Michael Kors is back with its second smartwatch collection, and this time it's no lugs allowed, flat tyre banished. At IFA we got to spend some time with the Access Sofie, the new MK Android Wear watch for women, and its sibling, the Access Grayson for men.
The Michael Kors Access lines did very well for Fossil Group last year, so much so that not only is Michael Kors back for more but it has expanded the Android Wear plan to Diesel and Emporio Armani too. Here's how I got on with the latest swanky fashion smartwatch.
Michael Kors Access Sofie: Design
The Access Sofie benefits from a whole assortment of design changes being made across the board. Notably it's smaller and slimmer than the 'boyfriend' Access Bradshaw we tried out last year.
It's a 42mm stainless steel case, water resistant to 1 ATM, so still not exactly dainty - on the site it is described as "oversized". And when compared to the super slim hybrids, you do still feel the weight of the touchscreen watch on your wrist, but it's now much more comfortable than the first-gen Michael Kors.
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The finish is what makes this stand out though. If elegant bling isn't your thing, you might not be into the Access Sofie's pavé embellished bezel but I have a feeling this is going to win over just as many fashion fans as the cooler, edgier Bradshaw did. We also really like the fact that the design doesn't have big watch lugs making it much more cocktail party friendly. It's got personality.
When it comes to customisation, the Access Sofie is available in silver, gold, rose gold and sable-tone finishes with a few different combinations of pavé detailing on the watch body itself and the metal straps. We got to see a few different styles on the stand - check out the gallery below.
There's a single round, quite pronounced, pusher/crown on the right hand edge to keep things sleek whereas the Grayson has big lugs and three buttons on the side.
The Access Grayson (see gallery) meanwhile is more similar to last year's cohort - "oversized" big, more masculine but still stylish. This watch isn't available to pre-order yet but expect it to be soon. Both watches let you swap out the straps, of course.
The round screen is a bright AMOLED display that looks plenty crisp enough for the customisable Michael Kors watch faces as well as Android Wear menus and apps. As we said, the flat tyre at the bottom of the screen is now thankfully gone - that just wasn't acceptable when you're asking for hundreds of dollars for a connected fashion accessory, good riddance.
Michael Kors Access Sofie: Initial verdict
The Access Sofie is available to pre-order now from $350 Michael Kors - there's more styles on the US store right now than UK so bear that in mind, the models may trickle out. From our first (brief) look, it certainly lives up to the luxe designer name.
In our demo, we didn't get to try a lot out with the Access Sofie. We saw a video of how the special Michael Kors My Social app works - it joins My Looks and My Modes in the watch face customisation screen and then you just tap on Instagram or Facebook to select a photo as your watch face. But I didn't get to try it out on the watch itself.
So we'll reserve full judgement until we get an Access Sofie to review properly. That said, the style, finish and screen upgrades all seem to be in order. Features wise, the real omission for us - across the whole Fossil Group range - is Android Pay which I think would be a really good fit for this type of watch.
The likes of Kate Hudson, MK's bezzie, are already wearing the watch in promos. I expect we'll see a big fashion crowd push, perhaps during New York Fashion Week, or the last week of September when the Access Sofie will start shipping pre-orders and go on sale globally.
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