January 14, 2020
by David Bredan
Then, the start line axis and favorable side can be checked. On the dial, the line between 3 and 9 o’clock represents the perpendicular (neutral) start line in comparison to the wind arrow index located at 12 o’clock. The symbols «+» and «-» on each side of the start line enable a swift line of sight of the favorable side depending on the wind direction. The manual of the Breitling Exospace B55 Yachting contains a bunch of additional information and usage examples, none of which I’m going to bore you with.
The point from a landlocked watch-lover’s perspective is that this is a tool watch well and truly designed and made for an obscure purpose — and some of us will see the allure in that. It’s also a much more genuine and, I think, more entertaining approach than, say, Rolex tirelessly repeating how the Daytona is a race car driver’s tool just because it has a chronograph and a tachymeter bezel, neither of which you can actually use or even see in a normal car, let alone one that’s racing. By contrast, with the backlit, massive displays, the tactile, lockable pushers, the hands that you can park out of the way and the strong build (unlike the filigree, borderline feminine Daytona) of the B55 Yachting make it a much more genuine and honest tool — and hence, in my eyes, that much more respectable and enjoyable, even if I spend not much more time in racing cars than I do on boats.
The three core differences between Breitling Professional watches are as follows (outside the aforementioned presence or exclusion of Bluetooth connectivity). First and most important is the type of displays used: whereas the Exospace B50 and Exospace B55 watches use much larger and, importantly, backlit displays, the Aerospace Evo (for a good $3,000 less than these Exospace models) and Emergency (for at least a hefty $8,000 more than these Exospace models) use smaller, non-backlit screens. The larger displays are drastically easier to read day or night, rain or shine. At the press of the crown, both displays light up for an adjustable period of time — the longest is six seconds, which is the proper way to do it (unlike G-Shock’s disappointing three-second long and dim backlight). Another neat detail is that if you press on the crown to light the displays up and begin rotating the crown to look for or use different functionalities, the displays stay on until you are done; you need not turn it on every six seconds.
The second notable difference is that the Exospace B50 and B55 models, such as this Breitling Exospace B55 Yachting, rely on the crown and two pushers for all functionalities, whereas the other models use just the crown (that also works as a pusher). Needless to say, the extra pushers give room for extra features and adjustments. I especially like to switch between the main time displays: by pressing the upper pusher when home time is displayed one can choose between the number of the week, the Month-Date-Year display, the day of the week and the text: TIME. The full date just looks great, while the hours, minutes and seconds are displayed on the screen below, and on the three main hands.
The third difference is in the power supply. The Exospace B50 and B55 watches, as connected watches, need more power and need to be charged more frequently than their non-connected Aerospace Evo and Emergency counterparts, which require a service center to swap the battery every couple of years. For testing purposes, I left Connectivity turned on on this B55 (so it is always looking to connect to the phone, as it normally would with anyone who frequently used this feature), and I use the backlit display many times a day, as I wear the watch on a daily basis. Energy consumption in both the phone and the watch are kept at a minimum due to the use of advanced, Low-Energy Bluetooth connectivity.
With such use, I found myself charging the Breitling Exospace B55 Yachting every two months.
With an automatic watch, I swear I would be spending disproportionately more time over these two months on resetting the time and winding up the stopped movement (with their 2-3 day power reserves), than it takes for me to put the B55 on its charger. Speaking of which, Breitling supplies a Japanese made charger, with all the different plugs for the different sockets around the world, and a proprietary USB charging cable. You may plug the USB end of the cable into any normal laptop or other wall plug phone charger and the watch will charge pretty quickly — from zero to full in less than two hours.
Breitling says that the 410mAh battery lasts 300 charges or about ten years before requiring a change. I’d recommend taking good care of the charging cable with its bespoke, round, magnetic end that connects to the magnetic charging port on the left hand side of the case. The magnet is very weak, even carefully moving the watch will likely have it detached, so it’s best to lay the watch down, attach the charging cable and leave it alone to let it charge. There is an accurate battery display that you can see by rotating the crown that allows you to check the charge in percentiles at any time while wearing the watch — and the app also shows it, once you connect the watch. If charging the watch every two or so months is too much of a hassle for you, then you really do need a Watch Butler.
A lot of this is going to be linked to the previous point of entertainment. Nicely made, expensive-looking details serve as the foundation that supports the fun (if there’s any of it) in any luxury watch. As an extreme, but fitting example, that is why Konstantin Chaykin’s Joker works so well — and is worth about 2.5 times over retail.
The Breitling Exospace B55 Yachting is no different. In real life, it looks far more expensive, impressive and detailed than it does on Breitling’s stock images. Out in the real world and on the wrist, this watch looks every bit as the real deal, as any mechanical steel or titanium watch that Breitling makes. The centerpiece certainly is the dial that stands out from a sea of wilfully blocky, satin-finished titanium. Its appliqués at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, and the (yet another type of) Breitling logo on the seconds hand’s counterweight light up when light hits it just so. The crystal is free from cheap-looking reflections (I’m looking at you, Panerai), and provides a crystal clear look. On that note, it was with my Spring Drive Chronograph that I came to appreciate the differences in the “resolution” of watch crystals. I, along with my Nikon D810, can tell that the crystal in this Breitling ranks among the nicer, higher-end crystals for its clarity and sharpness.
