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Fashion and technology haven’t always been the best of friends.
There was that time that designer Diane von Furstenberg tried to bank on Google Glass, and it didn’t exactly take off. Then there was that time Hermès sought to make you pay more than $1,000 for an Apple Watch, and again, no takeoff. It seemed like there was never going to be a tech and fashion partnership that truly balanced style and function.
But now, Michael Kors is here to try and change your mind. Today, Sept. 6, Kors launches the Michael Kors Access smartwatch, a high-end fashion spin on the Apple Watch that allows the wearer to play their personal designer, choosing between a number of different band options and face options. It is for the kind of person who wants a smartwatch that looks less like an Apple Watch and more like, well, a luxury watch.
“Our customers love fashion and they’re plugged in 24/7,” Kors said in a press release. “I think they’ll appreciate having social connectivity and health and fitness tracking all within a great-looking accessory.”
The watch’s campaign stars actress Zendaya and top model Martha Hunt, and in a video recently released for the watch, you can see Access in action, alerting the women whenever there’s a text, and allowing them to respond by talking into the device like we’re all living in some science fiction novel.
To see if this watch is all that, Mic tested it out for a few weeks before the launch. Here are one writer’s thoughts:
For our review, I received a gold tone Bradshaw, which looks like an uber-expensive gold watch akin to a Rolex, except the face is like a tiny touchscreen computer. It’s the one Zendaya wears in the campaign video, but sans diamonds in the band.
In addition to the Bradshaw version that we received, the Bradshaw (which is the version marketed towards women), can come with a number of different bands like silver, rose gold, leather, rubber and even snakeskin.
The men’s version, called the Dylan, is a bit chunkier, with bands that come in a similar array of rubber and leather as well. Each watch version comes with a completely customizable face, with designs you can pick by hand and change as much as your heart desires.
By far the most immediately appealing thing about this watch is the endless customization that one can do with just a few swipes of your finger. You can change the face’s design, deciding between 12 different options that vary between looking like a starry sky to a map of the Earth to a speedometer, and you can then change the colours within that design.
So, for instance, if you choose the face design Zendaya has in the campaign video, which looks like a bunch of falling diamonds, you can choose the colour of the face and then also the colour of those diamonds. You could, theoretically, match the watch to your outfit on any given day.
Now as far as the technology within the watch, that’s when it gets fascinating.
First, you download an app onto your phone called “Android Wear” (but don’t worry, you don’t have to have an Android phone to use this), register your watch and remember to turn on the Bluetooth feature on your phone. Then, your phone and your watch have a conversation between one another, syncing calendars and alarms and even text messages, too.
For a person who can barely operate her phone and just learned that you could have an alarm repeat every single day, this was a lot. But it was admittedly fun to learn all the things this watch can do slowly.
For example, you can speak into your watch and tell it to do things for you, very similarly to Siri. You can feel like an international spy by saying something like “Set an alarm at 12:30 to eat lunch, you forgetful fool” and then it sets an alarm for you, whether you consider yourself a careless idiot or not. (I should also note here that the alarm is a much more peaceful tinkle compared to some of the more annoying alerts on your phone.)
It’s all very 2051. I felt like Lisa Vanderpump from the future.
You can check the weather, see your agenda for the day or how much (or how little) you’ve walked. You can even see incoming text messages right on your wrist.
There’s also the navigation feature, which allows you to have Google Maps right on your watch. For someone who lives in New York City and is constantly trying to find her way to the nearest pizza place or Sephora, this was important to me.
Another great feature: The charge on this watch lasted quite a long time. It comes with a charging USB cord much like your phone probably does, and then a tiny round pad to sit the watch on top of. Expect to charge the watch nightly, the same you would have your phone.
As someone who never found the Apple Watch all that aesthetically pleasing, I loved the look of this watch, which resembles a classic men’s watch, with its thick band and broad face. I didn’t feel so much like I had a computer on my wrist as much as I did a personal assistant. It also made me feel strangely powerful — but blame that on feeling like Lisa Vanderpump I guess.
So, is this the watch of the future? If you’re a person who wants only the most important aspects of your phone right on your wrist, and the ability to change the look of your watch at any second, maybe so.
You can look at the smartwatch’s video campaign below:
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