The number of so-called fashion watch brands is constantly on the rise. And so is the demand.
This is no wonder, as many of these watchmakers offer timepieces that look way beyond their price tag, can suit various clothing styles, and offer impressive longevity.
Definitely, one of the brands that are the subject of a never-ending discussion amongst the aficionados is Fossil. Also known for their accessory and jewelry lines, the American company is doing really well on the scene of the horological industry.
The number of people marveling at the affordability and style of these watches is huge. On the other hand, there are also folks who don’t think Fossil is anywhere near as good as some of the household names from Japan or Switzerland.
If you’re contemplating the purchase of your first watch and wondering whether Fossil is a good brand to invest in, continue reading. This Fossil watches review is as thorough as they come and should clear any doubts you might have regarding the American company.
Like with any other brand review on our site, we start with Fossil’s history and background. If you’d like to skip the part and move straight to the quality review, click here. Or pick any of the subjects you’re most curious about in the Table of Contents below.
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Fossil History & Background
Before we move to the beginning of the Fossil watch line, it’s worth noting that Fossil as a group owns many other watch manufacturers you might have come across.
The Fossil Group & Collaborations
Timepieces listed under the names of Zodiac, Relic, Micsfit, Michele Watch, or Skagen Denmark, are just a few that are owned by Fossil. Additionally, the American brand manufactures accessories (including watches) for many other popular names such as Diesel, Michael Kors, or Armani Exchange.
For sure, one of the most notable additions to the Fossil family is the brand Misfit. Together, the companies have decided to embark on the challenging journey of trying to toss up the smartwatch market dominated by Samsung and Apple. Combining an innovative tech approach with a striking fashion design, the two brands have released a number of models that are doing pretty well in the field. One of the first was the Vapor X.
The Launch of the Brand (and Fossil Watches)
The brand was created in 1984 by Tom Kartsosis, from a suggestion by his older brother, Kosta Kartsosis. Kosta believed there was a huge potential of profits in importing retail goods from the Far East. Soon after the launch of the first Fossil watch line, the siblings found out it was a genius move.
Back in the 1980s, the number of low-cost brands in the US that delivered respectable quality wasn’t anywhere near as big as it is now. Many folks who wanted to attain a timepiece had to jump from one extreme to another; either breaking the bank for a top-quality Swiss-made product or go for a cheap (both in price and quality) alternative that wouldn’t get past the first year of use. Safe to say, there was a gap for reliable yet affordable timepieces that needed filling.
And Fossil decided to fill it.
The first batch of timepieces arrived from Hong Kong and was designed by a popular designer, Lynne Stafford The simple, vintage design was appreciated greatly and the line proved an amazing success.
The initial watches were ultra-affordable but Fossil decided to take affordability to a whole new level by creating a bargain-basement line under the Relic name. That also sparked the release of other fashion accessories that included handbags, wallets, belts, and more.
After the massive success of the initial Fossil watch collections. the brand grew in confidence and decided on expanding its portfolio. At the beginning of the 21st century, Fossil started acquiring brands in the watch sector.
The two first notable additions were Zodiak and Michele Watch. Both are Swiss-originating brands and so integrated the priceless Swiss know-how into both the main Fossil line and associated names.
Another brand you might have heard of which was bought by Fossil is Skagen. The Danish watchmaker was acquired in 2012 for $237 million.
Shortly after, Fossil decided to pay homage to the exquisite quality of Swiss watchmaking by creating a premium line of exclusively Swiss-made models, Fossil Swiss. Because of a considerably higher price which Fossil customers hadn’t gotten used to prior to the release, these watches weren’t as successful as the brand had initially hoped. Thus, they are no longer in production. If you want to experience Swiss quality with Fossil’s design influence, you can do with the above-mentioned Zodiak and Michele Watch products.
These days, apart from sticking to its mission to offer affordable and head-turning fashion watches, Fossil is also highly engaged in developing its smartwatch line.
