state-of-the-art in a few years then, yes, that price is a lot. For a very functional Breitling tool watch that has no other comparable competitors in the high-end watch space, it makes more sense for the typical watch-buyer demographic.

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The smartwatch theory behind the Breitling Exospace B55 Connected is clever. Rather than have a watch that serves as a second screen for your phone, the idea here is to have a phone app that serves as a second screen for your watch. On top of that, you can opt to get basic notifications to your watch of incoming calls, messages, or other notifications. These incoming notifications are easy to notice, but relatively basic on purpose.

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Breitling Exospace B55 Connected apps connects to the watch via Bluetooth and allows you to do a range of things on your watch from the phone. This is important because, for the longest time, using the various features on these "Super Quartz" analog-digital Breitling watches was sort of a pain. With two small LCD screens, a crown, and two pushers, it is not exactly super easy to navigate the user interface or adjust all the settings. The app allows you to use the features of the watch so much more easily - and that includes doing this like setting the time, changing the calendar functions, setting the alarms, setting up the various chronographs and timers, etc. If anything, the app allows people to delve into the functions of the watch much more easily, but doesn't require you to go from watch to phone all the time.

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The idea is that after you set up the watch before a "mission," (this is a pilot-style watch, after all) you can have all the information you need on your wrist and, if needed, reference the app to make changes or get more information. Again, all the info is available on the watch dial itself, but the app just opens up new options to make things more simple.

Going back to Mr. Kelly, he sees this functionality as expanding greatly in the future, allowing the watch to access various plane/ship/craft systems and operate as both a controller as well as an information terminal that is connected to everything else. The fact remains that glancing at your wrist for necessary information that you need to know on a regular basis has not been supplanted by any other means. Because of this, the desire and demand for high-quality smartwatches remains high despite the infancy of this industry.

What do you think?
  • Interesting (3)
  • I love it! (3)
  • Thumbs up (2)
  • I want it! (1)
  • Classy (0)
  • Besides the phone apps which will be regularly updated, my question is, will the watch also be upgraded in terms of new features (timers, displays, etc.) given its static hardware? I’d really like to see Citizen eco-drive sort of solar tech to extend the “autonomy” indefinitely. It will be interesting to look back at this watch in 5 years and see if it was the shape of things to come or an evoluntionary dead end. More likely it will be seen as a niche product that didn’t ‘t cause tectonic shifts in the watch industry but also didn’t go away (so long as it served a specific market segment).

  • Chaz

    There’s something very “not right” about those hands.

  • word-merchant

    The B50, the B55’s older and less talented sibling, used Breitling’s first non-ETA in-house Quartz movement; it suffered with major hardware and software problems: from overheating during charging, to watch lockups, to odd button failures, to the crown falling out. I believe Breitling had to quietly recall the entire first batch. Not a great start.

    I don’t know about the B55, but the port on the B50 is purely for charging and can’t receive firmware updates which means you can’t upgrade the watch yourself – back to Breitling it must go, with the usual 6 month Swiss turnaround I expect. Hopefully the connected B55 is better in this respect.

    Briefing doesn’t really get the full accessories experience her either: the charger plug has a visible seam on it, and if the power adaptor is anything like the B50’s, then it’s the cheapest nastiest part from the parts bin. Compare this with what’s shipped with the Apple Watch. Whether you’re a smart watch fan or not, Apple is trying to fulfill the entire experience. Breitling isn’t bothering.

    So, whilst I really do like the looks of this hefty watch, I wouldn’t buy it, because Breitling isn’t really ready for this market yet. This watch is a vague ill-defined experiment and I don’t want to be the paying subject.

    • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

      Firmware updates should be possible via the bluetooth connection. Although I would not expect to many of them.

      • word-merchant

        I would: battery and power management.

        • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

          Those would certainly be good. However this is an issue that the mobile phone and smart watch industry has been trying to crack for many years without noticeable success. I doubt that Breitling will be the ones who can find this technological grail.

