Marc Jacobs Riley Touchscreen Smartwatch review

The Marc Jacobs Riley Touchscreen Smartwatch has an understated look, but makes an impression

Fashion-forward and sleek, the Marc Jacobs Riley Touchscreen is your go-to smartwatch for any occasion
Fashion-forward and sleek, the Marc Jacobs Riley Touchscreen is your go-to smartwatch for any occasion
Fashion-forward and sleek, the Marc Jacobs Riley Touchscreen is your go-to smartwatch for any occasion

Highs

  • Sleek design
  • Large watch face
  • Versatile
  • High-quality build
  • Smooth performance

Lows

  • Watch strap isn’t interchangeable
  • Heavy, thick case
  • iOS capabilities are limited
  • Battery could be better

Throughout its existence, the Marc Jacobs aesthetic has become synonymous with words like quirky, playful, and fun. But with the Riley Touchscreen Smartwatch — the first of its kind for the brand — the design is the complete opposite, in a good way.

While the Riley Hybrid Smartwatch was Marc Jacobs’ initial attempt in the wearable space, we found it looked a bit too loud for our tastes. That’s why we were relieved to see the touchscreen version dials the original design down a few notches. While $295 is a higher price for Wear OS watches, the Riley Touchscreen Smartwatch blends a sleek and versatile timepiece with smart features, allowing you to track activities, fitness, and receive notification alerts.

But is it worth the high price? We take a closer look.

Sleek and refined design, chunky case

With a 42MM case, the Marc Jacobs Riley Touchscreen smartwatch doesn’t seem too large on the wrist when glanced from above, but at 11.2 mm thick it’s a little too bulky and heavy. After a while, we became used to the weight but still felt relieved when taking it off after wearing it for an entire work day. As a unisex smartwatch, men may find it isn’t too different than traditional watches, aside from it possibly being a little bit smaller.

It comes in three color variants — but we tested the rose gold case with a cement colored watch strap. Other options are a black case with a black watch strap and gold case with a white watch strap.

Even though it follows the common rose gold color scheme that’s become typical in women’s smartwatches today, the Riley Touchscreen is sleek. Similar to the Kate Spade Scallop smartwatch, both the case and strap look and feel high-end — giving the watch a chic and minimalist look.

The 1.19-inch AMOLED display is small in comparison to other smartwatches. Even though it’s the same size as the Kate Spade Scallop touchscreen smartwatch, the metallic bezel stops it from looking too overwhelming. So, those with small wrists won’t feel like it looks too big.

The subtle look of the case allows us to wear it both day and night.

It’s extremely versatile, blending in with all our outfits nicely — a task the hybrid version struggled with. While we thought a silicone watch strap would make the smartwatch look too sporty, the subtle look of the case allowed us to wear it both day and night, as well as comfortably at the gym. Rather than a buckle or clasp, the watch strap on the Riley requires you to slide one strap through the other and snap it closed through the preferred notch.

Unfortunately, the straps aren’t interchangeable, so you’ll have to commit to a specific color variant. But the solid color options make it easy to mix and match with all your outfits.

The crown on the right side of the Riley is a large button, which opens a list of installed apps such as contacts, the weather, and the Google Play Store when pressed. Hold it down to trigger Google Assistant – which we’ll get to later.

Large display, smooth performance

Like nearly all Wear OS smartwatches, the Riley is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor and backed by 512MB of RAM. With 4GB of storage, you can also store music on the smartwatch and play it via Bluetooth-connected earbuds. For the most part, we didn’t have any issues with performance. Scrolling through the menu felt fast and fluid, as did opening the apps.

The screen is vivid enough to allow the colors and graphics to pop.

The Riley Touchscreen Smartwatch has a display resolution of 390 x 390 pixels — which is fairly high for a 1.19-inch AMOLED screen. The screen is vivid enough to allow the colors and graphics to pop, it also gets bright enough to comfortably see content outdoors. But we did prefer sticking with the highest brightness level rather than keeping the setting on automatic.

Wear OS works best with Android phones

The Marc Jacobs Riley Touchscreen Smartwatch runs Google’s Wear OS 1.4. For people on Android, the watch is simple to use even if you’ve never owned a Wear OS smartwatch. To view your notifications, swipe up on the display, swipe to the left or right to change your watch face, and swipe down to access your settings. You can also swipe left or right to clear notifications and alerts. For messaging, you can either use the quick responses provided, swipe type, or voice reply.