Are Fossil Watches Any Good? A Look at Fossil Watch Quality
Fossil watches are greatly appreciated by those who value comment-worthy style and decent longevity that doesn’t require you to break the bank.
They are often criticized by those who expect time-telling masterpieces at bargain-basement price points.
When defining the quality of any watch brand, it’s pointless to compare it to watchmakers that cost you X times more. Instead, we should look at what Fossil has to offer when stacked against brands in the same price sector, such as Vincero or Invicta.
Looking across Fossil watch collections, it’s fair to categorize the brand as low-budget. The cheapest watch models are available for as little as $50 whilst the more elaborate releases, including the smartwatch line, are unlikely to set you back more than $200 anyway.
So, is Fossil a good brand of watch, taking into consideration all the above?
In order to settle that, we have to look at all the factors contributing to the overall quality. And the next part of this Fossil watches review will do just that.
You only get the chance to make the first impression once. Fair to say, Fossil has taken that to heart.
Without a doubt, especially for everyday on-lookers, Fossil watches look way above their moderate price tag. Since the very beginning, the brand has focused on delivering elegant timepieces without compromising on unique, sometimes even futuristic designs.
Fossil collections are flooded with genuine leather strap models, as well as a bit more sporty stainless steel watches. Oftentimes, these watches come with huge cases (such as the Fossil Mega Machine Chronograph model) and large Roman numerals (such as this Fossil Grant model). This definitely supports the vintage feel. Naturally, styles vary between collections but the main vibe remains the same – a classy design that is a great match for a myriad of outfits.
We will have a closer look at the specifics of some of the most popular and distinctive collections further down the article.
You can have the most beautiful watch on the planet but if the durability standards aren’t up to scratch, you will end up pretty disappointed in the end.
Considering the pricing of Fossil watches, we can say the brand offers a decent standard in this aspect – especially when compared to other low-budget fashion watch manufacturers.
Starting with what is arguably the most damage-prone part of any watch, the dial, Fossil offers solid protection in the form of mineral crystal glass. It’s a pretty industry-standard solution when it comes to watches oscillating in the $50-$150 region. However, some of its competitors are not shy of using plastic glasses in some models.
The material with the highest scratch-resistant properties, sapphire crystal, was briefly used in the Fossil Swiss line. That, as we already know, has been already discontinued.
When it comes to the casing, Fossil uses 316L stainless steel which again is a popular usual choice amongst competitors. What’s impressive is the fact that the sporty lines also come with screw-down crowns and casebacks, greatly aiding in protection against water-related damage.
However, you shouldn’t expect a fashion watch to be a great companion during water sports. At best, you can get a 100m water-resistance rating with this diver-inspired collection. The vast majority of Fossil models offer between 30m-50m which is exactly what you normally get from a fashion watch.
When it comes to straps, the selection is vast:
- genuine leather bands – the most elegant but least durable
- stainless steel bracelets – combining a stylish look with the ruggedness
- rubber/silicone straps – for those who value durability and the sporty feel
Fossil would have scored even higher in the durability aspect if the warranty wasn’t so short. A 1-year guarantee period is acceptable for a budget fashion watch but extending it by a further 12 months would definitely send a stronger signal of Fossil being confident in the quality of their products.
Whether you opt for the unbeatable accuracy of quartz timepieces or the more complex mechanical movements, Fossil has got your back.
If we’re talking about watches released under the Fossil name, the mechanical collections run on Chinese-made calibers. Although there’s still a lot of prejudice when it comes to these (oftentimes warranted), watch enthusiasts seem to agree that those installed in Fossil models offer a decent value for money. Many are particularly impressed by the attention to detail when it comes to decorating these calibers. This is particularly in the line with transparent casebacks.
An example of a popular automatic movement used by Fossil is Seagull Caliber TY2806. It’s a movement similar to the Japanese-made Miyota 8215 and delivers an impressive accuracy of about +/- 10-35 seconds per day. Considering the fact that some Fossil watches using this movement are available for less than $100, that’s a really good result.
