Marc Jacobs Riley Hybrid Smartwatch review

The Marc Jacobs Riley Hybrid Smartwatch is a fun, quirky alternative to the traditional timepiece

The Marc Jacobs Riley Hybrid Smartwatch has a quirky design, but it’s too loud and uncomfortable for our tastes.
The Marc Jacobs Riley Hybrid Smartwatch has a quirky design, but it’s too loud and uncomfortable for our tastes.
The Marc Jacobs Riley Hybrid Smartwatch has a quirky design, but it’s too loud and uncomfortable for our tastes.

Highs

  • Unique design
  • Large watch face
  • Easy to use app
  • Affordable

Lows

  • Bulky, uncomfortable case
  • Watch strap isn’t interchangeable

One glance at the Riley Hybrid Smartwatch, and its playful, quirky design makes it easy to identify as a Marc Jacobs original. The designer is known for pushing trends past its boundaries – whether it’s pairing bold prints or adding bright pops of color – and its first hybrid smartwatch does exactly that.

The Riley blends a modern timepiece with smart features, allowing you to track fitness, activity, and receive notification alerts – all without compromising the Marc Jacobs’ signature style. We think the design is unique and refreshing  — especially after testing several more traditional timepieces from the likes of Skagen, Fossil, Michele – but its thick case and large watch face feels too bulky to wear on a daily basis.

Thick case, loud watch design

The Marc Jacobs Riley Hybrid Smartwatch comes in a variety of different color schemes, but we tested the black and pink case with multi-colored buttons on the side. The 42mm aluminum case is the largest hybrid smartwatch we’ve worn yet, and it’s a little too thick. While we appreciate a large watch face on a women’s watch, the Riley’s bulky size and flashy looks altogether creates a loud design.

The Riley blends a modern timepiece with the convenience of smart features.

The bottom of the case is a metallic pink that’s toned down a little by a black plastic material on top. On the side are three large buttons — purple, pink, and blue — which makes the watch look a little childish.  That doesn’t mean it looks bad, but even with a black watch face and light pink numbers and dials, the entire timepiece sticks out like a sore thumb. It became the focal point of any outfit we wore, and the multi-colored crystal glass over the watch face doesn’t help with subtlety.

The rubber watch strap design makes the watch feel and look sporty, and we often found ourselves pairing it with workout wear. If you’re looking for a more chic look, then you might want to go with the aluminum and silicone color options instead. By sliding one strap through to the other, you then snap it closed once it’s on the preferred notch. While it fit comfortably, the watch isn’t the easiest to put on and take off in comparison to other types of clasps.

Again, the review model we have is the flashiest version of the Riley watch you can buy. There are far more subtle versions of this watch available — even ones with different types of straps. If this design appeals to you, then you should totally nab this watch in the style you like. More importantly, how do the connected features fare?

Marc Jacobs Connected app

The watch wirelessly connects to the Marc Jacobs Connected app via Bluetooth, available both on Google Play and the Apple App Store. We’re already familiar with the layout of the app after reviewing both the Skagen Signatur T-Bar Hybrid Smartwatch and the Michele Hybrid Smartwatch, as many of the functions and features are the same, but it’s easy to get the hang of for new users.

Each button on the watch’s side can be set up to trigger a different function through the app, and like most hybrid watches, you set apps and contacts to a specific number. You can set a button to show you another city’s time zone, control music, or even show you who sent you a notification last.

There are two sets of numbers on the watch face: The outer rim is number 1 through 31, which is where your watch hands will go if you assign one of the three buttons on the side to show you the date. On the inner rim, the only numbers to represent time are 12, 3, and 9 but you can still choose numbers 1 through 12 to assign a contact or app.

When you receive a notification, your watch alerts you by vibrating, and the watch hands move straight to the number – between 1 and 12 – that you chose for each specific contact. For example, we set “Dad” to number 7 and the watch hands go straight to the number 7 on the inner rim if he calls or texts me. Since you can only set six specific contacts to receive alerts from, there’s a simpler way to get alerts from “All Texts” and “All Calls” under the apps section. There’s also the option to set the watch to only vibrate each time you get a notification, so the hands don’t move.

Notification alerts for apps are a little more limited. You can get notified from up to 52 apps, but you’ll need to check and see if the watch supports all of your favorite apps. These range from Snapchat or Instagram and banking apps like Citibank or Bank of America. We found our most important apps on here, but there are a lot like Trello and Bumble that aren’t available. We’re not quite sure why we can’t get notifications from every app, but it’s a good idea to make sure there are no specific apps missing from this list before you get this watch.

Other functions include tracking activity and sleep, goal tracking, ringing your phone when you can’t find it, and taking a photo on your phone by pressing the assigned button on your watch while the camera app is open. With only three buttons, it might be tough to commit to which functions you want to set. But the app allows you to create different configurations for different scenarios, whether it’s a profile for the gym or for your commute to work.

One unique feature on the Riley is “Mode Toggle,” which lets you look at things like the date, notifications, alarm, and time zones all with just one button. Towards the bottom of the watch face, there’s a semi circle that looks like a smile — it reveals each letter in Marc (for Marc Jacobs) when you tap the Mode Toggle button (which you can assign to any of the three buttons). Each function under Mode Toggle is assigned to a different letter. For example, under “M” the watch dials will point to the date; for “A,” the dial will point to the last received notification; “R” is to check your set alarm; and “C” will point to a second time zone. Cycle through these by tapping the Mode Toggle button. It’s handy, and it frees up space for you to assign the other buttons to a function like goal tracking or music controls.

Health and fitness tracking

Paired with the Marc Jacobs Connected app, the Riley can also track your activity and fitness. Through your settings, you can set the number of steps you want to complete in a day along with hours of sleep per night. The app will show you your steps taken, calories burned, and the total number of miles you’ve walked. By swiping up on the app, you’ll be able to see a more detailed overview of your progress through different graphs and charts. It will show you your data in comparison to a week prior as well so you can keep track of how you’re doing.

Marc Jacobs Riley
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

You can also track other types of goals on the app. For example, there are pre-set options such as “Drink Water” or “Exercise,” which you can set for how often and how long. You can create your own as well if there are other goals you have in mind.

You may have a hard time falling asleep with this bulky watch on your wrist.

If you do assign one of the buttons to goal tracking, just press it each time you accomplish part of the goal. For example, we set our goal to “Drink water” five times per day and each time we drank water, we would press the top button we assigned it to. It would then sync to the app whenever we opened it to show how much water we drank so far. Once your goal is complete, the app will notify you and you’ll then have the option to end the goal or to keep going — it’s a shame there’s no way to track your goal on the watch itself.

The Marc Jacobs Riley Hybrid tracks sleep as well, but you may have a hard time falling asleep with this bulky watch on your wrist. We found ourselves wanting to take it off throughout the night. If you do wear it to bed, you’ll be asked to set the total number of hours you’d like to sleep at night. The data is separated into the total time you were awake, along with the amount of light and restful sleep. The results we received were accurate, but we still didn’t want to wear it to bed.

What’s nice is you can connect third-party tracking apps to the Marc Jacobs Connected app to keep your metrics accurate across the board — that includes connecting to Apple’s Healthkit, Under Armour Record, and Up by Jawbone.

The watch is water resistant to 5ATM, or 50 meters. It can withstand being in the shower or recreational swimming, but you shouldn’t participate in more intense water activities while wearing it.

Warranty information

The Marc Jacobs Riley Hybrid Smartwatch has a 2-year warranty that covers the internal pieces of the watch. External components – like the case, band, crystal, and battery – are not included.

The black rubber hybrid smartwatch with multi-colored buttons; black rubber watch strap with gold buttons; black rubber watch strap with black buttons; and white rubber watch strap with gold buttons are available for $175. The aluminum silicone bands in black and gold with a black watch face, black and gold with a white watch face, and white and gold are available for $195. Each one can be purchased on Marc Jacob’s website.

Our Take

The Marc Jacobs Riley Hybrid Smartwatch is easy to use and includes all the necessary smartwatch features you’d want in a hybrid. Its quirky design and size are a bit distracting and uncomfortable. Since the watch straps aren’t interchangeable, you’ll also have to commit to a specific look.

Is there a better alternative?

Yes, if you’re looking for a more traditional looking hybrid smartwatch. The Skagen Signatur T-Bar Hybrid Smartwatch has similar functions and uses an app with the same interface. It’s also cheaper, depending on the color option, starting at $123. The 36mm case is smaller than the Riley, but it’s extremely comfortable to wear, and looks elegant on the wrist.

If you do enjoy a bulkier look, there’s also the Michele Hybrid Smartwatch, which has a 38mm watch face and larger bezels that make the watch look thicker. Its design makes it extremely versatile to wear both day and night. While it is more expensive – coming in at $495 – you’re paying for the highest quality material, with a watch face made of sapphire crystal and 18mm watch straps made of alligator, leather, lizard, or stainless steel. This hybrid smartwatch will last you for years.

How long will it last?

The Marc Jacobs Riley Hybrid Smartwatch is battery powered, and uses a standard coin-cell battery that’s replaceable on the back of the device. It will last you for up to six months and since it connects via Bluetooth, you can keep track of how much juice you have left through the app. We used the watch for about a month and a half with notification settings on, and it only reached 75 percent.

Should you buy it?

Yes, the Marc Jacobs Riley Hybrid Smartwatch works well and has a lot of functionality. While we’re not huge fans of the flashy designs, there are more subtle variants to choose from. Design is also subjective, and you may have already fallen head over heels for this watch — if that’s the case, you should buy it.

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