Breitling Relies on the Connected Watch

Interview with Breitling Vice President Jean-Paul Girardin.

Breitling relies on its connected watch Exospace B55 and at the same time improves its Mechanikwerke: in Hamburg, Chronos editor-in-chief Rüdiger Bucher met the vice president of Breitling, Jean-Paul Girardin.

Mr Girardin, on her arm I see no mechanical clock, but the Exospace B55: The connected watch, which you have presented 2015. How come? I personally have been wearing them for months, and if I don’t wear them, I notice how much they lack me. The Exospace offers a perfect combination in terms of precision, performance and design: First of all it is a typical Breitling chronograph with a typical Breitling design. It offers many useful functions such as saving lap times, count-up and count-down, two alarms, a second time zone and a speed indicator. Here is what we always aspire to at Breitling: emotional, useful and easy to use. Given its user-friendliness, Exospace is the best electronic chronograph for me.

Can you call them Smart watch? No, it is not a Smart watch in the conventional sense. It is not directly connected to the Internet and does not serve as an interface to the smart phone. This is a real clock, but it is connected to the smart phone to make all the important settings. This is more convenient than on the much smaller display of the watch. In theory, you can also set everything on the clock itself.

Breitling is a brand for pilots. Does the watch also offer functions for flyers? Yes. For example, a pilot must carry a logbook. He has to write down how long he flew, when he left the parking position, when he flew off and when he landed and when he reached the parking position, so block-on again. You can easily enter all this data with the Exospace. You only have to go into Chronoflight mode and press the push button at two o’clock: block-off, take-off, landing and block-on. I do this when I fly by helicopter from our headquarters in Grenchen to our factories in La Chaux-de-Fonds. See: Here I saved the last flights. (Displays the data on his watch) You can also send this data by e-mail. So you don’t have to write anything extra, which is always tedious. Such a thing is a sensible further development of the classical chronograph.

What does one watch in five years look like? Since the clock costs around 8,000 euros, we have taken care that the electronic components used in the interior have a correspondingly long lifespan. The watch is equipped with a titanium case, it is waterproof, the contacts are stainless, and it has a window on the dial through which the antenna can send.

I meant, isn’t she outdated? No. The watch gets older with the carrier together, it grows with it, it doesn’t get outdated. There are updates, both for the apps and for the firmware of the clock. The watch update can be downloaded directly via Bluetooth; You don’t have to go to a customer service center. The clock works with Android and iOS. And finally, the watch works even without a smartphone.

Is this the future of the watch or rather an intermediate step? I can’t speak for other manufacturers. For us it was clear that the energy-saving Bluetooth connection fits well with Breitling. Ultimately, it is a matter of making the operation of chronographs easier. This has tradition at Breitling: Just remember that we have introduced 1915 as the first manufacturer to the independent pusher in the chronograph and 1934 the second pusher at 4 o’clock, with which the zero position was separated from the start-stop function. 1942 followed the slider bezel, first at the Chronomat, 1952 then at the then introduced Navitimer. And 1995 we brought with the emergency the first clock that can send signals to satellites. All these useful features can be found today in our watches. That’s nothing outdated. But we are not going to build a proper Smart watch.

Since 1999, Breitling has been testing all movements from the COSC. Now there are competition brands like Omega that go beyond and test finished watches. Do you feel the need to make something new here? The unexceptional COSC certification is very important for us, this is the quality philosophy of Breitling. We have 100 percent of our production certified. For us this means that if a work is not certified, it comes back to us, we have to re-adjust it and send it back to COSC. That’s a huge effort. We must therefore see in our own interests that the works are so good from the outset that this does not happen. For this we have to handle the complete production accordingly. We also benefit from the COSC: The works are there for 15 days and run. We receive all the gear results from the COSC and use this data to optimize our production processes. This works only because only works are tested. With complete clocks this would be much too expensive. The logistics problem alone, the necessary insurance for the watches!

But after the works have been put into the enclosure, the gearing can change. Yes. Here the responsibility of the brands comes into play. You need to ensure that the factory is switched on as well as before in the COSC test. We are therefore setting much earlier. Even with the construction, we make sure that the work and housing are so designed that the accuracy of the gears does not change. For example, the work must not be installed in such a way that it is too much under tension.

The COSC allows values between–4 and+6 seconds deviation per 24 hours. Yes, but we basically only send works to the COSC, which are between 0 and + 6 seconds. A Breitling watch is not supposed to go down! We’ll check that after the shelling. Our philosophy also includes the fact that a watch, when it comes into a Breitling service center after years, can be readjusted so that it goes as precisely as it was in the beginning when it was new.

How do you see the subject of magnetism? Is this a big threat to the clock? Yes, there is more and more magnetism everywhere in everyday life. All our watches are within the now valid standards.

Which, however, are not very high. We are on this subject. With our department Chronoworks we have made the first step: we have rebuilt our movement B01. In the Chronoworks version there are anchors and wheel as well as the entire train of silicon, making them lighter and Amagnetisch. In the future, we will do even more in this direction.

The first Chronoworks caliber is currently only available in a limited edition for a good 37,000 euro. What’s next? Are Chronoworks works to replace the previous Chronographenwerke one day? No, you have to think of it like a racing department at an automobile manufacturer. With Chronoworks we can test new technical solutions and innovations. But these are not concept clocks that exist only once or twice, but are real series of Chronometerzertifizierten fashion watches that we sell–like the Superocean heritage Chronoworks you mentioned. Later, we can bring these innovations into the larger series.

is Chronoworks a department or a project? Both. Most of the people who work for Chronoworks are working in the research and development department as well as in the laboratory. These are our best designers, the engineers who develop our works, the best laboratory watchmakers. Mathematicians who perform numerical simulations and chemists who work on oils and fats are also involved. They examine all the details at work and look at what can be improved. We have already discovered some approaches: the first Chronoworks caliber has a ceramic Platinenmodul, in which the cones of the wheels are directly put in, without the need for bearing stones. For the inhibition we have developed a new geometry, in addition, there is a new balance and elastic teeth for the clutch between the factory and the chronograph. The result is that the chronograph can be easily run without reducing the speed reserve. We could introduce these things fairly quickly into mass production.

So you have to decide which elements to introduce into the series production. Processing the ceramic boards and producing them in series is not easy. We will not yet be introducing this into production in the foreseeable future. In Kupplungsrad, it’s easier.

With your movement B01 you have brought almost all important additional functions: A second zone time, a 24-hour clock. In addition to the automatic version there is also a manual lift. What is still missing is a drag-pointer mechanism. Patience! Next year we want to show you something else on the Baselworld! Laughs)

A drag pointer would fit into your philosophy? Our slogan is called “Instruments for professionals”–what we offer must really be useful. A drag pointer belongs to a ‘, so a flashing second is not necessary for Breitling.

Who is actually responsible for the unmistakable breitling design? Ultimately our owner and general manager, Theodore Schneider. We have a designer for work on detail, but Mr. Schneider is personally always very involved and makes all decisions. This is the advantage of a small company.

The questions were posed by Rüdiger Bucher.

Tags: Breitling, chronograph, chronometer, aviator watches, Manufactory chronograph, manufactory caliber, quartz, Swiss watches, sports watches, Titan Watch, watches up to 10,000 euro

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