Fossil is well known for its fashion accessories, especially nicely designed watches. It has a great price too. But is Fossil a luxury watch brand?
Fossil is not a luxury watch brand but an affordable fashion watch brand. Fossil watches are not made in-house, nor does it use their own in-house movement. The watches are also not made with premium materials and are not expensive, with most models not exceeding $600.
In this post, we will look deeper and determine if Fossil is a luxury watch brand or not. We will also examine the qualities of a luxury watch brand and answer some broad questions about Fossil that everybody seems to be asking.
Do understand that we are looking at Fossil as a watch brand, not the Fossil Group. Fossil as a watch brand is part of the Fossil Group, a watch group with watch brands such as Zodiac, Michele, Relic, and Skagen.
We have also covered Fossil as a watch brand extensively in another article, so please check it out.
What Makes A Watch Brand Luxury?
In general, luxury watch brands tend to stand out from their affordable cousins in the following areas:
- In-House Movements and Technology
- Brand Image
READ ALSO: What Makes A Watch, A Luxury Watch?
Materials: High-end watchmakers typically use more expensive materials for their watch parts. Bronze, titanium, and gold alloys are among these materials. Luxury watch brands also tend to use top-grain leather straps, diamonds, or mother of pearl.
Assembly: Luxury watchmakers prefer to assemble their watches in-house and apply a higher degree of hand assembly on their watches. Rolex, for example, has openly stated that all of their watches are hand-assembled in-house. This allows for improved quality control and higher-performing watches.
In-House Movements and Technology: Luxury watchmakers frequently develop their own in-house movements to better control the performance of their watches. Some luxury watchmakers also developed proprietary technology to help their watches stand out from the crowd.
Design: Luxury watch brands often have signature watches or a distinct design language that helps them stand out. These luxury watches also serve as a de facto standard for future watch designs. For example, when everyone sees a new rectangular watch, they immediately think of the Cartier Tank. Most will also start comparing the new watch with the Cartier Tank.
Homages: Luxury watch brands frequently have homages created based on their popular models. This is because these luxury watches are coveted by many people who are also unable to afford them. As a result, some other watchmakers will produce watches that resemble the original and sell them at a lower price.
Fakes: Luxury watch brands are frequently plagued by clone and imitation watches. Because the selling price is high and many people want the watch but cannot afford it, fake watchmakers step in to fill the void. It is, however, unlawful, and hard to service.
Brand Image: Luxury watch brands have a brand image of high class, exquisiteness, prestige, and, of course, luxury. Sponsorships with people, events, or media outlets that project the same image help maintain and cultivate the image.
This is why Rolex sponsors tennis and golf tournaments and not football or wrestling. Many luxury watchmakers also advertise in the Wall Street Journal or The Economist.
Prices: Due to the high production costs of luxury watches, their prices tend to be higher. Hand assembly and more expensive materials increased costs. Furthermore, the higher price tag keeps the watch out of reach for many, maintaining the image of prestige and exclusivity.
Is Fossil Considered A Luxury Watch Brand?
Fossil cannot be considered a luxury watch brand but an affordable fashion watch brand. Fossil does not make its watches in-house or develop in-house watch movements. Fossil also has a brand image of being cheap and convenient fashion watches and mainly starts below $500.
|Characteristics||Luxury Watch Brands||Fossil||Pass?|
|Materials||May use 904L steel, titanium, precious metals, gemstones||Stainless steel, mineral crystal||❌|
|Assembly||Mostly hand assembled||No such claims||❌|
|Movement||Almost all have in-house movement||Uses third-party movements||❌|
|Proprietary Technology||Almost all have proprietary technology||Hybrid watches||✅|
|Design||Often iconic, and sets trends.||No iconic desings||❌|
|Homages||Have homages made after their models||None. Creates homages instead||❌|
|Fakes & Imitation||Suffers from fakes and imitation||Suffering from fakes and imitations.||✅|
|Brand Image||Prestige, exclusivity, class||Carries a ‘affordable, fashionable’ image||❌|
|Prices||At least four-figure.||Has watches as low as $100||❌|
When reviewed, Fossil does not use premium materials in its watches. Most models are made with 316L stainless steel casing and given mineral crystals. Some ladies’ watches also carry faux diamonds.
There are no indications of models using materials such as titanium, gold alloy, genuine diamonds, mother of pearl, or alligator/crocodile leather. A large majority of the watches are also given quartz movement, with only a tiny percentage running automatic movements.
These made sense since the selling price is low. To ensure some profitability, Fossil needed to be more creative in its use of materials.
However, some of the highest-priced models seem to have some ceramics on their bracelets, which could be good.
Fossil does not seem to make any claims about hand assembly on their website. They also do not claim to produce their watches in-house.
