The Michael Kors Access Bradshaw 2 is another Wear OS smartwatch that’s all about bringing a big, showy connected timepiece to your wrist. While it lags rivals in features and technology, for those who love big, brash watches, it’s certainly a contender.
Follow-up to the Bradshaw, which launched back in 2016, the updated Michael Kors smartwatch has been given the Fossil Gen 5 treatment. Michael Kors is part of the Fossil Group, which means it benefits from improved internals to get Google’s operating system running smoother and new hardware like a built-in speaker to let you take and make calls. All while keeping that same oversized watch design.
You’re also getting sports tracking sensors like GPS and heart rate monitoring if you like the idea of taking this hulking watch out for a run.
Pricing for the Bradshaw 2 starts at $350 going up as high as $395, putting it at the high end for Wear OS smartwatches and around the price of a new Apple Watch. It’s not cheap, but in return you do get that typically luxurious Michael Kors design with all of the latest smarts – much like the Lexington 2.
We’ve been putting the Bradshaw 2 to the test to find out if there’s more to this smartwatch than its eye-grabbing look. Here’s our full verdict.
Michael Kors Access Bradshaw 2: Design and variants
The Bradshaw 2 is described as an oversized watch and that’s exactly what you get. It measures in with a hefty 44mm stainless steel watch case making it a considerably bigger prospect than Michael Kors’ 41mm sized Sofie Heart Rate.
It’s a smartwatch that’s got serious weight to it and there’s certainly nothing subtle about the way it feels when it’s on.
If you’ve owned and worn a Michael Kors Bradshaw watch without the smarts, then this design hallmarks will be familiar to you. That casing dominates the look and the buckles on the strap are big and chunky. If you wanted a Bradshaw smartwatch that looks like a traditional model, that’s certainly achieved here.
That’s also emphasised by the models and looks you can pick this smartwatch up in. We had the gold-tone option to live with, but you also have your pick of rose gold-tone and pavé try-tone options. While these watches have that touch of glitz about them, we’d say they could pass as unisex.
All models have the same digital crown and pushers set up. That crown can be twisted to scroll through Google’s Wear OS and held down to launch Google’s smart assistant. The two pushers above and below can once again be assigned to apps and features that you like to have quick access to.
Front and centre is the 1.28-inch AMOLED touchscreen display that delivers a resolution of 328 ppi. That does mean the screen size has dropped from the first Bradshaw (1.4-inch). There is a fully round black bezel surrounding that screen, which is well disguised when paired up with some of the darker Michael Kors watch faces. From a quality point of view, it’s a screen that’s bright, shows off those watch faces nicely and offers accurate colours.
Around the back of the watch is where you’ll find a heart rate monitor once again and if you really want to do it, this watch is safe for swimming, which wasn’t the case on the first Bradshaw. You may though want to do something about that chunky metal watch band, which thankfully can be swapped out for something more swim-friendly.
There’s small pin mechanisms on each ends of the 22mm sized bands to make it relatively straightforward to take them out. There’s also an additional buckle included that you can use on any new strap you want to swap in.
Michael Kors Access Bradshaw 2: Features and Wear OS
Like the rest of the MK clan, the Bradshaw 2 runs on Google’s Wear OS operating system to bring in the smarts. That’s all powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon processor 3100 processor accompanied by 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage to help handle the demands of running the software.
What we found is that those upgraded internals were on the whole welcome. Apart from some initial sluggishness, scrolling through the app drawer or notifications was nice and snappy. Launching applications like the Google Play Store can still be a little slow though as can downloading apps and watch faces.
Essential reading: Best Wear OS apps for Michael Kors smartwatches
As far as what you’re getting from Wear OS, it’s a very familiar story. You can view notifications from swiping up from the main watch screen. Swipe right to access Google Assistant and left to access Tiles (widgets).
The app drawer is still accessed from holding down the crown. There’s Google Pay, which is nice and easy to set up and worked without issue. Music controls still work really nicely and if you use Google Play Music, you have a decent music player there too.