When connected to an iPhone, the Wear OS capabilities are a bit more limited. As with Android, you’ll have to download the Wear OS app, but it also always has to run in the background. Otherwise, you won’t receive notifications to your smartwatch and will have to reconnect the watch to the app every time. If you pair with an iPhone then you also can’t answer text messages, though you can accept or decline calls.

You can enable Google Assistant by holding down the crown button, and it allows you to send messages, set reminders, and ask for weather updates. For fitness, the Riley uses Google Fit to track steps, distance traveled, and calories burned. But it doesn’t use GPS or a heart rate sensor for further tracking.

While you’re able to keep track of your activity using the smartwatch, you can also see a more in-depth analysis via the Wear OS app. It’s also where you’re able to control which apps you receive notifications from.

If you pair with an iPhone then you also can’t answer text messages, though you can accept or decline calls.

There’s a great range of pre-installed watch faces on the Riley Touchscreen smartwatch — from basic and understated to loud and eccentric. We found that any of the watch faces looks great against the plain rose gold case, no matter how flashy. While we enjoy the designs the one critique we have is that most of them are animated — which tends to deplete the battery.

We specifically enjoyed the “Make a MARC” watch face, which allows you to set multiple dials on the watch face to show different information. Ours specifically shows the amount of notifications you have, a second time zone, the date, battery status, and the weather. To edit each one, hold down on the watch face and tap on the part of the watch face you’d like to change. You can then save the changes on Marc Jacobs’ microapp.

With the Google Play Store available on the watch, there’s also the option to browse and install a variety of great third-party Wear OS apps.

Standard one-day battery life

The Marc Jacobs Riley Touchscreen Smartwatch has a 300mAh battery that supposedly returns 24-hours of use.  After taking it off the charger at 100 percent at 8:30 a.m., it’d be down to about 6 percent by 11:30 p.m. — and that’s with notifications on.

Marc Jacob Riley Touchscreen google assistant
Brenda Stolyar/Digital Trends

With the Kate Spade Scallop, we found the battery lasted a bit longer if we didn’t use an animated watch face. With a static watch face displayed we still had 13 percent battery left at 2 a.m. While we had a static watch face displayed on the Riley Touchscreen, we did also keep the brightness at its maximum which drains the battery faster.

We used it with an iPhone, so for Android users, it’s important to note the battery might drain even faster — especially if you’re using it to reply to text messages. Regardless, it generally did last us through an entire work day and through the evening that followed.

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 rose gold case with a cement colored watch strap; a black case with a black watch strap; and gold case with a white watch strap are all available for $295. Each one can be purchased through Marc Jacobs’ site.

Our Take

The Marc Jacobs Riley is a fashion-forward watch that looks sleek on the wrist. With a large display, you can easily view your notifications in one swift motion and its subtle look makes it an easy go-to pick that will match with any outfit. While the battery depletes faster than we’d like it to, it did last us an entire day which is the average for most Wear OS smartwatches.

Is there a better alternative?

Yes. If you’re looking for another smartwatch with the same features and price but that’s a bit more feminine, there’s the Kate Spade Scallop Smartwatch. Aside from looking daintier, it’s also thinner than the Riley Touchscreen — the case measures just 9mm thick. With interchangeable watch straps, it’s more customizable too. We also found the battery lasted us a little longer.

If you’re looking for another unisex smartwatch with an even larger watch face, the Misfit Vapor features a 1.39-inch display. With a touch-sensitive bezel, you can browse through menus and notifications by brushing your finger along the black edges of the watch. There’s also a built-in heart rate sensor. As for price, it’s not as expensive, with a price tag of $200.

For iOS users keen to take advantage of all the features on a smartwatch, we recommend the Apple Watch Series 3.

How long will it last?

The Marc Jacobs Riley Touchscreen Smartwatch should last you beyond the two-year limited warranty. But the battery will deplete overtime, and it’s unclear how long it will receive software updates for — especially with reports of Qualcomm releasing a new chip in the Fall.

The smartwatch is IP67 water-and-dust resistant, so you can take it underwater up to 1 meter for 30 minutes — meaning it’ll survive a shower.

Should you buy it?

Yes. Even though it’s more expensive than other women’s smartwatches on the market, you’ll wear it enough to get your money’s worth. Its fashion-forward design makes a statement but is subtle enough to be worn every day

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