Kate Spade New York could have unveiled its latest wearable at a fashion event or Manhattan party. Instead, the fashion brand chose to introduce its new Scallop Smartwatch 2 at CES in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
The choice follows on from the company’s smartwatch debut at last year’s edition of the technology show, adding some fashion cred to an event known more for geeky gadgets and futuristic vaporware.
Like other recent Fossil Group touchscreen devices, the Scallop Smartwatch 2 offers all the features Wear OS fans have come to expect, including heart-rate tracking, tap-to-pay mobile payments with Google Pay, Google Assistant voice technology and Google Play Store in the U.S. and other select markets. In China, those options pivot to Tic Health, Alipay, Mobvoi Assistant and Mobvoi Store.
The unit also offers untethered GPS and swimproofing, with water resistance up to three atmospheres, as well as compatibility with phones running recent versions of Android and iOS.
But it’s not the functionality that separates the device — it’s the flourishes. For that, thank Nicola Glass.
The wearable is the first smartwatch developed under Kate Spade New York’s new creative director, who joined the company after Deborah Lloyd’s exit in late 2017. Glass is responsible for a number of changes, including muted takes on the brand’s signature colors and a more modern sensibility that still honors the company’s identity.
Indeed, to look at the watches they are unmistakably Kate Spade. The signature scallop detailing on the top ring hugs the watch dial, and shows up on the black silicone strap and pink gold-tone bracelet. On the touchscreen, the brand’s famous spade icon works as an interface element that conjures the user’s heart-rate information.
Those choices in someone else’s hands could have come off as overly cute or prissy. But here, they’re smart and appealing.
The tech sector’s smartwatch makers could learn a thing or two from Kate Spade’s approach to female-oriented design.
“We thoughtfully designed our Scallop Smartwatch 2 for the women of today, who want to stay connected to what matters most in a way that’s stylish and authentic to them,” said Glass, who designed some of the watch faces.
“We combined our feminine design details, including our signature spade and scallop detailing, with the latest technology and customization features for her everyday needs. She can track her heart rate and customize the dial to complement what she’s wearing,” she added.
The device also offers a micro app that can customize the dial to match the user’s outfit, based on a handful of questions.
“This smartwatch is a sophisticated blend of style and function,” Glass continued. “An everyday luxury.”
The Kate Spade New York Spring 2019 Scallop Smartwatch 2 collection is available for presale online on Tuesday and will arrive in stores and on katespade.com in late January.