Michael Kors is a fashion label with a huge presence, so when it announces a smartwatch it's a big deal, just as it was when Tag Heuer and Guess did the same.

But this isn't just about the tech, it's about the luxury surrounding the tech. The Access smartwatch is an example of why fashion companies should be the ones making the smartwatches - because when they do, it works.

The MK Access comes in two styles: the stainless steel yet gold-toned Bradshaw model, or the black Dylan model which comes with a silicone strap.

The body of the Michael Kors Access Bradshaw smartwatch looks almost identical to the original Bradshaw watch that it's based on.

The Access has a slightly thicker casing in order to house the smart technology, and there are no buttons either side of the crown, but the overall result is every bit as Michael Kors as fans could hope for.

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The Access has a lovely, chunky, premium finish, IP67 water- and dust-resistance, and the solid build quality that MK watches are renowned for. It offers a reassuring weight (around 145g) and perfectly positioned lugs. It looks and feels like a proper watch, which is a rarity for smartwatches.

The signature MK-etched crown is on the right-hand side of the face, featuring a built-in button. The crown itself doesn't twist as it does on the traditional model, even though it looks like it should. A microphone is positioned on the left-hand side and, just like the standard Bradshaw, the Access comes with a 22mm linked bracelet, which is interchangeable.

The underside of the 44.5mm stainless steel casing is plastic in order to allow for wireless charging. This is the only area the Access feels a little cheap compared to the standard MK watches, but it's still comfortable to wear.

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Fashion is at the forefront of the Access, with technology following closely behind. It's all about the packaging around the tech - and while some might criticise this approach, Michael Kors knows how to make chunky watches look fabulous. The Access just happens to be smart too.

The traditional Bradshaw watch face is replaced with a 1.4-inch 360 x 290 pixel resolution touchscreen display on the Access. It's not the highest resolution going on a smartwatch, but unless you choose the all-jewelled MK digital face, it's really not that noticeable. Many people simply won't care how many pixels are squashed in per inch.

There are numerous special Michael Kors watch faces to choose from, all of which can be customised. The ability to customise faces is a standard feature of Android Wear, but the MK faces are specific to the Access and, aside from its excellent build quality and signature design, they are what makes this watch.

The ability to customise everything from the dial colour to the crystal colour is excellent. Once a look is saved in the MK Access app (Android, iTunes), it is filed by colour in the My Looks section. It meant when we wanted to wear our orange, zebra print and purple shoes, we could easily find the matching watch face that we'd previously created in the orange tab. Nothing beats a bit of subtle coordination.

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It is also possible to set the Access to automatically change between day and night faces in the Access app. Choose a day face to run between 6am and 6pm and a night face to run from 6pm to 6am and the watch will change accordingly. It's a nice touch.

The display itself is clear and crisp, except when the all-jewelled face is selected, as we said above. Colours are punchy enough and it's also very responsive. We experienced some delay waiting for the screen to wake up after lifting our arm when the Tilt to Wake function was activated, but it was nothing to be concerned about.

Brightness is also good and automatically changes to suit various conditions. Bright, sunny conditions are no problem and there is a brightness boost option to ensure you'll always be able to see what's going on.

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Unlike the Apple Watch, the Access also allows for a display that remains on, meaning you'll always be able to see the time. The Always On face is darker and more subtle than the interactive watch faces, switching to monochrome and showing just the time to preserve power.

The designs and layouts vary depending on the interactive MK watch face chosen - but they all make the Access look like more of a standard watch than a smart one and we really like them.

Like the Motorola Moto 360 smartwatch, the Michael Kors Access has a "flat tyre" black bar at the bottom of its display. It was one of our biggest bugbears with the Moto 360, though it hasn't bothered us as much on the Access, because the MK design is so much better executed than Moto's watch. If you're a watch wearer, the overall design overcomes this quirk of the display. Sure, we'd rather have a perfectly round display like the Tag Heuer Connected, but that's a very different watch.

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The black bar is covered with rose gold detailing so Michael Kors has managed to at least blend it into the design a little more than the Moto 360 or other devices manage.

The Michael Kors Access smartwatch runs on the Android Wear platform which is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. Pairing the Access with an Android smartphone will give you the best experience, but you'll still get the basics when using it with an iPhone.

Like other Android Wear smartwatches, the Access delivers smartphone notifications directly to your wrist, whether that's emails, WhatsApp, text messages, incoming calls or whatever other alerts you receive on your smartphone.

A light vibration and sound, if you have the latter turned on, will notify you to an alert, after which a card will appear at the bottom of the display. Tapping on it will reveal more information, a swipe left to right will dismiss it, or a swipe right to left will offer options such as reply, delete or block - the last of which allows you to block notifications on your Access from that app.

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Access will also run a range of apps, be that mapping, controlling your music, telling you which bus to get, and so on. If Spotify is running on your smartphone, for example, you'll be able to pause or play music directly from your wrist.

Saying "OK Google" activates voice control. You can ask the Access things like "Show Agenda" to see what you have on for the day, or get it to set a timer for 20 minutes, for example.

Additionally, the Access offers multiple time zones, automatic updating of the time zone and basic activity tracking through Google Fit, by which we mean it counts your steps. Unlike some Android Wear smartwatches, the Access doesn't have a heart-rate monitor - but that's not an issue as this isn't really a watch you'd wear for a run or to the gym (the Dylan model, however, might be).

As with every other Android Wear device, you will need to pair the Access to the Android Wear app. Within the app, which features a Michael Kors skin, you'll be able to customise your watch and change a few settings, including switching watch faces.

Aside from the dedicated skin, the app experience is no different to any other Android Wear device out there. It is pretty minimal, especially on iOS and honestly, it could be better - but that's old news.

Many of the features offered within the app can be accessed just as easily from the watch itself, such as choosing one of the customised Michael Kors watch faces, and in some cases it's actually easier to just do it on your wrist.

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There are some features that can only be done through the app, such as turning Tilt to Wake on or off, or determining which app notifications are pushed to your wrist before they appear, but the list isn't very long. Tapping the Settings cog in the top right of the Android Wear app will bring up most of the options, like the blocked app notifications, though it is worth noting you can still block an app from the watch when it first appears.

Those on iPhone need to make sure the Android Wear app is always running in the background. It can't be closed and if you have to reset your phone, you'll need to reopen Android Wear before the Access will reconnect. Those on Android don't need to worry about the app as everything runs in the background for a seamless experience.

The Michael Kors Access' battery performance depends on a few factors. The number of notifications coming through, the display's brightness, how much you fiddle with it, and so forth, will all have an impact. Thankfully, the Qualcomm Wear 2100 chip inside the Access helps the 360mAh battery perform pretty well.

We were able to get through the whole day and the night without any issues, and occasionally through some of the next day too. Other times the Access would be dead by the time we woke up the following morning if we didn't attach the neat little disc to it to charge.

We tested the Access with an iPhone, where we had emails, texts, WhatsApp, phone calls and social media notifications coming through. The battery life lasts a little longer when used with an Android device.

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In terms of overall connectivity performance, the Access was consistent in our testing. There were a couple of times when it would drop out and some notifications didn't come through, but this was rare.

Phone calls were probably where we faced our biggest issue, with the Access buzzing when we had a call coming through, but not always recognising when we had answered it, forcing us to decline it on the watch to stop the buzzing. That's not uncommon on Android Wear and as Google updates the platform, you can expect the experience of the watch to get better with it.

Verdict

As far as smartwatches go, the Michael Kors Access is up there with the best in terms of design and wearability. It has a beautifully solid build quality that is not only comfortable, but it looks great too. However, it has inherited that "flat tyre" black bar to the base of the watch face, which means the screen isn't fully circular.

The dedicated MK faces make the Access feel that little bit more special than some other Android Wear devices, while the customisation options and the way "Looks" are organised is excellent, especially for those who like a different look everyday.

The Michael Kors Access does what a smartwatch should do: look like a watch you'd want to wear, while adding Android Wear smart functionality for when you want a little more. For the MK fans who love the signature chunky watches but want it connected, the Bradshaw won't disappoint.

The Access is fashionable, functional and not a smartwatch we'll be taking off anytime soon.