Is Fossil A Good Watch Brand? Fossil Watch Review

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Selecting a wristwatch may not be the easiest task to complete. The number of brands and models looking back at you from numerous online stores can make your head spin. However, one brand that particularly keeps popping up everywhere is Fossil.

This famous brand seems to have a watch for every taste, boasting collections from modest dress wristwear to flamboyant skeleton watches. Although Fossil is known as every other widespread brand name, it’s still not considered on par with famous Swiss or Japanese watch companies.

So, is Fossil a good watch brand for everyday use and is it worth buying? Find out from the following guide on Fossil watches.

Is Fossil a good watch brand

The Birth of Fossil Watches

The American company Fossil is known for its ultra-stylish and flashy watches

When you wanted to buy a watch in the 1980s, you had literally two options – to go for a reliable but pricey classic Swiss watch, or settle with a cheap-looking piece of plastic. The market had a considerable gap for attractive yet affordable timepieces. 

With the arrival of Fossil in 1984, though, the stores started to fill with eye-catching watches that also boasted attractive prices. Thus the stream of fashion watches we have today got an ignition precisely from the emergence of the Fossil brand.

During the years, Fossil has taken the leading role in providing fashionable wristwear but is not only limited to that. All kinds of accessories, jewelry, and leathers also come from Fossil. However, the watches are still their primary source of income.

Fossil Group & Sub-Brands

Fossil Group consists of numerous world-famous fashion brands. Over the years, they’ve complemented the portfolio of brands with Skagen Denmark, Zodiac, Relic, Misfit, Michele Watch, and WSI. 

Fossil also makes licensed accessories for other recognized brands, such as Diesel, Emporio Armani, DKNY, Puma, Burberry, Michael Kors, and Armani Exchange. So, if you are an owner of an Armani or Diesel watch, you’re now aware that your timepiece has been designed, manufactured, and distributed by no other than Fossil Group.

Armani watch by Fossil Group
Armani Exchange by Fossil

Recently, the most significant addition to Fossil’s portfolio has been Misfit. The acquirement that cost $260 million had a challenging purpose. By integrating innovation into fashion, they’re now manufacturing smartwatches, a field dominated by the tech-mammoths of Apple and Samsung. Albeit the fierce competition, Fossil has justified the risk and are doing considerably well.

But how has Fossil climbed the ladder of success so rapidly when being in the watch industry for a mere couple of decades? To answer the question, we need to peek into the short yet remarkable history.

Brief History

The Fossil brand was founded by a former ticket brokerage business owner Tom Kartsotis. The ignition for the idea came from his older brother who suggested him to import affordable fashion watches from the Far East for selling them in the US. 

Tom immediately hired a manufacturer in Hong Kong and subsequently ordered the first batch of watches. With the inclusion of a designer Lynne Stafford, who took on the design job of unique retro wristwear for Fossil, the sales rocketed. 

The Americans appreciated the innovative style so much that the brand had to expand its product line and manufacturing volume. Fossil started a new line of cheaper watches under the Relica brand, and also catered the accessory market with handbags, leather wallets, leather belts, etc.

The diversity of styles reached new heights with the collaboration of a renowned designer Philippe Starck. The watch line became to be known as Starck and featured ultra-modern design, which was a genuine hit amongst fashionistas. 

The beginning of the 21st century saw Fossil acquire two European watch companies – the Swiss brands of Zodiak and Michele Watch. The outcome of the business resulted in Swiss presence in the brand, opening doors to new possibilities and acquaintances. 

In 2012, Fossil Group bought the Danish watch company Skagen for an astonishing $237 million. The European conquest didn’t stop there when they opened the upscale Fossil Swiss line in 2013. The watches were Swiss-made with full manufacturing process taking place in Switzerland.

Today, the line is out of production, but Swiss quality is not missing from Fossil Group – today it is present in its sub-brands of Zodiac and Michele. The acquired knowledge and practice are used in other lines as well.

One of the recent landmarks in Fossil’s success has been the acquisition of technology company Misfit. The smartwatches Fossil launched with the knowledge of the tech-brand have been a hit, even winning the Fashion Tech Collection of the Year award in 2016.

The road to success has been truly astonishing. What started as a simple importing business for the Greek entrepreneur in the 1980s, has resulted in Fossil’s rise to becoming the most recognized fashion watch conglomerate in the world.

The heartwarming fact all but decorating that fantastic achievement is the story behind the world-famous name Fossil. The founder, with his older brother, used to call their father with this nickname – Fossil. What could be a better dedication to a Dad?! 

Where Are Fossil Watches Made?

As we already found out, Fossil started its journey to the top from the Hong Kong factories where the first batches of wristwear were assembled. The strong relationship with Asian manufacturing has been present since.

Chinese-made Fossil watch with dark blue face

However, the production is not limited to Asia alone.

With several acquisitions and licensing agreements over the years, the Group has achieved a reach in all the major regions in the world that all contribute to producing different parts of wristwatches. Due to the sub-brands having various manufacturing locations, the options are ample for the Fossil Group. 

