Fashion brand Michael Kors has returned for a third time, adding to its Access range of smartwatches with the Runway.

The new device goes back to the chunkier design we saw on the initial Bradshaw watch but it keeps the fully round display, whilst adding extra features including a heart rate sensor, swim proofing and the choice of a silicone strap.

Is the Michael Kors Access Runway smartwatch the new season's must-have? Here are our first impressions.  

Michael Kors Access Runway design

  • Stainless steel, three color options
  • 5 ATM swimproof
  • Case size: 41mm
  • Lug width: 18mm

The Michael Kors Access Runway smartwatch takes its design from the company's standard Runway watch. It is on the chunkier side (or "oversized" as Michael Kors describes it), like the Bradshaw, offering a stainless steel casing with 18mm wide lugs.

Pocket-lintMichael Kors Access Runway initial review image 8

The standard Michael Kors Runway watch has a singular crown on the right of the watch face, while the Access Runway features the Michael Kors-etched crown on the right of its touchscreen, along with two action buttons either side. The smart Runway is also swimproof, as the Access Sofie was, and it has a heart rate sensor underneath the casing.

There are nine finish options for the Access Runway, which are comprised of rose gold, gold and silver casings, as well as either a colour-matched linked bracelet strap or a silicone strap. All straps can be interchanged so if you pick one of the models with a traditional linked bracelet, you can always invest in a silicone alternative for the days you're feeling more active.

Pocket-lintMichael Kors Access Runway initial review image 4

Overall, the design is very Kors. It takes one of the company's well-known traditional watch models and makes it smart, which is exactly what its two predecessors - Bradshaw and Sofie - do. Like the Bradshaw and Sofie, the Runway won't be to everyone's taste but if you're looking for a smartwatch that combines substance and style, the Kors Access range is a great place to start, especially if you're already a fan of the Kors watches.

Michael Kors Access Runway display

  • 1.19-inch, 390 x 390 resolution
  • Always On display
  • AMOLED
  • Customisable watch faces

The Michael Kors Access Runway features a fully round 1.19-inch touchscreen display, which is the main differentiator between the Access device and the traditional Runway watch. A fully round display is no longer uncommon for smartwatches, though back when they first launched, some, including the original Access Bradshaw, were let down by a "flat tyre" look. Thankfully Kors corrected this with the Access Sofie and the Runway follows suit.

Pocket-lintMichael Kors Access Runway initial review image 11

It's an AMOLED display on the Access Runway, as it was on Sofie, which means you get rich and vibrant colours, coupled with deep blacks and everything appeared crisp and sharp thanks to the 390 x 390 resolution, though we'll give our final verdict on the display when we review it in full.

The Access Runway also features an Always On display, which is darker and more subtle than the standard display, switching to monochrome and only displaying the time in order to preserve battery life. The designs and layouts of the Always On display vary depending on the interactive MK watch face chosen - but they all make the Access Runway look like more of a standard watch than a smart one, as they did on the Sofie.

There are numerous interactive Michael Kors watch faces to choose from, all designed to mimic the design of the company's traditional watches in order to offer fans the complete package. The MK faces are exclusive to the Access watches, so you'll find some of them on the Bradshaw and Sofie too, though there are a few specific to the Runway that display heart rate.

Pocket-lintMichael Kors Access Runway initial review image 2

As with the previous Access smartwatches, it's possible to customise everything on the MK faces from the dial colour to the crystal colour, as well as set the Access Runway to automatically change between day and night faces.

In addition to the MK faces, you can also set a Facebook or Instagram picture as your watch face, as you were able to do on the Bradshaw and Sofie but an update to the My Social element of the MK Access app means users can also customise social photo dials with MK-themed stickers.

Michael Kors Access Runway features

  • Heart rate monitoring
  • Built-in GPS
  • NFC payments

So far, most of what we've talked about isn't new to the Access Runway, it's simply transferred over, or slightly updated, from the Bradshaw and Sofie devices.

Luckily, the Access Runway doesn't stop there though. The new smartwatch from Michael Kors adds a heart rate monitor to the mix, as we mentioned very briefly at the beginning. The heart rate monitor will allow you to track your heart rate across multiple types of workouts through Google Fit.

Pocket-lintMichael Kors Access Runway initial review image 9

There is also built-in GPS, meaning you can go for a walk, hike, ride or run without your phone and the Access Runway will record the distance. Given even some fitness-specific devices don't offer this, it's a great feature to see added to the Access range.

Michael Kors, or Fossil seeing as that's who is responsible for the MK smartwatch range, has also added NFC to the Access Runway. You'll therefore be able to add your cards to Google Pay and make payments using your watch.

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Of course, you'll get all the standard Wear OS smartwatch features on the Access Runway too, including smartphone notifications, activity tracking and compatibility with iPhone and Android.

Michael Kors Access Runway hardware

  • Qualcomm SD Wear 2100 chipset
  • 300mAh battery, magnetic charger
  • 512MB memory, 4GB storage

The Michael Kors Access Runway features the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chipset under its hood, coupled with 4GB of storage.

There is a 300mAh battery, which is charged via a magnetic disc. It's claimed the battery will offer over one day of use but this will be dependant on what you're using the Access Runway for.

Pocket-lintMichael Kors Access Runway initial review image 5

If you're going for a long run with GPS turned on, display brightness turned up, along with all your notifications coming through from emails to social media, you might find a day is pushing it. We will let you know how the Runway performs when we get it in for full review though.

Michael Kors Access Runway software

  • Wear OS
  • Google Assistant

The Michael Kors Access Runway runs on Google's Wear OS platform with voice-activated Google Assistant.

The Wear OS platform has seen an update, making it much easier to use with a cleaner interface but the Runway watch was only in a demo mode so we'll need to dive a little deeper into the software experience when we spend more time with it.

Pocket-lintMichael Kors Access Runway initial review image 10

The MK Access Runway is compatible with iPhone and Android devices but as with the Access Sofie and other Wear OS smartwatches, you'll get a more limited experience with iPhone than you will when it is paired with an Android device. 

First Impressions

The Michael Kors Access Runway is another fabulous-looking smartwatch for the Kors fan. It brings everything we loved from the previous Access devices, but it adds some excellent new features including the choice to opt for a silicone strap, heart rate monitoring, built-in GPS and NFC for payments.

We loved both the Access Bradshaw (except for its flat tyre display) and the Access Sofie but the Access Runway has a lot more under its hood in terms of features, whilst continuing to offer the traditional Kors design loved by fans.

The Access Runway also slashes £100 off its starting price compared to the Access Sofie so we have some seriously high hopes for this smartwatch. Well done Kors, another sexy smartwatch in the bag.

Price when reviewed: