GQ (Australia) - - WATCH -

The prob­lem with smart­watches isn’t that no one needs them. GQ needs a Chap­pelli Fixie about as much as we do a Buck Woods­man hunt­ing knife, but both are al­ready in our pos­ses­sion. The prob­lem with smart­watches, so far, is that no one’s man­aged to con­vince us we want one. Per­suade us that strap­ping a piece of wear­able tech to our wrist will make our lives all the more worth liv­ing, and the smart­watch move­ment stands a bet­ter chance of achiev­ing crit­i­cal mass. At the mo­ment, in­ter­est lev­els are lan­guish­ing some­where be­tween mild ‘huh?’ and to­tal ‘nah.’ The most suc­cess­ful smart­watches have been those geared to­wards one par­tic­u­lar func­tion – ft­ness mon­i­tors and ac­tiv­ity track­ers, mostly. Smart­watches try­ing to be all things to all peo­ple have, on the whole, failed. Ap­ple may have shifted seven mil­lion of its watches in the frst nine months since launch, so say mar­ket re­searcher Canalys, but that was against yearly fore­casts of more than 16 mil­lion. Dur­ing the frst two months of 2016, Google Trends tells us, the Ap­ple Watch is gen­er­at­ing the same num­ber of searches as the ipod. When did you last think about buy­ing one of those? The iphone ‘6’ and ‘6s’, by com­par­i­son, achieved in ex­cess of 70 mil­lion sales last year. Bre­itling started to con­sider its an­swer to the smart­watch ques­tion three years ago, when de­vel­op­ing the ‘Cock­pit B50’ – the frst watch to house the brand’s in- house, ther­mo­com­pen­sated quartz analogdig­i­tal move­ment. Us­ing the B50 as a spring­board, Bre­itling added back­light and bat­tery tech­nol­ogy from the Sos-sig­nal-emit­ting ‘Emer­gency II’ and ar­rived at the ‘Exospace B55’, which, af­ter all that, isn’t a smart­watch. “A smart­watch is a de­vice on your wrist that is con­nected to the in­ter­net – an ad­di­tional ter­mi­nal that is only fully func­tion­ing when it’s con­nected to a smart­phone,” Bre­itling’s vice-pres­i­dent, Jean-paul Gi­rardin, ex­plains to GQ. “That is how Bre­itling un­der­stands a so called ‘smart­watch’ – which the ‘Exospace B55’ is not.” In­stead, says Gi­rardin, the Bre­itling ‘Exospace B55’ is a “con­nected” watch. It is a highly leg­i­ble, ul­tra-pre­cise chrono­graph aimed at pro­fes­sion­als. So far, so Bre­itling. The watch fa­cil­i­tates a range of tim­ing func­tions that will al­low it to record and store mea­sure­ments in­de­pen­dent of a smart­phone. Only when a con­nected phone is within three me­tres range, will the watch upload the in­for­ma­tion it’s saved, via Blue­tooth. “The ‘Exospace B55’ is a real watch, with a real dial, real hands, real mo­tors. If you look at the ‘B55’ you can’t tell it’s a con­nected watch. The watch is the mas­ter. It is a stand­alone de­vice.” Bre­itling’s put the smart­phone in the ser­vice of the watch, not the other way around, and each de­vice plays to its strengths. The main as­set of a smart­phone is its large screen and er­gonomic in­ter­face, so ‘Exospace’ users can use hand­sets to set


the time, two ad­di­tional time zones, seven alarms and al­ter modes of dis­play. The watch can present two time zones si­mul­ta­ne­ously, cap­ture timed events and, if you want, in­form of in­com­ing phone calls, emails and mes­sages (though the mes­sages them­selves won’t be dis­played). The ‘Exospace’ is pow­ered by Bre­itling’s ‘Su­perquartz Cal­i­bre B55’. It pro­vides an ana­log-dig­i­tal dis­play, an elec­tronic tachymeter, the abil­ity to record up to 50 split times, and a count­down and count-up timer. What does this mean in prac­ti­cal terms? If you’re a pi­lot, you’ll be able to record and upload fight and block times au­to­mat­i­cally. And as­tro­nauts can keep track of Mis­sion Elapsed Time with ease. “The ad­di­tional fea­tures of the ‘Cal­i­bre B55’ make it easy to fll in your log­book,” says Gi­rardin. “Push a but­ton and ev­ery­thing’s there saved for you.” Of course, not ev­ery­one is a pi­lot. Even fewer peo­ple are as­tro­nauts. So what are the ad­van­tages for us sur­face-dwelling folk? Firstly, it’s a Bre­itling watch, not a smart­phone accessory. The ‘Exospace B55’ has al­tered none of Bre­itling’s DNA. You get mas­cu­line, at­ten­tion-grab­bing looks, a highly-leg­i­ble dial, a su­per-re­silient ti­ta­nium case, and a ther­mo­com­pen­sated Su­perquartz move­ment 10 times more pre­cise than an or­di­nary quartz watch. It’s as much a Bre­itling as is a ‘Nav­itimer’, a ‘Chrono­mat’ or ‘Transocean’, and more. With the ‘Exospace’, you get a watch with the abil­ity to wake you up in the morn­ing. A watch that can sound the hours of the day. A watch to time runs, and record laps. With reg­u­lar use, bat­tery life lasts up to two months and up­dates are au­to­matic when­ever needed. Last month, GQ took the ‘Exospace’ to a rac­ing track. With the push of a but­ton we recorded each of our lap times with rel­a­tive ease. With a swipe of our phone, we sent the re­sults to our in­box. More in­ter­est­ing, though, was the at­ten­tion the watch gen­er­ated among our track mates. Strap­ping the watch to their wrist at lunch, ev­ery driver nod­ded the silent sign of manly ap­proval. The ‘Exospace’ is a solid piece of hard­ware, linked to an in­tel­li­gent piece of soft­ware, which works – a smart­watch that earns ku­dos among peo­ple as cool as rac­ing driv­ers. So will you want one? Ab­so­lutely, we’re con­vinced of it.

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