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Galaxy Gear goes glam with smartwatch accessories

Samsung partners with designer Dana Lorenz to launch jewelry -- "Isn't it fun?" -- at New York Fashion Week to accompany its wearable tech.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
4 min read
Dana Lorenz designed jewelry and carrying cases for the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch and Note 3 phablet. Shara Tibken/CNET
NEW YORK -- Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch is about to get a little more fashionable.

The Korean electronics giant has partnered with designer Dana Lorenz on jewelry to accompany its wearable computing device, including spiky metal charms that can attach to the watch's strap. While the line doesn't include custom bands for the Gear just yet, that could change in the future.

"I feel the sky is the limit," Lorenz told CNET.

Fashion Week may not be Samsung's typical venue, but the company looked right at home Sunday in the main white tent at Lincoln Center. Young-hee Lee, head of marketing for Samsung's mobile business, and Lorenz met with CNET in a dimly lit, bustling room secured behind several checkpoints. It's here that they showed off the jewelry line ahead of the official launch Wednesday. The Gear watch Lee wore on her wrist featured a black band and spiky charms to match her stylish, long-sleeve black sheath dress and high heels.

The items include an assortment of bold, spiky cuff bracelets and dark metallic chains. Along with the jewelry and Gear charms, Lorenz also created black leather carrying cases for the Galaxy Note 3, including one adorned with gold studding and another with gold chain fringe. They're either mounted on thick gold chains for cross-body wear or leather belts for wrapping around the waist.

"Isn't it fun?" Lee told CNET. "You can express yourself depending on your style."

In the world of wearables, it's not enough for a device to simply include whiz-bang features. It also has to be stylish, a truth of the fashion world that technology companies haven't always realized. The Google Glass eyewear, for instance, has faced criticism over the somewhat dorky appearance it gives users, and Samsung's initial watches from the '90s looked more like something from "Star Trek" than "Sex and the City."

Samsung announces Galaxy Gear smartwatch at IFA 2013 (pictures)

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Samsung also has faced blowback over the plasticky feel of some of its smartphones and tablets, but it wants things to be different with the new Galaxy Gear smartwatch. The electronics maker also knows that to grow the smartwatch market, it has to attract not only early adopter, tech-savvy shoppers but also mainstream consumers.

"It's a matter of time before all people are wearing smart devices and living very intuitively and conveniently," Lee said. "Five years ago, our smart device wasn't in the middle of our life. Now, look at [us]."

By partnering with Lorenz and her Fallon jewelry line, Samsung is trying to show ways users can incorporate Gear into their existing wardrobes. It doesn't have to be some nerdy screen strapped to a wrist but instead can make a fashion statement of its own.

"We thought it was an amazing idea to show how seamlessly the watch fits in with your everyday wrist look," Lorenz said. "[Gear is] very modern, heavy hardware, a little bit punk. It's got a cool factor and fits just like a cuff."

New York Fashion Week at Lincoln Center includes a booth for visitors to try out Samsung's newest gadgets. Shara Tibken/CNET
Still, it's unclear how much mass appeal Gear will have. The device is rather bulky compared to traditional watches, especially those for women. Battery life also is a significant drawback; users will have to charge it each night. In addition, the $299 price tag could put off all but the most fervent Samsung fanboys and fangirls, and it will only work with the Note 3 phablet at first.

Samsung launched Gear last week during a splashy event at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin and in a simultaneous broadcast in New York. The device sports a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED screen surrounded by a metal frame and includes a 1.9-megapixel camera embedded into the rubberized band. Gear, which will launch in the US next month, runs Android and syncs with Galaxy smartphones and tablets, allowing users to do things like control their music or check messages without touching their mobile devices.

The jewelry and Gear accessory designs were officially unveiled late Wednesday during Lorenz's runway show at New York Fashion Week in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood. Many models wore Gear as they walked down the runway, and others carried the Note 3 in the various carrying cases.

Lorenz also plans to release a video with a sort of heist theme that she hopes goes viral.

You can check out photos from the runway show here:

Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch hits the runway at New York Fashion Week (pictures)

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Updated at 7:35 p.m. PT with photos and information from the runway show.