LOVE my phone. People, who go hours without checking their phones? Yeah, it ain’t me. Smartwatches, as my non-tech-geeky brain comprehends, are supposed to reduce my dependence on my phone. Why would I want to see less of the thing I love? But it doesn’t hurt that the Michael Kors Access Runway smartwatch is a total looker and lures an accessory-lover like me right into its rose-gold clasp.
The MK Access Runway is part of Fossil Group’s recently launched bunch of Gen 4 smartwatches. I’ve already used Fossil’s hybrid smartwatch—started out excited and reduced to using it sparingly because of battery issues. But mostly, I couldn’t live up to the conscious decision to use the features of the watch. I was excited to see if a full-blown smartwatch does a better number on me. Let’s break it down, shall we?
Unwrapping the fancy box
I was opening up the box like an excited child opening up presents on Christmas. And well, I kind of expected more fancy, I think? The watch came in your regular box packaging, with instruction manuals and a charger on top, and the watch nestled on a white cushion underneath it. I would’ve loved for it to come in a nice case or a metal box. What can I say? I’m a hoarder who loves pretty boxes to keep my things in.
First impressions: Ooh, fancy!
I’m a sucker for Michael Kors bags and wallets. They’re chic and durable, which for me, makes them worth their price tag. The Michael Kors Access Runway Rose Gold variant (phew, that’s a mouthful) is priced higher than the others (INR 39K). In its defence, it is pretty.
My wrists are thicker, which means I cannot do thin straps or small dials. MK Access’ oversized dial felt perfect, and so did the rose-gold-toned stainless steel belt. I have a feeling it would look just as amazing on a slimmer wrist. The watch came with an additional buckle, in case I felt like shifting to leather straps. The gold wasn’t too ‘in the eye’, and it was a look I could take from casual to occasions easily.
The AMOLED display was unexpectedly decent. But it made me greedy and wish for a slightly sharper quality. I tried out multiple watch faces just to make sure my judgement wasn’t too rushed. There were quite a few options to spoil me for choice, and if those weren’t enough, there were more I could download. Furthermore, once my social accounts (Instagram & Facebook) were connected, I could easily access the images from them to set as screen wallpapers. I’ve been changing the watch face to suit my mood every few days!
So far, so fabulous!
Setting it up: After a slight inconvenience, we were open for business!
The MK Access is powered by Google Wear OS, and I was expecting the setup to go super smooth with my Android phone. But there were a few hiccups that required me to reset the watch and start the pairing process over twice. Now this might just be because of my Samsung Galaxy Note 5’s senior citizen status, so I’ll give my new BFF the benefit of doubt.
The watch has simple navigation: Swipe up for notifications, down for quick-access functions, right for Google Assistant and left for Google Fit stats. The crown on the side of the dial lets you access the menu when pressed, and scroll the screen when turned. The other two, smaller buttons by default access your social profiles and launch Google Fit, but can be customised.
Once I got a grip on the controls, I was ready to play!
The ‘Honeymoon Period’
I won’t lie, I was like the kid with the shiny new toy. As I stepped out of my house, earphones on and navigating the music controls on my spanking new smartwatch, there was a certain spring in my step. The media controls worked seamlessly across several apps, including fresh off the boat in India, Spotify. Apart from the usual volume and player controls, it let me launch the app from my phone, and even browse playlists.
I’d turned the activity tracker on so I could count my steps and randomly check my heart rate. But that’s perhaps the extent to which I used Google Fit.
Commuting by the Metro train, I particularly enjoyed that I could stow away my phone in the safety of my pocket, and check my notifications on my watch screen. Unless something was really important, I could screen it, and deal with it later.
In fact, tell you what? That was my favourite part about the watch. I could read WhatsApp messages, emails, push notifications, even reply to Instagram DMs and accept LinkedIn requests from it. I’ve got two words for you—Suggested Replies! They were actually pretty awesome, clever even, and offered emoji options. For anything else, there was Google Keyboard to type it, swipe it, or voice-to-text as well. I didn’t use either of these, but the Suggested Replies were on fire!
I do regret not trying one function though: the payment technology. The watch supports NFC, which means once you set up Google Pay on it, touch payments can be made with the watch.
How’s the performance? Umm, nice, Sir?
IT DIDN’T LAG. And for some reason, I felt relieved. It responded well to my touch. Maybe once in a while, when my confused, impatient self swiped in multiple directions in rapid succession, there might’ve been a little hesitance. Even when I tried using voice commands for Google Assistant in crowded places. But for the most part, it was smooth-sailing.
Battery: The Midnight to my Cinderella Story
I won’t lie, I came with a preconceived notion that the battery life would be abysmal. But I was pleasantly surprised. If I left my house on full charge, and used it for all the things I mentioned above, it would last me till I reached home—so, say about 10-12 hours? That being said, my usage wasn’t optimum on all these days. Once or twice, I may have forgotten to connect it with my phone until midday, in which case, the battery sustained me until the next morning. It powered up pretty quickly, and by the time I was ready to step out, there would be enough juice to last me a while.
It did take a toll on my phone’s battery, but then again, remember? Senior citizen?
Relationship Status: It’s complicated!
Once the honeymoon period fascination began wearing off, there were a few days when I left home wearing the watch like any regular one. Because I had forgotten to charge it—a thing I had to consciously remember to do every night, like my phone. As someone who is pretty OCD about notifications, being able to screen them on the watch was quite a relief. But eventually, I realised I couldn’t ignore the vibration on my wrist and just had to check them, a distraction I could avoid with my phone if I kept it away when I was working.
I’ve always imagined a smartwatch as a great gadget for CEOs and high-fliers whose every single minute is precious and can be saved by quickly doing things from their watches. For someone like me, who is never too far away or busy to use their phone, a smartwatch becomes a conscious choice. I have to literally remember to use it.
I do finally get it now, the appeal of smartwatches. And I can say that I have been converted! But have I been indoctrinated enough to get one for myself?
I loved the MK Access, and it sure got me a lot of attention and envy from my peers. Because let’s face it, it’s a killer, and I’ve had some pretty great time playing around with it. But the price tag on this variant is a major deterrent. The tiny voice in my head (which sounds like my mother) tells me I already have a smartphone that does it all, and then some, for me, on a bigger screen. So this one is a luxury buy I won’t completely dismiss, but probably save for one of those whimsical days!