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20 April 2024

Time up for Apple Watch? Breitling unveils rival in Dubai

Exospace B55 is priced at $8,900 (Dh32,700), just a tad under where the Apple Watch Edition starts (Supplied)

By Vicky Kapur

Traditional watchmakers may have fallen prey to tech pressures and forced to launch smart watches, but one look at Breitling’s Exospace B55 will tell you that it is Apple who should be worried.

The first connected chronograph from luxury Swiss watchmaker Breitling is now on sale across the Middle East.

“In creating its first connected chronograph, Breitling has applied a new philosophy placing the smartphone in the service of the watch so as to enhance its functionality and conviviality,” the luxury watchmaker had said last year during the global unveil of the B55 Connected.

Read: Watch out Apple: Breitling launches smart watch

So while the Apple Watch is an accessory to the iPhone – and Samsung’s Gear S2 serves the Galaxy S7 and a host of other smartphones – Breitling wants it the other way around.

The Apple Watch Edition directly targets the well-heeled (starts at Dh36,700 and goes up to Dh62,500) – a lucrative market that, until the advent of the Apple wearable, was solely the Swiss watchmakers’ domain.

Breitling wants that back – and badly. It has, therefore, launched the Exospace B55 at a price-point of $8,900 (Dh32,700), just a tad under where the Apple Watch Edition starts.

Read: Apple Watch unveiled: Pricing, features, availability revealed

The model allows users to upload results of various industry measurements, including flight times, recorded times with split times and lap times from the chronograph to their smartphone, making the model well equipped to meet the needs of professionals such as members of the APC.

Breitling invited airline pilots and air traffic controllers – members of the Middle East-based Aviation Professionals Club (APC) – to a first look at the watch at the Breitling Boutique in Dubai Mall.

“This model will appeal to Middle East customers who appreciate the functionality and precision of our watches, but are also passionate about the continuing advances in Breitling’s offerings,” said Aed Adwan, Breitling Middle East.

“In keeping with the spirit of authentic instruments for professionals, the chronograph remains the absolute master and the model’s ability to connect to a smartphone is primarily designed to improve functionality and convenience for our customers. Like many Breitling watches, the Exospace B55 is designed to assist pilots in-flight and on the ground so we are delighted to have shared a first glimpse with the Aviation Professionals Club.”

A The Swiss watchmaker says the Exospace B55 puts “the functionality and reliability of a smartphone on the wrist of its customers”.

Last year, the Swiss watchmaker said that its Caliber B50, an electronic multifunction chronograph movement with analog and digital displays, laid the groundwork for other avant-garde developments – a mission that is said got accomplished with the launch of the B55 Connected.

It maintains that the Exospace B55 utilises two-way Bluetooth communication to enable the watch and the smartphone to synchronise for ease of use.

In addition to its ability to assist pilots, the watch allows users to perform everyday adjustments such as time-settings, time zones and alarms, says the watchmaker. Users are also able to receive smartphone notifications including incoming emails, SMS and WhatsApp messages and phone calls (with caller’s name or number), like what other smart watches can do.

A significant trait across all Breitling models is its user-friendliness; it is enhanced in the Exospace B55 with a particularly simple and logical control mode, involving function selection by rotating the crown, and activation/deactivation by means of two pushpieces.

The two ultra-legible LCD (liquid crystal display) screens feature a backlighting system that may be activated merely by pressing the crown – or when the user tilts their wrist at more than a 35° angle.

This tilt function proves particularly effective for users when the hand is gripping aircraft controls or a steering wheel.

The watch is now available across Breitling Boutiques and stores in the region.