For example, the high-end mechanical timepieces are generally made in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan. China, on the other hand, is a country where Fossil’s cheaper-end collections are produced. Therefore, it would be quite accurate to say that Fossil Group’s watches are made internationally.

However, when talking about the Fossil line alone, not the Group, the bulk of the watches are made in China.

Nevertheless, we should not forget the Swiss, German, and Japanese influences the brand possesses.

The watches can’t be called Chinese-made in its straightest meaning, because the separating factor between any other cheap Made in China wristwear and Fossil’s Chinese production lies strictly in the international experience. Underestimating that fact would be wrong.

Materials & Watch Calibers

Another factor helping to evaluate the quality is the materials and movements used in the Fossil line. 

The cases are almost exclusively made of stainless steel. It is an appreciated and reliable metal.

Straps are of stainless steel, silicon, and top-grain leather. The latter, by the way, is regarded as one of the quality trademarks of the Fossil brand. Let’s not forget that one field of Fossil’s operations involves the production of leather accessories. Therefore, the quality of leather watches don’t come as a surprise.

black Fossil chronograph watch with quartz movement
Fossil Coachman

Fossil employs two types of movements – mechanical and quartz. 

The cheaper-end lines, including Fossil, use Chinese mechanical movements. Although they understandably do not possess the quality that a typical Swiss movement would. Still, according to the feedback from customers, the accuracy is satisfactory, while the mechanism’s build-up seems to have enough credentials for decent quality. 

When it comes to quartz watches, Fossil watches employ affordable yet highly recognized Japanese movements. And as it is with mechanical equivalents, the higher-end quartz models often come with exclusive Swiss mechanisms. 

A compelling case with Fossil is that it came out with its own movement, called Twist. The mechanism has, indeed, a twist in its operation when timekeeping is based on quartz but second’s hand runs on the motion of the wearer, i.e. automatically.

In reality, it’s nothing more than just a little bit of flair added to a wristwatch, posing no functional advancement for the movement. Neither does it receive overly positive feedback, which has led to cutbacks of the watches with that feature.

All in all, there’s nothing to complain about neither material nor movement-wise. After all, it would be too much to expect an affordable timepiece to carry a mechanism worth hundreds of dollars. But what is relevant is that for the value Fossil sells its wristwear, the quality is up to expectations.

Owner’s Feedback

Feedback from the actual owners is mostly positive. The looks of the watches impress people the most. A modern and fresh approach in design has been the driving factor for the brand. Thus the cooperation with several renowned designers has paid off indeed.

fashionably designed Fossil wristwatch on a man's wrist

The reliability, on the contrary, draws some dissenting opinions.

Several buyers claim their metal straps to be substandard, while others have had problems with the precision of mechanical wristwear. The Twist movement also seems to be troublesome with the second hand often malfunctioning. 

However, positive reviews are strongly prevailing when the majority of buyers find the quality of their watches more than satisfying. Some have even claimed their Fossil watch to last for over 10-15 years now without any serious concerns.  

The most repetitive line of words that sticks out from customer reviews is that “You get what you pay for.” And so it is! A timepiece worth $100-$200 can’t compete with $1,000-$2,000 equivalents in terms of quality and reliability.

Moreover, a fashion watch is precisely called this way for a good reason – to express the style of the brand that is relevant in the time being, while providing the quality for the money paid. 


Fossil is the most known and valued fashion brand there is. With the number of models circling on the market, they’re also the brand with one of the broadest arrays of different styles, catering the needs of a lot of people. 

The characteristics of Fossil suit the best for the younger audience. Flashy and modern apparel represents up-to-date style that attracts fashion-hungry individuals, rather than quality-obsessed aficionados.

Fossil watch review

Quality, in fact, is one of the factors why many opt for proven brands with long watchmaking history instead. The likes of Citizen and Seiko don’t boast flashy additions but are ahead of Fossil in terms of quality standards. 

The reliability of Chinese watchmaking you’ll find from the Fossil line is not yet consistent enough for a blindfolded trust. However, the standards keep improving with every year. 

Testifying to this is the fact that more and more recognized European and Japanese wristwear brands have already been importing some parts of their watches from the Chinese production line.

Cases, dials, and sapphire glass are the top components coming from that part of the world. This trend will, in no doubt, considerably increase rather than decrease in the following decades.

So, Is Fossil a Good Watch Brand?

Fossil is an affordable watch brand that offers decent quality standards for the price point.

In the majority of cases, quality determines the price point at which the watches are being sold. For the $80-$200 the Fossil wristwear sell, they’re definitely money well spent.

Fossil chronograph on a wrist

Many of you may not agree on that when way more acknowledged and history-rich brands at the same price point provide much better reliability than Fossil. Can’t argue against it.

At the end of the day, fashion-obsessed people will go for Fossil over the rather modest-looking acknowledged brands, no matter how much reliability they provide.

Now that we’ve so extensively praised the apparel of Fossil wristwear, it’s about time to have a look at the most notable collections the brand has to offer.

