There still exists a strong divide between smartwatches and traditional mechanical or digital wrist watches. Tech companies such as Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi have developed feature-filled, capable smartwatches and fitness trackers that are accessible to people the world over, and this has naturally shrunk the market for traditional wristwatches. Few traditional brands have been willing to adapt to the need for modern devices. However, one traditional wristwatch maker that has put in exactly this kind of effort is Fossil.
American company Fossil Group licenses and manufactures wristwatches and smartwatches under various familiar fashion brands apart from its own, including Armani, Diesel, and Michael Kors. The latest product from the company in India is the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw smartwatch, which is priced at Rs. 24,995 onwards. Powered by Google's Wear OS, is this designer smartwatch the best you can buy for less than Rs. 30,000? Find out in this review.
The crown of the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw controls power and voice assistant functionality, and can also be turned to scroll
Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw design
Most smartwatches tend to look a certain way, and are designed around comfort since you need to have them on your wrist practically all day long to track steps, heart rate, and sleep. Of course you need to be able to check and respond to notifications as well. Such watches usually come with rubber straps, for a snug and comfortable fit. Unlike them, the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw looks and feels just like a traditional mechanical dress watch, with a large metal casing and dial, metal link watch strap, and a crown and buttons on the right. Indeed, many people who saw the watch on my wrist commented that they did not think it was a smartwatch at first glance.
The Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw is available in a single 44mm dial size, and four colours – two-tone (dull gold and silver), rose gold, gold glitz, and rose gold glitz. The price of the smartwatch in India starts at Rs. 24,995 and goes up to Rs. 32,495, depending on the finish you choose. The two-tone and rose gold variants are the lowest priced.
Although Fossil's marketing suggests that the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw is a women's smartwatch and the rose gold review unit that was sent to me was quite eye-catching, I didn't feel awkward wearing it, and I think it can be worn by anyone regardless of gender.
That said, the metal strap and casing of the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw makes it somewhat too heavy to wear all day, and I found it uncomfortable to wear while sleeping or working out. This isn't a problem I have with traditional smartwatches such as the Apple Watch.
The metal strap also meant that I couldn't get a snug fit, and so the gap between the sensor and my wrist interfered with the effectiveness of the heart rate and SpO2 sensors. It is possible to replace the 22mm strap on the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw with an aftermarket option, but that would change its whole look and take away from its formal and sophisticated design.
The Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw smartwatch has a 1.28-inch round AMOLED display, and Bluetooth 5 for connectivity with the source device. Powering the device is the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100+ processor, with 8GB of internal storage. There is an optical sensor at the bottom for heart rate and SpO2 readings. It also has built-in GPS and Wi-Fi connectivity, plus other key sensors such as an accelerometer, compass, altimeter, ambient light sensor, and pedometer.
The circular AMOLED screen has an 'always-on' mode for watch faces
The touchscreen can be used for for navigation, and there's also the crown which controls power and Google Assistant through long-presses, opens the app drawer or goes to the home screen with a short press, and scrolls through menus when rotated. The two buttons on the side can be customised to open certain apps or perform certain functions. To go back a step, you need to swipe from left to right on the screen.
The built-in speaker and microphone on the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw let you use it for voice commands and phone conversations when connected as a wireless ‘headset' using Bluetooth. This also allows for audible alerts when receiving notifications. The smartwatch is rated 5 ATM for water resistance, and charges using a magnetic charger which is included in the box.
Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw software, interface, and app
Like other smartwatches from the Fossil Group, the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw runs on Google's Wear OS operating system. Usefully, this doesn't mean compatibility is limited to Android. Wear OS has companion apps that allow it to work with iOS as well, and the smartwatch can work as a standalone device to some extent, too.
The Wear OS app on Android or iOS handles the connection between the smartwatch and your smartphone that's paired using Bluetooth. Wi-Fi connectivity allows it to function even when it isn't connected to the smartphone, for tasks such as updating its firmware or specific apps, or to fetch data from select apps, when you're within range of a known network.
I used the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw smartwatch paired with a Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ (Review), and connection stability wasn't a problem for the most part. A key advantage with Wear OS is that notifications are synced with your smartphone. You'll get notifications on your watch for all apps that are allowed to show them on your phone, and disabling notifications for a particular app on your phone also ensures they won't appear on the watch.
Wear OS is a fully functional platform for smartwatches, with its own version of the Google Play Store and native Google apps such as Keep, Maps, Translate, and YouTube Music, to name a few. You can install more apps through the Google Play store. Popular options available for Wear OS include Spotify, Microsoft Outlook, and Shazam.