The point of all of this is ensuring that this watch looks well-made and appreciably expensive from up close, and afar. It certainly isn’t wearing as much make-up (i.e. as many polished indices and faceted hands) as, say, that Grand Seiko I mentioned above, but it’s a fair bit more elaborate than all those boring black and blue lacquered dials with printed-on markings. The appliqués in the four “corners” (on a round watch, I know) create a bit of a cross-hair effect, adding alignment and direction to the dial. Meanwhile, their surfaces can reflect in a flat black (dark), flat white (bright), or mirror-like ways (lots of small details reflected back).
The four polished titanium notches of the bezel were destined from Day 1 to be caught on things and indeed they all have been, and yet, their letters are still intact. I also love the screws set into the profile of the bezel, along with a tiny, etched B somewhere along the way. It is also strange how far a case and bracelet can go without thin veneers of polished edges along the lugs or links. While I am a sucker for every honest method that leads to deep, sharp and bright polished surfaces on a case (like a Zaratsu polish), run-of-the-mill machine-polished edges present on most watches in this price segment don’t exactly set my pants on fire. And so I appreciate the in-my-face blockiness of the B55 that matches (and adds to) its character so well.
While I can’t think of a better match to the theme, functionality and looks of this Yachting edition than titanium, this lightweight metal is destined to show the signs of wear in under two months, no matter how careful you are with it. The clasp itself, as well as the links the longer end of the clasp rubs against, are the first ones to show scratches. The upside is that titanium, with its warmer hues and large, satin finished surfaces doesn’t rub these marks in your face as much as fancy steel does. Due to the consistency of the surfaces (no polished edges anywhere), a quick refinish will not be that hard to perform, once you really get fed up with the marks.
I wear the Breitling Exospace B55 Yachting all the time, except when I have another watch in for review, at which point I switch between the two. I also wear it four times a week in the gym while working out, precisely because I was curious about how it would wear and put up with it. Apart from some expected scuffs, it’s all good, I must say. The clasp, crown, bezel and buttons all work great. Despite the annoying lack of a tool-free micro-adjust bracelet, the only glaring omission (I mean, come on, Breitling!) I managed to find is a good and comfortable fit that keeps the watch secure when working out and not let it get too loose during everyday wear.
Although very comfortable to wear and nice to look at when on the wrist, the B55 is thick and wide. It’s one of those few watches that I don’t think would look good in a smaller presentation (who knows, maybe I could be surprised), because its bulky, warm grey look is an essential part of its character. That being said, coming in at 46mm-wide and 15.25mm-thick, it won’t be able to win everyone’s heart. The grandiose proportions are balanced out by the acceptable weight balance between case and bracelet, as well as the low overall weight. The watch only wobbles about on top of my wrist when my wrist contracts due to whether (and goodness knows what other reasons), but sits firmly and comfortably otherwise, thanks to the integration of the bracelet and the design of the caseback.
The last point is the price, and I mention this not because it is poor value, but simply because it’s an expensive watch. Once you consider to effort and investment required to develop and produce these movements in what has to be a very limited annual quantity, combined with a full titanium exterior with high-quality components all around and inside it, the $7,685 is in fact good value. If this was a full titanium watch with a nice, in-house caliber, with a carbon dial with appliqués and 100-meter water resistance from any of the big brands, no one would be shocked by a five-figure price tag. Yes, the movement is different but once you’ve seen a machine spit out wheels and automatically decorate bridges like its nobody’s business, the allure and “costly image” of a movement in this segment disappears quickly.
Resale value appears to be better nowadays too: momentarily there are only five of this exact watch listed on Chrono24 and the cheapest one is still only 20% below retail. Maybe Breitling more closely policing its distribution system is starting to pay dividends.
The Breitling Exospace B55 Yachting is everything but an obvious way of spending over seven grand on a luxury watch. But it’s a great watch that will not disappoint those who care to see its old-school Breitling charm, tolerate its bulkiness in return for an enjoyable wrist-presence and excellent real-world utility, and those who won’t seek a mechanical watch’s arguably fading allure in a digital watch. You can always get a G-Shock if all you want is pure utility on the cheap — but the looks, presence and tactile feel of this and a G-Shock are worlds apart.
At the end of 2019, Breitling has rooted out a large number of Breitling Professional references from its available sortiment, leaving a reduced number of these watches available. Between the Emergency, Aerospace Evo and Exospace lines, a low total of 12 models, albeit with a few different strap options, remain. That said, I consider Breitling Professional to be an essential part of Breitling, even if that is understandably not where the brand is heading these days.
Price for the Breitling Exospace B55 Yachting on the titanium bracelet is $7,685 and you can learn more on Breitling.com.
>Model: Exospace B55 Yachting EB5512221B1E1
>Size: 46mm wide, 15.25mm-thick
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Every day except on more formal occasions.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Utility and quality minded, willing to spend on good products from off the beaten path.
>Best characteristic of watch: Looks and feels great to wear and use on a daily basis. Lots of Breitling DNA.
>Worst characteristic of watch: No tool-free micro-adjust, still not perfect Bluetooth connectivity.