Fossil Watches

Fossil watches boast casual, minimalist, dive inspired, smartwatches, and chronograph feature timepieces. Let’s have a closer look at them!

Fossil Townsman

fashion watch with open circle on the dial
Fossil Townsman ME3061

The most popular line of casual wristwear is the Townsman.

Generally equipped with genuine brown leather, the watches mostly come with chronograph function and 3-hand dial. Roman numerics are often used instead of Arabic ones, combining modern and vintage styles into unique appearance.

Townsman watches come in either quartz or automatic movement. You’ll find some examples of the Twist multifunction mechanism as well.

Mechanical watches often boast a skeletonized dial with wheels and gears visible.

Fossil Minimalist

black-dialled watch with brown leather straps
Fossil Minimalist FS5305

The Minimalist line provides eye-catching yet straightforward watches. Being perfect dress watches, they all have a slim case and easily readable dial. Brown leather is a cross-cutting characteristic, but stainless steel straps are also prevalent. 

All the watches come 5 ATM water-resistant and run on a quartz movement.

Unlike many other dress wristwatches, Fossil has them considerably large when 44mm case diameter is a standard size.

Fossil Smartwatches

The acquisition of Misfit in 2015 brought a new side to Fossil’s collection. The smartwatches, genuine and hybrid, are the new bestsellers for the brand.

The three-pusher smartwatches are powered with Wear OS by Google and comprise of an activity tracker, GPS, heart rate tracking, and several useful functions for everyday needs.

Fossil hybrid smartwatch
Fossil Gen 5 The Carlyle

They are compatible with both iPhone and Android phones. Though not at the same level as Apple, Fossil’s smartwatch’s strength is that it sticks out from the crowd for being different. The price is also considerably lower.

Fossil’s hybrid smartwatches look like traditional watches, but function like a smartwatch. If the appearance of a widely universal smartwatch isn’t your cup of tea, consider the hybrid version. Fossil offers an excellent selection in terms of styles, from casual leather watches to full metal timepieces.

The functions in the hybrids are similar to the ones in the smartwatches. Battery life, however, is much better, able to last up to two weeks compared to a day or two for an original smart equivalent.

Hybrid watches don’t have touchscreen face but make use of pushers instead. The dial is monochrome, and the information is visualized via e-ink technology, which is the same as in e-readers.

The interchangeable straps make the hybrid watches customizable, and are generally made from silicone and leather.

Fossil FB-Line

Full metal Fossil dive watch with black face
Fossil FS5652

Fossil’s FB-line that consists of FB-01, FB-02, and FB-03 watches are dive-inspired pieces. Why simply inspired?

Because they are not for deepwater expeditions, but for giving the appearance of a genuine diver’s watch.

Nevertheless, water resistance is still up to 100m (330ft), in that perfect for swimming, showering, and snorkeling. And just as it is with other collections, the array of styles is extensive.

The watches feature a bezel, but it’s only a visual enhancement and can’t be used for time measurement. But what can be make use of are the glowing hands and indices on the dial when being in dark conditions. 

Although the FB-line watches aren’t exactly diving watches but instead fashion wristwear that simply have the looks of them, you’ll find many tickers resembling high-end dive wristwatches.

Fossil Grant

blue-faced Fossil chronograph watch
Fossil Grant FS5151

Fossil Grant watches offer appealing aesthetics with their chronograph subdials. They measure seconds, minutes, and hours, and can be operated through the two pushers at two and four o’clock. 

Roman numerals add a vintage touch to the line, while 5 ATM water resistance, quartz movement, and stainless steel case make them long-lasting fashion watches. 

A blue-faced dial, stainless steel case, and brown leather strap is the trademark combination of the line. However, you’ll come across with wristwatches that possess a rosewood dial and an all-black appearance as well.

Warranty & General Features

All Fossil watches are warranted for two years and cover materials and manufacturing defects of movement, hands, and dial. It doesn’t cover any improper use, water damages, or defects in battery, case, crystal, and straps. 

General feedback regarding repairs is positive – the job is done quickly in substituting the components or simply shipping out a replacement watch. However, they don’t guarantee that you’ll receive the same model.

The reason for this is the rather short span of time the collections are available. A typical fashion brand as Fossil is, the models get substituted every couple of years. 

A nice gesture from Fossil is the packaging of watches which has become a trademark of the brand. First introduced in 1989, the tin boxes became so popular and appreciated that Fossil decided to continue the tradition and offer them to this day. This kind of packaging serves as a perfect gift to your loved ones.

Final Take

The question already received an answer earlier in this post, but to run it over again, then yes, Fossil is a good watch brand. Despite being in the industry for mere decades, the brand has established itself as the leading provider of fashionable and quality wristwatches, boasting a wide selection in numerous styles.

Moreover, Fossil took the bull by the horns when it entered the highly popular field of smartwatches, and has done well. Courage is what determines the success of a company – Fossil has plenty of that.

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Carl Pender

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