Kate Spade Scallop 2 hands-on review

The Kate Spade Scallop 2 is on trend, and should be on your wrist

The Kate Spade Scallop 2 is a perfectly put together smartwatch in terms of fashion, design, and technology.
The Kate Spade Scallop 2 is a perfectly put together smartwatch in terms of fashion, design, and technology.
The Kate Spade Scallop 2 is a perfectly put together smartwatch in terms of fashion, design, and technology.

Highs

  • Recognizably a Kate Spade product
  • Great updated design
  • NFC for mobile payments
  • Swim-proof body
  • Heart rate sensor and GPS

Lows

  • New button is questionable design update
  • Snapdragon 2100
  • Likely short battery life

This is how you update an already great product. Last year’s Kate Spade Scallop smartwatch was one of the best designed wearables for women, and for the Scallop 2, Kate Spade has revisited the same basic design but with new tech, and sensible, brand-conscious alterations to the look. The result is a watch that builds on the first, and keeps up-to-date with trends both internally and in the industry.

Hyperbole? Maybe a little, but there’s also plenty of truth to the statement. Let’s look at what’s new.

Scalloped design

The scallop effect has been extended from the bezel to two of the new straps, a metal bracelet and a delicate leather strap, putting more emphasis on a design element that made the original standout. It’s very effective, especially on the leather strap. Some may find the metal bracelet moves away from the subtleness of the original, and there’s a basic strap available too, if that’s the case.

This isn’t the standout new design element. This honor goes to a spade motif that’s present on each of the watch’s screens. When tapped, the heart rate monitor opens. Do this and you’re greeted with an animation that wouldn’t look out of place in the opening credits of a James Bond movie. This joins a selection of new watch faces, including a geo-digital face that ties in with Kate Spade’s new fashion designs.

We love this approach. It’s a smartwatch, which means it’s a piece of technology, but it has also been specifically designed by a fashion brand to tie-in with its latest clothes and accessories.

That’s a coherence we don’t often see, and we think Kate Spade’s loyal fans will lap it up, and it’ll attract new fans who will appreciate the attention to detail and ability to coordinate in a new way. On that subject, the Choose Your Look feature — where you can create a watch face with colors to match your outfit — returns, and it’s activated using a new button under the crown (which is also customizable).

The button is subtle and has nice tactility, as does the rotating digital crown to shift quickly through the Wear OS menus. But we’re slightly saddened the button has taken away some of the clean look of the original we really loved. It breaks up the symmetry. Otherwise the Scallop 2 is very similar to the first, visually, which is a good thing. The 1.2-inch screen is perfectly-sized, and the slim body doesn’t look out of place on similarly small wrists. The design continues to be a winner.

More tech

Kate Spade worked with Fossil on the Scallop 2 and has implemented the same tech we’ve seen added to other new-generation Fossil and Fossil-made smartwatches this year. That means a heart rate sensor, NFC for Google Pay contactless payments, GPS, and swim-proof water resistance is onboard, along with the latest version of Google’s Wear OS. It’s a significant step above the older versions, and combined with the rotating crown, much easier to navigate than on older watches.

The same basic design but with new tech, and sensible, brand-conscious alterations to the look.

Despite using the older Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 processor, the interface was smooth and snappy, and we have no complaints regarding performance. However, don’t expect the battery to last more than a day with regular use, especially if you use GPS and stream Bluetooth music. The Scallop 2 does have fast-charging, reducing the pain of forgetting to top the watch up a little.

There’s one problem with this hands-on experience. I’m not who will go out and buy the Kate Spade Scallop 2 (at least, not to wear), and on my wrist it obviously doesn’t look right. However, looking at the watch on a woman’s wrist shows how balanced the shape is, and confirms that Kate Spade’s design alterations have mostly enhanced the Scallop 2. We’re still not absolutely sure about the new quick access button though, and almost wish another spade motif could have been used on the display instead of a physical alteration.

Price and availability

The price continues at $295 for the basic version with a leather strap, which is less ostentatious than the version with the metal bracelet, and Kate Spade is also selling a selection of new strap designs that brighten up the watch too. They cost from $58, and we’d suggest getting the $295 watch and one of the new straps to give yourself an option. Whatever you decide, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the Kate Spade Scallop 2. It’s a wonderfully realized, on-message, and in-style wearable device from a brand partnership that understands how to bring together watches, technology, and fashion.

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