    • word-merchant

      Apologies for replying to myself, but it occurs to me that Breitling still won’t put this new movement into their Emergency range; a decision I find very interesting.

      Four reasons I can think of:

      1. The movement is much thicker than the ETA one used in the Emergency range. It just won’t fit.
      2. It eats power and runs too hot.
      3. It’s still a bit temperamental and fragile.
      4. Breitling doesn’t quite trust what they’ve created.

      Also: a watch like this cries out for solar charging. A real missed opportunity.

  • JimBob

    Why do they bother putting the seconds hand on these watches? The one they chose looks like it belongs on a different watch.

  • D Leavitt

    Eh. This is definitely not for me. I’m not a huge quartz fan to begin with and downright hate LCD displays. I see the “888” style screen and instantly think back to my parents early 80’s era VCR blinking “12:00”. Knowing me, this would also be blinking 12:00.

    • word-merchant

      It’s the

      BAtt 0%

      display, and the subsequent loss of all settings when you’re nowhere near a charger; that would be really irritating.

      • D Leavitt

        That too. Honestly, I wear a nice watch to remind me that the are things beyond work or the next appointment. It’s a pause from the over tech-laden life. At work my consul has 10 active computer screens. I have another in my pocket. The last thing I want is to strap yet another (and rather compromised) screen to my wrist.

        I’m not knocking useful tools – the recent Casio G Shock dive watch reviewed proves there are some niches where a wrist computer (and digital readout) can be useful. But not when it is just another, less intuitive method to access the same info that I have in my pocket, on my lap or sitting on my desk. Time to get away from the screens.

        Sent from my cell phone while on vacation in Thailand – sigh.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    This is one ugly looking watch.

  • Ulysses31

    What would be interesting is if they pulled a AL&S and found a way to shutter the LCDs so they didn’t detract from the appearance unless in use (AL&S had that model where a subdial would move out of the way automatically in order to ensure readability). Some clever detail would really elevate the value of the watch beyond what some might call an “overpriced-quartz”. PVD, still a smudge-magnet.

  • Boogur T. Wang

    Good review Mr. Adams. Not a very convincing review; but perhaps that is to be expected considering the item you are reviewing.
    This is most definitely not a watch ready for the market. Too many shortcomings and unanswered questions regarding usability.
    And, frankly, it is butt-ugly.

    • Well…it’s a Breitling after all (and looks like it).

  • Tech aside, $9000 and it doesn’t come on a bracelet? The $3500 Breitling Aerospace EVO does. And has a dual time, countdowntimer, stopwatch, etc function as well.

    I could save five grand and count my own steps, or whatever it is these smartwatches do.

  • Mark Baran

    Calling this a “smartwatch” is probably a stretch. Calling it a “multifunction quartz watch with programmable Bluetooth functionality” is probably too verbose. But sometimes verbosity is a necessary evil. I would refer to it as a “very expensive experiment in planned obsolescence built on an outdated design concept.”

    • I think Apple has already trademarked that last title.

      • Mark Baran

        You’re probably right……

    • Beefalope

      In other words, it should be called “crap.”

  • SuperStrapper

    The watch doesn’t interest me enough to read the entire article, but out of curiosity, does anyone know if there is an upgrade path for the software inside the watch? $9k is steep considering that if it can’t be upgraded it could be obsolete tomorrow.

  • dennis

    There is something very wrong about this entire concept in a watch.

  • Dinkee, H. O.

    It’s a Breitling. That alone makes it highly desirable. Just look how butch it is! My only criticism would be the small size as it’s going to be a little lost on my full 5 1/4 wrist. The hand grenade crowns and the spaceman font really work for me. But only with that elegant baby blue rubber strap. In fact, that rubber strap gives me an idea: what would everybody think about a HODINKEE strap just like it? Hodinkee running down the sides. It would be perfect for all the butch watch lovers. That strap will probably be a paltry $600 to replace from Breitling, so a Hodinkee rubber strap at $400 would be a steal. Opinions?