The fact of the matter is that Fossil manufactures its watches in China. However, this does not apply to all watches within the Fossil group. Fossil Group is a company that owns many other watch brands, and Fossil is one of them.
Some of Fossil groups’ watches are designed and made in Switzerland, for example, Zodiac and Michele.
This again made sense as manufacturing in China helps to lower costs and places their production facility close to other suppliers, such as movement makers and box packaging makers.
Optimizing production helps to lower costs and eventually helps Fossil to be able to offer competitive pricing for their watches.
In-House Movements and Technology
Fossil does not seem to use any in-house movement. Instead, it uses a mixture of third-party movements from multiple sources.
This is evident as some watch models carry the ‘Japan Movt’ label on the dial or caseback, while some do not. Members of watch communities have discovered that the Japanese movements in Fossil watches tend to be from Miyota or Seiko.
There are also watches with Chinese movements. These watches would probably not carry the ‘Japan Movt.’ Fossil watches probably use movements from Seagull, as they have been in partnership since 2009.
For Fossil watches with automatic movements, the movements are also either Miyota or Seagull.
Fossil also does not pioneer any specific technology to help advance the science of timekeeping. However, it is starting to make a name for being the leader in the concept of hybrid watches.
A hybrid watch tends to look like a traditional watch and has functions similar to smartwatches. Usually, you will see the watch carrying analog hands and hour markers, but with a screen to display information.
Fossil’s designs are beautiful, trendy, and fashionable. Their watch offerings cover various watch types, from dress to dive to pilot and chronographs.
However, most of these watches are best called ‘inspired’ watches, as they have the look, but might not be able to function as one.
For example, you might see some dive-inspired Fossil watches with a water resistance of only 50M (165ft). Dive watches should have at least 100M to cover basic underwater activities.
ALSO READ: Best Dive Watches Under $100
This is because Fossil is, first and foremost, a fashion watch brand. This means placing more emphasis on the looks, with functionality second. The approach is different from more ‘serious’ watchmaking companies.
Fossil also does not seem to have any iconic watches that stand out and become their flagship model. There is nothing from Fossil as iconic as the Submariner for Rolex or the Speedmaster for Omega.
As a result, Fossil does not seem to be pushing the designs of watches forward but instead just designing great-looking watches that fit current design trends. This approach is akin to producing radio-friendly music that sounds ‘normal’ and does not try anything new.
However, such an approach is considered ‘safe,’ as the design is not too eccentric.
Fossil’s lack of iconic design and affordability resulted in no known, popular homages. There are no known homages for Fossil’s watches available in the market.
Homages tend to appear when a watch model is popular, has a unique design, and is expensive to the point that it becomes unaffordable for the majority of the population. Without these situations, making homages makes no sense.
For example, the Patek Philippe Nautilus has a unique design, viewed as a ‘grail’ watch. It is priced so expensively that you need more than an arm and a leg to buy it.
Hence, many homages appear, from indirect homages such as the Tissot PRX to almost identical ones from Cadisen.
Fossil has no models that fulfill the three criteria. Hence no homages appear for any of its models.
ALSO READ: The Truth About Homages
Despite being an affordable brand, Fossil is surprisingly suffering from fakes and clones.
This is probably due to its popularity and ease of cloning. Fossil watches tend to be mechanically simpler, with primary quartz or automatic movements inside. Fossil’s main focus most of the time is on getting the designs right.
Copying designs are much easier for counterfeiters, as they just need to measure, create molds, adjust the right color, and they can begin production.
Many models also do not have exhibition caseback, meaning they do not have to physically alter the movement inside to match the original.
In theory, all these make the cost of cloning Fossil watches lower, and counterfeiters can sell cheaper and still make a profit.
Fossil’s brand image is not luxury. It focuses on projecting the image of being fashion-forward, energetic, young, and exciting. It projects itself as a watch brand for the young and trendy.
This is far different from most luxury watches that try to project the image of stability, exclusivity, prestige, and class on their watches.
You certainly would not wear a Fossil with a suit to go to the office, you wear a Fossil with a checked flannel, and you go skating with it.
You wear a Fossil to go into a university lecture hall as a student, not as a lecturer lecturing. That calls for a luxury watch such as a Grand Seiko, Longines, or Maurice Lacroix.
Fossil also never tries to project an image of luxury. They never tried to sponsor any events, celebrities, or publications that project a similar image. You would be much more likely to see a Fossil ad in Seventeen Magazine than in Wall Street Journal.
Fossil’s status as an affordable watch brand is also accurately reflected in its pricing. Fossil’s target demographic is younger people, which places them in competition with other popular fashion watch brands such as Swatch or Invicta.
