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Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

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.

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

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).

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

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.

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

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.

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Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

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.

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

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.

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

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

Necessary Data
>Brand: Breitling
>Model: Exospace B55 Connected reference VB5510H2|BE45|235S|V20DSA.2
>Price: $8,900 USD
>Size: 46mm
>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.

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  • 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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