Michael Kors makes its presence felt through its watch faces and its Access app to further customize watch faces using your social feeds. You can also set a countdown for the next big event in your social calendar. Those existing customizable Michael Kors watch faces are a really nice bunch.
Some bring in elements like heart rate tracking and giving you quick access to features like your calendar. Others keep things focused on the time if that’s all you care about. They compliment the showy exterior and that’s the sign of a good smartwatch face.
Another big hardware feature added to the ranks is the speaker, which has begun to find itself on more of Fossil’s Gen 5 watches.
Along with the existing built-in microphone, you can now hear responses to your Google Assistant questions. You can also answer calls when you’re paired to your phone over Bluetooth. There’s no LTE connectivity giving you that standalone support.
That speaker is only as good as the features it unlocks and in our experience, the Google Assistant is hit and miss with accuracy. If you want to take calls, the feature works, just don’t expect exceptional call quality. If you really want to use the speaker to listen to music, well, you’d be better off just using your phone speaker.
Michael Kors Access Bradshaw 2: Heart rate and sports tracking
Now the Bradshaw 2 much like other Michael Kors smartwatches aside from the new MKGO doesn’t feel like the most suitable for getting sweaty with. You can swap out that chunky watch band and there are the sensors and software on board to track indoor and outdoor workouts if you want to.
You’ve got the heart rate monitor, built-in GPS and with the right app on board you can track your pool swimming with it too. These are all features that weren’t available on the first Bradshaw. So from that perspective, that is progress.
Though much like its predecessor, this just doesn’t feel like a watch you’d want to work out with. Even if you swap out that strap, it’s still a big, unwieldy looking watch to hit the gym with.
When it comes to tracking workouts, out of the box, you’re relying on Google’s suite of Fit apps, which as we’ve found previously are very clunky and unintuitive to use for tracking workouts. That’s simply doesn’t change with the Bradshaw 2. If you really have to track anything beyond steps, head to the Google Play Store and find an app that’s more reliable.
As far as the performance of those sports tracking sensors, we’d point you in the direction of other Fossil Gen 5 watches we’ve tested. You will still get a watch that aggressively latches onto your phone’s GPS if you take your phone out for you. The heart rate monitor is better suited for on the spot readings than heart rate based training. Though even those on the spot readings can vary when measurements are taken just minutes apart.
Michael Kors Access Bradshaw 2: Battery life
The first Bradshaw watch promised a 24 hour battery life from a 360mAh capacity battery. So have things improved? With the Bradshaw 2, that 44mm case finds room for a smaller 310mAh battery with the battery claim of 36 hours. On paper, that’s better than its predecessor, but not by a huge amount.
In reality, you’re still getting a day’s use when you’re using it to do things like view notifications, stream music and accessing fitness features. It’s just more comfortable at getting that single day. You could sleep with it and have some play time the next morning, though you probably wouldn’t want to take this to bed and it’s not really fit for sleep tracking either.
Where things have been improved on the battery front are the new battery saving modes, brought in by Qualcomm. From the settings menu, you can choose to switch between these different modes, which include a Daily mode to keep most features enabled, an Extended mode a Time Only mode and a Custom mode. These modes do work to push things further a day or two extra if you are happy to live a more restricted smartwatch life.
By Michael Kors
The Michael Kors Access Bradshaw 2 is an improvement on the first Bradshaw in so many ways. There’s more features, performance has been given a much needed boost all while retaining that familiar Bradshaw design. For the around the same price though, you can certainly get a better smartwatch for your money – namely the Apple Watch. They are clearly very different propositions on the looks front, but if you want a nicer mix of design and smartwatch features, you might be better looking elsewhere. If you can live with Wear OS and you are sold on that MK look and its watch faces, then you’ll enjoy living with the Bradshaw 2. If you want something more sporty but with that distinctive MK feel, the Michael Kors Access MKGO may well be a better fit for you.
- Typical showy Bradshaw design
- Great watch faces
- Improved performance
- Not built for sports tracking
- Held back by Wear OS flaws
- Pretty expensive