Swiss automatic movements are available but only with the Fossil sister brands, the previously mentioned Zodiak and Michele Watch. Be prepared to dig a bit deeper into your pockets, though.
When it comes to battery-powered collections, Fossil opts for highly reliable Japanese movements. In most cases, these are manufactured by Miyota – one of the household names of the Japanese movement industry. Naturally, these deliver much better accuracy and shouldn’t lose more than 20 seconds monthly.
For a brief period, Fossil was also offering a hybrid movement type, also known as mecha-quartz. The movement, named Twist, was a quartz-based caliber with a second hand that ran automatically. The sweeping effect of the second hand was pleasing to the eye but not enough to spark a big demand. Hence, these watches have been discontinued.
A Look at Fossil Watch Collections
The number of Fossil watch collections is huge and on a constant rise. New styles and models are added every year.
Going through each available line would take a day or two. Instead, we will focus on six collections that offer quite distinctive looks and functionalities. This way you will get a clear idea of what’s on offer without having to spend eternity on our website.
The Fossil Grant series is for those who love to combine a stylish look with a sporty approach.
These timepieces come with fairly large dials, most of the time measuring 44mm in diameter. The big dial size is there to accommodate three sub-dials with a chronograph function. Operated through the pushers on either side of the crown, these measure seconds. minutes, and hours.
Style-wise, you can pick from a more modern look with Arab numerals or the ultimate vintage approach with Roman indices. The collection is made exclusively of leather strap watches. This, combined with the modest 50m water resistance makes these watches an awesome fashion accessory but definitely not a dive watch.
Since all Grant models are chronographs, the collection consists exclusively of quartz watches.
Arguably the most popular Fossil collection is the Townsman.
In contrast to the Grant line that focuses strictly on chronograph watches, Fossil Townsman features more than just one type. Apart from battery-powered chronographs, the line is also full of vintage watches with so-called open heart dials. Also known as skeleton watches, these timepieces allow you to peek at the intricate workings of mechanical movement.
More often than not, Fossil Townsman timepieces come with a vintage-inspired design, characterized by large Roman numerals. There’s also a bigger selection in terms of bands. Townsman offers many models with either leather or stainless steel bracelets.
On the waterproofing front, the vast majority of these watches come with a 5ATM / 50m rating.
If the elaborate designs boasted by the two collections described above are a bit too fancy, you might find Fossil Minimalist watches just the right fit.
As the name of the collection suggests, these watches present a much more simple design. No chronograph timers, no transparent dials. Simplicity is the new sophistication, anyone?
All watches come with a standard, 3-hand configuration. Many models include a date display window placed at 3 o’clock. Instead of large Arab or Roman numerals, these models come with ultra-slim indices.
More often than not, Fossil Minimalist watches come in classic color combinations, such as black and gold, black and silver, or brown and silver. When it comes to straps, the dominating type is leather. There are also a few stainless steel models to pick from.
This collection offers water resistance ranging from 30m to 50m and focuses on quartz watches.
In a way, the Coachman collection is quite similar to the Grant line in that it consists exclusively of chronograph watch models.
However, the Fossil Coachman watches have a more modern feel to them. That is particularly down to the 45mm case size (one of the largest across all collections) and more adventurous dials.
Consisting of just three watch models, the collection is one of the least numerous – yet very popular.
All three watches come with leather straps (black, dark, or light brown), large stainless steel cases, and two chronograph pushers, positioned on each side of the main crown. There’s also a date window between 4 and 5 o’clock.
Characteristically for chronograph timepieces, all three models run on quartz movements. They’re also equipped with the highest (as far as Fossil collections go) water-resistance rating – 100m.
If you’re a fan of the characteristic diving watch design offered by many popular watchmakers, you may find some of the Fossil FB models really tempting.
The collection is grouped into three sub-lines: FB-01, FB-02, FB-03 – each offering its own tweaks.
However, on the whole, we could say that all these watches are dive-inspired. There’s a reason why they’re referred to as dive-inspired and not full-on diving timepieces. They look like ones but, once we dive into (pun intended) the most important metric, the water resistance, it’s some way off being good enough in order to be considered a proper dive watch. All models come with a 100m water resistance which is more suitable for swimming or snorkeling.
All models have distinctive bezels – another characteristic of diving watches. However, again it’s all about visual appeal as these bezels are fixed and don’t rotate. This means you can’t use them to measure elapsed time underwater.
One aspect in which these timepieces match proper divers is the strong luminescence of all three hands and dotted hour markers.
The vast majority of FB models use stainless steel bracelets and battery-powered movements.
If you’re just like most diving enthusiasts and love the design offered by one of the most iconic divers, the Rolex Submariner, this Fossil model is probably the most impressive homage. Another sought-after feature amongst the diving watch community is the so-called Pepsi bezel – available with this FB-03 timepiece.
Finally, we can’t ignore the growing-in-popularity smartwatch line.
The decision to enter a field hugely dominated by Apple and Samsung was a brave one but it’s paying dividends. Since the 2015 acquisition of Misfit, Fossil has released some highly capable models that are grouped into two categories: full-on smartwatches and hybrid smartwatches.
Are Fossil smartwatches a good purchase? Definitely, especially for those who find Apple and Samsung too expensive. Especially the latest models, Fossil Gen 5 or Fossil Gen 5E are worthy challengers to the dominant duo.
All Fossil smartwatches run on the Wear OS which is an operating system created by Google. Crucially, this means they’re fully compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones. Some of the essential functions include GPS, heart rate monitor, pedometer, and sleep quality tracker.
So, what is a Fossil hybrid watch? As already mentioned, it’s a type of smartwatch that looks exactly like a regular Fossil watch but comes with some smartwatch features. This is an excellent option for folks who don’t like the all-modern looks of smartwatches but appreciate the presence of some wellness apps.
Fossil hybrid watches also have an upper hand over regular smartwatches in terms of battery life. Whilst a regular smartwatch requires charging every 1-2 days, hybrid models can run for up to 2 weeks.
What’s also worth noting, hybrid watches don’t use a touchscreen. Instead, they’re operated with the two pushers positioned on each side of the crown. Also, the display is not AMOLED but based on the e-ink technology of e-readers.
Where Are Fossil Watches Made?
As already mentioned in the history section, the beginning of Fossil’s journey has strong links to Asia – particularly to Hong Kong. This strong connection exists to this day.
That said, when we look at the overall picture of the Fossil Group, the manufacturing is not limited to Asia only.
Because of the acquisition of many brands over the last two decades, Fossil works with manufactories all over the world. Where the watch parts are produced and the models assembled, depends hugely on the pricing.
When talking about Fossil watches alone, a lion’s share of them is manufactured in China. Whilst the mechanical movements are also put together there, quartz-powered timepieces use calibers from Japan.
However, if we look at the Fossil Group and all its associated brands, the manufacturing process is spread across many countries. These include Switzerland. the UK, Germany, and Japan.
Because of Fossil’s strong global presence, decades of experience, and collaboration with associated watchmakers of real quality, it would be unfair to classify Fossil watches as Chinese-made. The Japanese and Swiss influence is there for all to see.
How Much Do Fossil Watches Cost?
As already mentioned, Fossil is mainly a low-budget brand. That said, not all watches are available for less than $100.
The prices differ between collections and depend on the design and the features on offer. For example, the Minimalist collection is seen as the most affordable because the prices can be as low as $50, and barely reach the $100 mark.
Usually, the more sophisticated the style and functionalities, the higher the price. The vast majority of watches with the chronograph feature oscillate in the $100-$150 region.
