Breitling is not an infant at producing watches, however, and has been doing so for over 100 years. The company isn’t per se a tech company, but compared to the vast majority of their Swiss colleagues, they continue to produce a lot of high-end electronic quartz watches in addition to mechanical watches. Most other luxury watch brands of this ilk do not produce quartz watches. Being involved in both technology and traditional watches gives Breitling a unique perspective on the emerging smartwatch technologies in a way that most of their competition cannot claim. It allows Breitling to use their skills and experience to understand how people and professionals use watches in order to help make their new crop of smartwatches more immediately functional to demanding clientele. At least, logic would have it that way.
The app that is available for the watch works pretty well, and it is difficult to review it given the fact that software continues to get updated. I’ll simply say that the app looks pretty, and using it is more or less straight forward. It does most of what you’d expect it to, and I like that you can adjust settings on the watch without having to fiddle with a wrist watch’s user interface.
Basic functionality of the Breitling Exospace B55 Connected is very similar to other quartz Breitling watches that began with the Aerospace. The watch contains a Swiss thermocompensated quartz (SuperQuartz) movement which is accurate to about 10 seconds a year on its own, but of course, it can be updated with the time from your phone. In addition to two time zones (that you can swap with ease) the major functions of the watch include a series of chronographs (such as an ongoing mission timer as well as a chronograph for immediate use, etc.), countdown timer, alarm, and calendar. Within those functions are more specialized features that I won’t get into (mostly because I’m not a military pilot and don’t have much need for them).
The dial and case of the watch represent a minor evolution from the Breitling Aerospace Evo that was launched in 2013. The case, in black PVD-coated titanium, is 46mm wide (15.25mm thick and water resistant to 100 meters) and wears comfortably on the wrist despite the large size. Around the dial is a rotating timing bezel, and over the dial is an AR-coated sapphire crystal. The thicker case is likely sized as such because of the new electronics module and battery. With that said, it isn’t out of line with many other modern Breitling watches. Breitling did a nice job with the dial even though the new generation Aerospace hands aren’t as much to my liking as the previous generation hands were – though in blue I like them a bit better.
You can opt to “park” the watch hands, which means that they move out of the way from the screens – but be sure to remember that to move them back you double tap on the crown. For the most part, using the watch is intuitive, but there will be times, for sure, that you need to reference the instructions in order to learn (or remember) how some of the functions work.
Even if you aren’t a pilot with need for the expanded functionality that these quartz-based Breitling “professional” watches offer, the Breitling Exospace B55 Connected makes for a solid daily wear, and I also like the fact that I don’t need to charge it very often. I have to admit that while I didn’t use the smartphone app with the watch that often, I did like the more simple notifications that the watch offers, and found the ability to do things like adjust the alarms on the app versus on the watch to be a game-changer when it comes to actually using more of the watch features. I’m pretty picky when it comes to user interfaces, so for me, it isn’t enough for an item to just have functionality – it needs to have accessible functionality.
In addition to the debut version of the Breitling Exospace B55 Connected with the blue hands and matching blue and black “TwinPro” rubber strap, Breitling makes a version of the watch with more conservative gray-colored hands on either a gray or black rubber strap. The strap does need to be cut to size, but the matching titanium folding deployant clasp comes with the ability to micro-adjust it to size on the fly, which is nice.
I enjoyed the Breitling Exospace B55 Connected quite a bit, even though I am cognizant of its “controversial nature,” being both very expensive for a typical smartwatch and “too connected” for a traditional Swiss luxury watch. It does its job of riding both worlds decently, and in many respects, it should really be used by professionals that will test and evaluate its features in the hopes that Breitling will continue to make more and more watches that fulfill Scott Kelly’s dream of what astronauts will be wearing on their wrists in the years to come. Price for this reference VB5510H2|BE45|235S|V20DSA.2 Breitling Exospace B55 Connected watch is $8,900 USD. breitling.com
>Model: Exospace B55 Connected reference VB5510H2|BE45|235S|V20DSA.2
>Price: $8,900 USD
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Pilot or other professional who needs a very accurate timepiece and wants to justify getting a quartz watch by knowing it has features a mechanical timepiece never will.
>Best characteristic of watch: Attractive smartphone app and overall good “connected” user experience that feels refined enough for a timepiece of this ilk. Good use of brand experience to produce a modern watch that feels proper for Breitling. Good battery life.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Price makes it the most expensive smartwatch around while it isn’t the most fully featured, strictly speaking. Hands could be prettier. Would be interesting to see emergency beacon technology like in the Breitling Emergency II watch as a means to further validate pricing.