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LG’s $1,200 Urbane Luxe wraps short-lived technology in timeless gold

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I find that luxury watches can be polarizing objects. People tend to think they're either extravagant and a waste of money, or a testament to traditional craftsmanship and an investment for the future. Slotting the LG Urbane Luxe into either category is difficult. Made in collaboration with US jewelers Reeds, the Luxe is functionally identical to the regular Urbane, but comes encased in a layer of 23-karat gold with an alligator leather strap. With all that gold you might claim it's an investment, but with smartwatches still an evolving form factor, it's certainly not the sort of object you'd pass down for generations.

LG is restricting production of the Urbane Luxe to a run of 500 units, with each of these individually numbered. At this year's IFA, we got a closer look at the 18th. It's, well, gold. And chunky. A chunky piece of gold-covered metal with a 1.3-inch OLED screen in the middle. The strap is high quality, yes, but the clasp is awkward to use, and if you close your eyes, it doesn't feel any different to the ordinary Urbane. The watch's exterior also had few tiny scratches on it, suggesting the gold will suffer from everyday wear and tear.

It's fair to say that none of this really matters with the $1,200 Luxe. As with super-expensive variants of the Apple Watch, the aim seems to be more about marketing than sales, with the use of luxury materials giving the devices an air of legitimacy (as well as appealing to those customers who like buying expensive trinkets). Maybe we're supposed to think, "Well they wouldn't bother covering it in gold if it wasn't a good watch, would they?" With the Urbane Luxe, I don't really see it, but I won't disagree that it is, at least, very, very shiny.

LG's 23-karat Urbane Lux smartwatch