Huawei struck first with an $800 gold-plated watch, but LG may make the bigger bang in the market for luxury smartwatches. LG collaborated with REEDS Jewelers to roll out a premium smartwatch its calling Watch Urban Luxe.
With a price tag of $1,200, the limited edition wearable is obviously designed with a narrow target audience in mind. The watch is trimmed in 23-karat gold and sports an alligator leather strap. The LG Watch Urbane Luxe will hit the market in October -- but only 500 will be available. Each will be engraved with its own serial number.
“Wearable devices shouldn’t be thought of as an extension of one’s smartphone but an extension of oneself,” said Chris Yie, vice president and head of marketing communications for LG Mobile Communications Company. With the slick style and gold face, the LG Watch Urban Luxe may appeal to affluent shoppers who want a more sophisticated wearables experience.
The LG Watch Urbane Luxe comes equipped with a “deployment clasp” that lets users adjust the fitting. Louis Cartier invented the deployment clasp in 1910. LG is convinced using it on its smartwatch makes the timepiece more unique and exclusive in the market. Indeed, no other smartwatch uses it.
As for the alligator band, it’s handcrafted through 50 individual steps. Thirty leatherworkers handle each strap during the creation. And according to LG, the 23-karat gold used in the LG Watch Urbane Luxe is stronger and harder than the 24-karat gold used in jewelry and heavier than the 18-karat gold used in traditional luxury watches.
Yie is convinced that, “This blending of craftsmanship and technology is a natural evolution of the smartwatch, which is becoming more of a lifestyle accessory than a piece of hardware. We think this is a good direction for wearables and we want to encourage this transformation.”
What Operating System?
We caught up with Greg Sterling, vice president of strategy and insight at the Local Search Association, to get his thoughts on the LG smartwatch. He told us this is branding move more than anything else.
“LG may sell some of these but overall it's intended to position the Urbane as a premium smartwatch,” Sterling said. “It's interesting that the press release plays down the smartwatch aspect of the device and never mentions that it runs Android Wear.”
Interesting, indeed. But what does it mean? Sterling said the fact that LG is not focusing on the operating system suggests LG doesn't see Android Wear being a strong selling point for this watch.
“The company is selling the jewelry angle,” Sterling said. “Indeed, while the Apple Watch has seen some success in the market, though perhaps not as much as financial analysts were expecting, Android Wear sales have thus far been disappointing.”