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LG Watch Urbane looks to class up smart watches

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(Read caption) LG adds a LG Watch Urbane to its smart watch line up in hopes that a more aesthetically cool watch will translate its tech to the real world.

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Between smart watches and VR headsets, LG is ready to take on the wearable tech future.

After releasing two smart watches and a free VR headset with any LG G3 purchase, the Korean tech company is debuting a luxury smart watch complete with metal finish and a leather band called the LG Watch Urbane. Given the announcement comes just before Apple is set to release its Apple Watch, LG is likely looking to diversify its offerings before the smart watch game gets into full gear.

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This is the third smart watch from LG, and features essentially the same specs as its predecessor, the LG G Watch R. The Urbane has a 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor with 512 megabytes of RAM and a 320x320 P-OLED round display.

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The upgrade is in the aesthetics. The Urbane has a slightly more trim profile, making it a less clunky fashion accessory, and the screen is encased in either silver or gold-colored stainless steel. It also has a stitched leather band, available in black or brown.

The watch is set to debut at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month. It will feature a heart rate monitor, and run on Android Wear operating system. No price has been announced just yet, but given the device is “luxury” we may see something priced just above the LG G Watch R (which comes in at about $300).

The Urbane announcement is definitely strategic, given that Apple is about to jump in the smart watch game (the Apple Watch will be released sometime this spring, likely around April). While the tech world waits, watchmakers and tech companies from Swatch to Tag Heuer to Intel have previewed and released their own smart watch devices, hoping to get a piece of what could be a promising new market. For LG, that means offering a smart watch that can appeal to more than just the tech savvy.

“LG Watch Urbane is an important part of our strategy to develop wearable devices that are worn and viewed as everyday accessories, not electronic gadgets," says Juno Cho, president and chief executive of LG in a statement about the device.

LG has expressed serious interest in wearable tech. In addition to its smart watches, the tech company recently announced it would be giving away its virtual reality headset, the VR for G3, free with any new LG G3 smart phone purchase in select markets. The idea behind this push in wearables is likely to get LG’s name attached to the device as a swell of products hits the market.

In the meantime, interest in smart watches hasn’t yet expanded beyond the early adopters. Canalys, a tech research firm, reported about 720,000 Android Wear-powered smart watches were shipped in 2014. The Apple Watch, and the surge of competitors that comes with it, will likely be the test of whether the device will have lasting popularity.