Fossil watches’ prices are also similar to these companies. In fact, when browsing their offerings on their official online store, none of the watches are priced above $500.
The most expensive model of the 266 men’s watches is the Everett Ceramic, at $300. The lowest-priced model is the Copeland, at $120.
Prices like this made sense, as younger consumers have less disposable income to sink $5,000 on a watch. Older consumers would be more likely to do so.
When you compare this pricing against the used price of luxury watches, you can see clearly how Fossil is not a luxury watch brand.
|Watch Brand||Price Range|
|Patek Philippe||$8,800 – $478,087 (Used)|
|Rolex||$1,783 – $211,500 (Used)|
|Omega||$156 – $50,660 (Used)|
|Fossil||$100 – $600|
If Fossil Owned By Michael Kors?
Fossil is not owned by Michael Kors. Fossil and Michael Kors watches are part of the Fossil Group. This company owns many watch brands such as Fossil, Michael Kors, Skagen, Zodiac, and Michele. Fossil produces and sells Michael Kors watches under license from the brand owner.
Fossil has arrangements with many brands to produce and market watches for them. These brands include Michael Kors, Diesel, DKNY, Puma, Tory Burch, and Kate Spade.
Usually, the collaboration works with these companies designing watches and then passing the production to Fossil. At times, Fossil might be designing the watches as well.
For marketing, it could be that the brands market these watches themselves, or Fossil could also help out by providing marketing channels and after-sales support.
When you purchase a Michael Kors watch, you basically are purchasing a Fossil, with the label being Michael Kors.
Is Fossil Swiss?
Fossil is not Swiss. Fossil is an American watch company with some involvement in Switzerland. Fossil watches could be designed in Biel, Switzerland, but manufacturing is done outside, usually in Asia. However, some brands under Fossil Group, such as Zodiac and Michele, as good Swiss watches.
When viewing Fossil as a watch brand, it has little relation with Switzerland. The design of Fossil’s watches could take place in either the USA or Switzerland, but production is usually done in Asia.
If there is a Swiss Made Fossil, you should see the label ‘Swiss Made’ on Fossil’s dial, which at the time of writing, does not exist.
However, if looking at Fossil as a watch group, several brands under the group are proper Swiss Made watches, for example, Zodiac and Michele. These watch companies have a long history, and they make their watches in Switzerland.
In fact, Fossil watch group even owns a Swiss movement maker company called the STP. STP stood for Swiss Technology Production and was founded in 2006.
STP might not be as popular as ETA or Sellita. Still, some watch companies are starting to use STP’s movement in their watches, for example, Eterna.
Are Fossil Watches Worth Collecting?
Fossil watches are not worth collecting if you are looking for price appreciation. Fossil watches do not hold value well, as they cannot generate large demand that outstrips supply. There is also a general lack of collectors for Fossil watches that helps to drive resale value.
For many watchmakers, the problem is that they are incapable of generating enormous quantities of demand.
The demand needs to be huge to the point that they cannot expand production to meet them without compromising quality.
Watches from prestigious brands such as Rolex and Audemars Piguet retain their worth exceptionally well because these pieces are in such high demand.
It is not odd to hear customers being placed on multi-year waiting lists for some of their models.
Customers who are impatient look for watches on the used market. This drives up the resale price, helping the watch model appreciate in price long-term.
Fossil watches probably have a higher demand than, say, Rolex. But Fossil is also a mass-manufactured watch brand. If there is a further rise in demand, Fossil can quickly further increase its production to match it.
Unlike Rolex, which applies a high level of hand assembly by certified watch masters, Rolex’s ability to increase production on short notice is limited.
Plus, Fossil’s affordable price also means that if there is high demand for their watches, people would buy new rather than used.
Combined, all these factors resulted in used Fossil watches’ inability to hold value well. Fossil is best considered a watch you buy, enjoy, and discard when it is no longer functional.
Is Fossil A Cheap Watch?
Fossil watches can be cheap and affordable, starting from $30. Its higher-end models, in general, do not cross $600. This places Fossil within the price range of other affordable watch brands such as Casio and Swatch.
The word ‘cheap’ is relative, and such might not make a good measurement of purchasing power.
For example, a $250 Fossil Townsman might be a luxury purchase if you make minimum wage. On another angle, if you make $150,000 a year, a $350 Fossil Everett is dirt cheap.
The best way is to measure Fossil’s prices compared to other watch brands and see where it is in terms of affordability and market segment.
Fossil’s pricing tends to be on par with many affordable fashion watch brands like Swatch or Invicta. It also has prices similar to more serious but affordable watchmakers such as Casio or Timex.
Therefore, it might be good to place Fossil as an affordable watch brand rather than using the word ‘cheap.’