The sensor at the bottom of the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw is used for heart rate and SpO2 tracking
Although certain aspects of the operating system can be customised by manufacturers including the watch faces and some of the pre-installed apps, the core experience is stock Wear OS, including the settings and app menus, notifications, Google apps, and Google Fit for fitness tracking and data analysis. I quite like the general look and feel of Wear OS, particularly the notification shade and app drawer, which are similar to their look on Android smartphones.
Watch faces are a major customisation factor on Wear OS smartwatches; the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw has a good number of preinstalled options that go well with the aesthetic of the watch and are in keeping with the Michael Kors brand image in general. The watch faces have bright colours, conspicuous logos, and catchy animations.
Impressively, there are around 70 Michael Kors watch faces available to use, all of which are well designed, and many of which have customisable complications. Switching between watch faces that are already stored on the watch is quick and easy, while the others can be selected and transferred to the watch from the Wear OS app.
Google Assistant is supported on the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw, and works as expected. The built-in speaker is used for relaying verbal responses and playing sounds, and the screen provides visual prompts or information. On-device functions such as the setting of timers and alarms worked fine, but I strangely wasn't able to place calls from the watch with voice commands – Google Assistant just stated it was unable to do so.
The Michael Kors Access app on the smartwatch allows some customisation, such as accessing social media, selecting and syncing new watch faces, and more. However, I found the app to be slow and clunky, with many functions either taking too long or not working at all. You won't miss much if you ignore this app entirely, since most of its key functions can be accessed through the Wear OS companion app on your smartphone.
Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw performance and battery life
Much like other premium smartwatches such as the Apple Watch series and the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw is designed to be an everyday wristwatch. The traditional watch-like design and second-screen functionality form the core of the usage experience with this device, but there are some fitness and health-related features too.
The metal strap on the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw looks great, but this means that the smartwatch isn't comfortable enough to wear all day
That said, my experience with its health and fitness tracking functionality wasn't too good. Heart rate tracking was accurate when compared to the readings from an Apple Watch Series 5 and a medical-grade pulse oximeter when sitting still. However, if measured while moving around, the loose fit meant that readings were all over the place, often much higher than my actual heart rate. SpO2 readings on the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw were quite inaccurate too when compared to the pulse oximeter, and this wearable often either took too long or failed to produce a reading altogether.
When tracking steps while walking and manually counting to 1,000, the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw detected 1,051 steps – an error margin of around five percent. Over a longer workout, the Gen 6 Bradshaw detected around 1,045 steps per 1,000 that the Apple Watch showed when both were worn simultaneously.
Distance estimation indoors, without GPS active, was oddly lower than that of the Apple Watch despite the Michael Kors device counting more steps; it estimated a distance of 1.02km when the Apple Watch detected 1.1km. Outdoors, with GPS active, the watch measured 1.04km for a walk that Google Maps estimated to be just under 1km. GPS tracking was a bit iffy, and this device sometimes didn't lock on to a GPS signal despite being outdoors and under clear skies.
The Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw does somewhat make up for these shortcomings with decent sleep tracking, and by functioning well as a smartwatch. Notifications were pushed in a timely manner and were easy to read and react to quickly. Information was clear and concise, and Google's Find My Device functionality worked well, among other things. Although not quite as seamless and smooth as an Apple Watch, the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw does objectively perform well and works without any significant or glaring issues.
You can also use the device as a handsfree speakerphone for calls using Bluetooth connectivity. Audio wasn't very loud because of the small speaker on the watch, and the microphone wasn't exceptional either, but this is a useful feature to have on a smartwatch for occasionally answering calls if you're unable to pick up your smartphone.
Battery life on the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw was quite poor, even for a full-featured smartwatch such as this. With basic use that didn't involve GPS connectivity or the speakerphone functionality, I was unable to get even a full day's worth of battery life. The device discharged its fully-charged battery in around 13-14 hours even with a static watch face. With workout tracking and a few short calls, the battery level dropped even quicker, forcing me to charge this device at least twice a day.
Most smartwatches look like, well, smartwatches. From big rectangular screens to animated watch faces, many models simply aren't trying to pass off as traditional watches. Many premium smartwatches don't look old-school enough for some people, and that's where the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw comes in. It has all the charm and style of a mechanical wrist watch, while offering modern smarts and functionality. This is a good-looking smartwatch that won't feel out of place even with formal clothes.
However, there are some big drawbacks to the Michael Kors Gen 6 Bradshaw, including iffy fitness and health tracking, and sub-par battery life. It doesn't quite deliver the ‘wear-all-day' smartwatch experience that you can expect with devices such as the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch. Instead, consider this something you might want to grab for a few hours a day when you're out and about.
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