If you’re a fan of timepieces with automatic movements, be prepared to spend between $110 and $200.
Finally, Fossil smartwatches (including hybrid models) can cost you up to $250.
Are Fossil Watches Worth the Money?
Looking at Fossil reviews online, the vast majority of wearers think so. And we tend to agree.
Considering the fact that the Fossil watch will barely set you back more than $150, it’s a low-risk investment that, more often than not, does a really good job.
Since Fossil is a fashion watch brand, its biggest focus is on making sure the watch looks good and up to date with the current trends. Fair to say, the brand does really well in this aspect.
The biggest amount of criticism coming Fossil’s way is oftentimes from wearers who think that the quality of movement must be at least equal to how good these watches look, completely misunderstanding the meaning of a fashion watch. If you’re a realist, you will agree that the movements used in Fossil watches reflect the price tags perfectly fine.
Is Fossil a Luxury Brand?
Whilst some models might look way above their price tag, at first glance sometimes even luxurious, it would be unrealistic to classify Fossil as a luxury watch brand.
So, is Fossil a premium brand? Not really. The luxury watch sector consists of names such as Rolex, Omega, or Breitling and quite frankly, Fossil has no right to be mentioned in the breath.
Even some of the so-called Entry Level luxury brands, such as Tissot, Armand Nicolet, or Gevril, are on a different page when it comes to the complexity of the movements and the overall level of craftsmanship.
The very principle of Fossil watches has always been to offer head-turning timepieces at low price margins. Like many other brands in the same price basket, Fossil should be considered a provider of solid fashion timepieces that look great and should work smoothly for years.
Where to Buy Fossil Watches?
Nowadays, we could easily classify Fossil as a mainstream watch brand. Hence, the number of online stores offering Fossil timepieces is really huge. Let’s have a look at the safest options.
The first obvious choice is Fossil’s official website. It offers hundreds of models, as well as international shipping for those shopping outside of the United States.
If you value prompt delivery (even same day) and highly competitive prices, Amazon is another destination worth considering. The popular marketplace lists an incredibly huge number of Fossil watches for men and women, some available for as little as $50.
An equally safe and popular website is Jomashop. It’s one of the most popular online watch and jewelry stores in the United States. Similar to Amazon, it offers a wide collection of Fossil watch models. During popular shopping events such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, the number of Fossil watches on sale is great. The discounts are sometimes as big as -70%.
Finally, you can also check out eBay. The marketplace is also full of pre-owned models at fraction of the cost.
Fossil Watches Review: Conclusion
If you’ve been mulling over the purchase of your first Fossil watch and wondering whether Fossil is a good brand to go for, I hope that the article has helped you decide either way.
Summing up today’s review of Fossil watches and settling the “is Fossil a good watch brand” debate once and for all, it’s fair to say that the American watchmaker is indeed a name you can trust.
Not without a reason, the brand is seen as one of the most valuable fashion watch providers out there. Fossil offers a wide array of watch designs matching the latest (as well as vintage) trends on the market.
Putting a great focus on the exterior, a large portion of Fossil timepieces look way above their price tag and are likely to be subjects of many compliments. Feature-packed large dials and a wide selection of genuine leather straps are some of the brand’s biggest characteristics.
Certainly, the movements aren’t as mouth-watering. However, considering the ultra-moderate pricing and the definition of a fashion watch, we have no right to expect them to be. That said, they still provide more than acceptable value, especially the Japanese-made quartz calibers.
Each watch brand targets a different audience. It’s clear Fossil watches are designed for those who first and foremost appreciate the unique style and head-turning design, rather than ultra-complex mechanisms. As previously mentioned in this Fossil watches review, the true quality of the brand should be determined by how it fares against competitors in the same price category. In this aspect, Fossil is easily one of the top choices.
If you feel like there are some points that this Fossil brand review hasn’t covered, please let me know in the comment section below. Also, I’d like to hear about your own experience with the watchmaker. Let’s interact!