    The HO
    Official Horologist to President Trump

    • word-merchant

      $200 for a Hodinkee strap? Do you really want the little people to own one? Have the courage of your convictions, man. Hublot wouldn’t charge $200. Price it at $975.00 and the Hodinkee text should be in gold.

      • Dinkee, H. O.

        That is an excellent suggestion! Perhaps there can be a “fits Hublot” version for $975 with gold lettering that matches their King Gold? There could be a “fits _____” for all the different brands with a tier pricing structure that reflects the status and pricing of the brands.

    • Marius

      My distinguished colleague,

      Looking at this Breitling Exospace, I am firmly convinced that we should start thinking outside the box. Straps are so passé. Hodinkee should offer an entire Spacesuit for this watch. In collaboration with the Chinese Space Administration, Hodinkee could be the first blog to offer a matching Spacesuit for this Exospace watch. Inscribed with the Hodinkee name on the right arm and the Chinese flag on the left, the baby blue Chinese Space Administration spacesuit for Hodinkee for Breitling should be sold through the Hodinkee Store for a negligible $321,000. Shipment and installation fees excluded, of course.

      • Dinkee, H. O.

        Brilliant! And the next space tourists will all have to get one! Is it any wonder why you are the leading light on this board?

  • iamcalledryan

    I want to dislike this, but it’s actually far too attractive to dislike, so I fold.

  • Shinytoys

    Overall, it’s a beginning, a place to start merging quality horology and smart phone features. Let’s see what round 2.0 looks like, and how much it cost. I’m not used to seeing a digital format on a Breitling, but the times they are a changin’.

    • funkright

      “Let’s see what round 3.0 looks like…” it will have an Apple logo on it and be much less expensive than this… ?

  • Juan-Antonio Garcia

    My Chronospace is a great watch, had it for almost 20 years and love it. Light, very simple to use and comfortable size. The only thing that I missed was the seconds hand, which this watch has, also the hands in blue are nice touch. But at almost 9k, uff, it is a tough sell. I’ll wait for the next round, but kudos for trying something different in this unknown segment.

  • cg

    LMAO! “Autonomy”…. It actually can be away from the charger indefinitely. But it just won’t work…. funny that. You’d think they would go kinetic or solar and junk the charger hassle. BTW looks exactly like a cheap Citizen I had in the 80’s digital combo craze. Can’t see this thing going to Mars. It would have to be put on the LSC and have it’s own sub category with whomever is assigned it’s checkout. Since ya gotta charge the damn thing wheres the plug going to be integrated into. A watch like this charging thing just creates more problems in space.

  • Beefalope

    What a stupid, useless, overpriced piece of garbage. One of the most dreadful watches I’ve ever seen. Everything about it is just awful.

    • word-merchant

      Can I put you down as a ‘maybe’?

  • Larry Holmack

    Breitling should just sell the design to Invicta…oh wait…first they need to make it 66 mm’s then sell the design to them!!

  • funNactive

    Nice design for a specific audience. Personally, I have a traditional smart watch for while I’m at work (Moto 360) & a mechanical watch as soon as I get off. – Better for function & style for my personal needs.
    I love the power reserve & charging design on this watch.

  • Max Blancke

    I have a job where a reliable watch is absolutely essential. So much so, that I always carry two, in case of issues with either one. One is a Breitling, the other an Omega. I also carry a dive watch with a decompression computer, depth gauge, and tank pressure indicator. I would guess that I am in the target demographic for this watch, but I have a suggestion. They should use a normal battery for the watch functions, and power all the wireless features separately. That way, if the tech becomes obsolete, or if the charge cable or smartphone become lost, damaged, or separated, you would still have a functional watch. I have been wearing my Omega for almost 30 years, and it is entirely likely that my grandchildren will be able to wear it. If I had the Exospace, that sort of longevity would be unlikely. At a minimum, I assume that the rechargeable battery is of a rare and obscure type. When the battery in my current Breitling fails, I can locate a replacement in any urban area in the world. Even so, it always seems to last at least a year.

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