Have we reached peak “smartwatch” yet? I am not sure about that, but we certainly have no shortage of choice. The smartwatches out there – or connected watches, as they might be better labeled in some cases – run the gamut from full LCD touch-screens that almost want to replace your phone, to those watches that look like, well, normal watches, but include some additional brains inside the case that can talk with your phone. That latter scenario is what we have with the just-announced Michael Kors Access “hybrid smartwatches.”
Now, the full model name is only the Michael Kors Access, but the company repeatedly refers to it as a “hybrid smartwatch.” Let’s examine that a bit. First, the smartwatch appellation. As I mentioned at the outset, the smartwatch term encompasses a wide variety of watches and capabilities. There are various merits to this umbrella term, but it can confuse things. I believe that the Michael Kors Access would be more accurately labeled as a “connected watch.” Why? Well, that becomes clearer when addressing the “hybrid” part.
If I were to guess (and I am), the hybrid portion of the label came about because the Michael Kors Access looks like a well-sorted watch, with nothing all that technological about it. Tucked away in the case, however, are the additional modules and radios that give it some smarts. First and foremost, the Michael Kors Access is an activity tracker (à la the Frederique Constant Horological Smart Watch). Given the analog displays of the two models that were released, you might think that the functions stop there – but you would be wrong.
Even with the analog display, the Michael Kors Access manages to tie in notifications (of some sort) from the phone, via vibrations and some sort of hand movement (the brand’s materials are, unfortunately, not any more specific than that). While I have come to appreciate the additional vibration on the wrist from smart/connected watches/fitness trackers to let me know something is happening on my phone (as I often miss the phone vibrating), I am skeptical of what sort of notification you’re getting here, other than “Hey! Look at your phone!” And you know, even if that is all it is, that’s fine.
The technology here (whatever it is, MK has not shared those details with us) seems to take the functions of the MotionX technology we discussed here and add a bit more. While the brand’s materials do not elaborate on all of the watches’ apparent functionality, it does allow you to control certain features on your phone. Using the watch’s “smart control button,” one can trigger the camera for taking selfies, for instance, control your music, or ring your phone when you’ve misplaced it.
Even with the additional tech, the Michael Kors Access still only requires a coin cell battery, which is a big selling point of these types of watches. They may not be as flashy (or upgradeable) as a full-on smart watch (like the Polar M600, say), but they also do not require constant charging and last up to six months depending on usage.
Watches like the Michael Kors Access also manage to look like a regular watch, which means they won’t raise any eyebrows at the office. Which, given how bold some of the wrist-mounted trackers are these days, may not be a bad thing. That said, if you are looking to pick up a watch like this to also be your fitness tracker, be prepared to wear it, and only it. As soon as you start swapping watches, you lose out on that history and metrics, and if previous platforms are any indication, you won’t be syncing this data out to any other platforms (such as Garmin or Fitbit).
On the looks front, the Michael Kors Access is a nice-enough-looking quartz-driven watch. Pricing is pretty good as well, with the 42mm gold-tone (MKT4002) or all black (MKT4003) variants coming in at $250, and the the sportier, chrono/flieger(?)-looking 45mm versions (blue dial MKT4000; black dial MKT4001) pinging at $295. In the end, no, the Michael Kors Access is not going to make many folks take off their higher-end pieces and put this on in its place. For the guy or gal looking to put a watch back on for the first time in a while, and wanting some basic connectivity? Well, then, this could be your ticket. michaelkors.com
Tech Specs from Michael Kors
- FUNCTION: HYBRID SMARTWATCH
- CASE MATERIAL: STAINLESS STEEL
- CASE SIZE: 45mm (MKT4000, MKT4001); 42mm (MKT4002, MKT4003)
- CASE SHAPE: Round
- WATER RESISTANCE: 3 ATM
- LUG WIDTH: 22mm (MKT4000, MKT4001); 18mm (MKT4002, MKT4003)
- BATTERY TYPE: CHANGEABLE COIN CELL BATTERY
- BATTERY LIFE: UP TO 6 MONTHS (BASED ON USAGE)
- COMPATIBILITY: ANDROID™ OS4.4+ or IPHONE® 5/IOS 8.2+
- CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth