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Fossil Watches Overview - Are Fossil Watches Good?

Posted on October 14 2020

Fossil Watches


Fossil is a young brand founded in the mid-1980s. The Fossil Group owns a handful of other brands with Zodiac Watches probably being of most interest to watch fans. As a watch manufacturer, they produce watches for a selection of household names including, Burberry, DKNY, Emporio Armani, Michael Kors and Adidas. Although positioned as a fashion watch brand they do have design studios in Biel, Switzerland and manufacturing facilities in China.

The Fossil story, although short, is definitely of interest to watch aficionados as it includes American and Swiss brands and Chinese watchmaking knowledge.

The History of Fossil Watches


Founder Tom Kartsotis created the company with a relatively simple aim. To import fashion watches from China to retail in the US. Having founded the brand to import watches, along with his brother, he had soon begun importing leather goods too.

The company’s growth was rapid and in quick succession they acquired Zodiac watches, high-end Swiss brand Michele Watch and retail chain Watch Station. They’d later add Danish brand Skagen at a cost of $225M and Misfit, a wearable technology company, for $260M.

The company now retails, watches, wearables powered by Google, handbags, jewellery and leather goods.

 


 

Are Fossil Watches Good?


In my post about fashion watches, I was keen to dig out the best examples of watches produced by fashion houses. Fossil stood out as being the only fashion brand I mentioned that had their own watchmaking factory. What is more, they have design studios in Switzerland, close to Rolex’s headquarters. This, along with the ownership of the Swiss Zodiac Watches, has allowed them to produce Swiss-made ‘Fossil Swiss’ watches.

As mentioned above, they now produce watches for other fashion brands so have moved from an importer of watches to a large scale manufacturer. Within the Fossil range, they have some mechanical models, but the focus is primarily on quartz models. Recently, they’ve introduced Smartwatches and other wearable technology.

The designs can be good and the workmanship is as you’d expect from watches that are very affordable. Tom Kartsotis has more recently been responsible for the launch of American watch brand Shinola - watches that are definitely well-made.

Are Fossil Watches Ethical and Eco-Friendly?


I’ve looked at eco-friendly and ethical watch brands and noticed that Fossil has it’s own foundation that supports young people around the globe. They also work to motivate and mentor young women through community partnerships.

As for sustainability, they are very specific. To quote their website “We aspire to design the world’s most sustainable watches and accessories”. To do this they have set targets for the design, production and packaging of watches, having begun to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water use and they aim to remove all virgin plastic from their supply chain.

Best Fossil Watches


Fossil has been featured a couple of my posts in the past. I’ve selected my current favourites, and those that I believe have the best designs. I’ve focused a little on the divers and retro-styled models as I think that this is where the brand does best.

I normally favour mechanical watches, but most Fossil mechanical pieces tend to have skeleton designs - not my first choice. So below is a selection that highlights the brand at it’s best - most being quartz models. I’ve started with a watch that I first featured in this post about Omega Speedmaster alternatives.

 

Fossil Decker CH2600 Watch

 

This watch really does remind me of Omega’s moonwatch. It’s not a direct homage but is certainly very similar in its styling. And really, it’s the appearance that attracted me to this watch. It is a mid-sized, racing chronograph with real retro charm.
It has a busy dial, which manages to not appear cluttered. The hands are distinctive and the date is neatly tucked away at 4 o'clock.

In terms of specifications, there is nothing that particularly jumps out as a noticeable positive or negative. It has a quartz movement, mineral crystal and 100M water resistance. All as I’d expect for a watch around the £150 mark.

Fossil Decker CH2600

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

Fossil Bannon BQ2506 Watch

 

The post I’ve written based on the colour of watches was this one about Green models. Maybe it’s the Rolex Hulk, or one of my favourite Seiko’s, the Alpinist. But for whatever reason, I really like green on a timepiece.

The Bannon is a cheap and cheerful, green diving-style watch. I say diving-style as it only has minimal water resistance. It’s quite large with a 45mm diameter, but reasonably thin at 11mm. The 22mm bracelet is the correct size for a watch with this slightly larger case.

The green dial is complemented by the two-tone green and gold bezel making for quite a colourful design. It’s otherwise fairly spartan with simple indices and the text on the dial kept to a minimum. I like the pared-down look. At well under £100 it makes a good beater or every day desk-diver.

Fossil Bannon BQ2506

  • 45mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 

 

Fossil Starmaster LE1084 Watch

 

This next model is part of Fossil’s Archival Series. The Starmaster watches were originally released in the mid-1990s and are similar to Timex’s Indiglo line - there is a button above the crown to light up the face.

There have been some really interesting Starmaster models in the past - have a look at ebay for used examples. This new release is a limited edition and the variant that I’ve highlight, with the black case, has a run of 875 pieces.

Aesthetically it’s a straightforward piece. Either a field or military watch depending on your interpretation. Other than the illumination, there’s nothing but the three hands and numbers. That, along with the black case, makes for a very cool and subdued look.

At 38mm it's maybe a little on the small side, but that is a matter personal preference.

Fossil Starmaster LE1084

  • 38mm Diameter
  • 10mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 

Fossil FB-02 FS5687 Watch

 

This is a substantial dive watch. It’s larger again than the Bannon, and with an improved water resistance of 100M. That size could be a deal breaker - 48mm is very large, particularly with the addition of a 24mm stainless steel bracelet. It's a full 10mm wider than the Starmaster.

If the size isn’t an issue then this is a pretty good watch for very little money. Like a number of the Fossil watches featured, there’s nothing innovative about the design. It’s recognisable as a dive watch in the vein of a Submariner.

At the risk of repeating myself, it has the specifications that I’d expect at this price-point. The features I’d want for a watch just about hitting three figures are there. The mineral crystal, water-resistance and Japanese quartz movement. Other features that are missing, like say a signed crown, aren’t usually available at this price-point.

It’s a tidy watch. Again, ideal for everyday wear if you want something just a little bigger and more chunky.

Fossil FB-02 FS5687

  • 48mm Diameter
  • 15mm Thick
  • 24mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

 

Fossil Forrester F5589 Watch

 

I’ve featured a Forrester model on the blog before. It’s a style that appeals to me. There’s something American about the design. Like a vintage Railroad watch (more here).

There are some colourful variations in the Forrester collection, but I prefer this more authentically vintage version. The impression is of attention to detail. The small circular date window, for example, is a real nod to the past. As is the under-sized crown.

The font choice, style of hands and simple leather strap all consolidate this. It works really well and isn’t a typical offering from a high-street brand. The only compromise with modernity is the 42mm case diameter - a little bigger than I’d like.

Fossil Forrester FS5589

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 2mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 

Fossil Ltd Edition FB-GMT LE1100 Watch

 

This is the most rugged and highest specification model on my list. It’s another substantial diver, this time with a legitimate diving water resistance. Again, it’s a case of having a common standardized design rather anything particularly unique.

Where it differs to most divers is in the choice of case material. As I pointed out here, Titanium is a great metal to use in watch construction. It’s half the weight of Stainless steel and non-toxic to the human body. The darker colouring on this model also looks great.

As with the other Fossil models here, this is quartz powered. There’s a GMT hand for telling the time in a second time-zone and the bezel has the ‘Batman’ colours popularised by Rolex. The grey accents on the hands are nice and compliment the titanium case.

Fossil Ltd Ed FB-GMT LE1100

  • 45mm Diameter
  • 14mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Titanium
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 

Fossil Neutra Smartwatch FTW1177

 

Remember where I noted that Fossil acquired a company that produced wearable tech? Here’s an example of the application.

This vintage styled chronograph is actually a smartwatch. It’s Bluetooth enabled and among the many functions are an Activity Tracker and the ability to control your music. It has notifications for your calendar, emails, texts and the like. The sub-dial lists the smart functions and the pushers control them. 

There are a number of attractive chronographs in the Neutra collection, but this restrained yellow/cream dialled version is the one that caught my eye. For all the modern technology, the watch retains a classic design, complete with a dark brown leather strap.

Fossil Neutra Smartwatch FTW1177

  • 45mm Diameter
  • 13.5mm Thick
  • 21mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 

Conclusion

 

For a young company, Fossil has achieved a lot. Beginning as an importer of cheap fashion watches, they’ve now got a foothold in both the Swiss and Chinese watchmaking industries. In Zodiac, they’ve acquired a heritage Swiss watch brand, and with Misfit, a cutting-edge tech business. They're well represented in both ends of the market - the traditional and the new.

Personally, I’d like to see more mechanical watches, and maybe less of the larger cases. But overall, we’re talking about watches that often retail for less than £100. So we have to take that into account when judging the brand. So far I’ve been impressed with the Fossil range, particularly the sheer variety of styles and functions. If you disagree or have anything to contribute, comment below.

 

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