Is Fossil Ready For An $895 Swiss Automatic Watch?

Is Fossil Ready For An $895 Swiss Automatic Watch?

Is Fossil Ready For An $895 Swiss Automatic Watch? Watch Releases

A few years ago, I used to joke that you'd never see an article about Fossil on aBlogtoWatch. So, this is actually the very first one. Yeah, I know that sounds snobby, but what exactly was I going to write? "Here is an $80 watch that is a cheap recreation of something else you really ought to buy. But with Fossil, you have the convenience of Macy's." As a business, Fossil is a fantastic money-making machine. Proudly American, the Texas-based company is actually in the business of retail product placement before they are in the market of making watches. That is at least from the perspective of what they are good at business-wise. Though, over the years, their ability to make decent watches improved (a bit). Given what I know and what I am used to, it is just hard for me to take Fossil timepieces seriously as something I'd wear - just being honest. Though for many non-watch snobs who wear these - bless 'em. At least they got watches on.

They may not have earned a spot on my wrist yet, but Fossil surprised the hell out of me when they recently debuted a new collection of "Swiss Made" watches. The collection thematically reminds me of the Burberry Britain watches. Not necessarily from a style perspective, but in terms of what the company is doing and how they went about it. We have yet to see these Fossil Swiss watches in the wild, but it is only a matter of time. So how do they stack up?

Is Fossil Ready For An $895 Swiss Automatic Watch? Watch Releases

The Fossil Swiss collection consists of three models, each with a few versions. I am focusing exclusively on the mechanical model called the Swiss Automatic. In addition, there are Swiss quartz versions in the Fossil Swiss Chronograph and Fossil Swiss Day + Date. The first thing that struck me about the Fossil Swiss collection was the incredible lack of substance. I mean the watches are decent enough, but they seem to be so committee-created that even the marketing copy lacks soul. It is just a collection of buzzwords and applicable terms. Like a cliche on Swiss watch brand advertising, the carefully made micro site on Fossil's website merely floats terms like "timeless" and "craftsmanship" in front of our eyes without so much as an attempt to explain how they are timeless or what craftsmanship even means in this context.

Having said that, I know that the average Fossil customer knows little about the watch industry, watches, etc... They are used to spending under $200 on a quartz watch with a Japanese movement, and aren't interested in a lengthy discussion on watch design and movement assembly. So then why the hell is Fossil making close to $1,000 watches with bland designs that their customer base has zero interest in? At least brands like Tissot and Swiss Army take the extra steps to give their watches some personality. Fossil does not even try to do that. I mean the name of these watches is "Fossil Swiss Automatic." Such a robotic naming scheme is cold and un-creative. Might as well just give them numbers.

Is Fossil Ready For An $895 Swiss Automatic Watch? Watch Releases

From a design perspective, the cases and dials aren't bad. Nothing to write home about, but classic and soothing to the eye in a vintage military sort of way. Looks like a cross between a Bell & Ross mixed with a lot of Swiss Army Victorinox DNA. There is some manner of luminant on the dials and the hour markers are applied - which is a positive. You get the distinct impression that Fossil wanted to come out the Swiss doors with a very safe design, do nothing particularly new, and see how it went. Though I still have no idea who the target demographic for these watches will be. At about half the price, they might be a strong buy.

Size-wise, the Fossil Swiss Automatic is rather on the modest side at 38mm wide in a steel case. There is also a version with a steel metal bracelet which isn't too bad. The design of the watch is really not objectionable (though a few extra millimeters on the case would have been good), it is just the overall lack of soul which gets to me. In terms of this much remarked upon Swiss movement, Fossil is equally unclear on where it comes from. They call it the caliber STP-1-11 which is nothing I've ever heard of. Visually it looks like an ETA 2824 automatic but I doubt Fossil was able to get many of those. I have a feeling it is some manner of 2824 clone. At least Fossil doesn't hide the view to it on the rear of the watch. So all-in-all there you have it: the first Fossil Swiss watch with a mystery Swiss movement, impotent messaging; an acceptably saleable style; and perhaps not nearly what a brand like Fossil could accomplish with its vast resources and experience. Price is $895.

Is Fossil Ready For An $895 Swiss Automatic Watch? Watch Releases

Case: Stainless steel, 38mm
316L solid stainless steel case
Sapphire double dome crystal with AR04 anti reflective coating
Case back: Screwed down with K1 crystal exhibition window
Dial: Blue
Curved dial with black velvet finish
Super white lumi
White printing
Movement: Automatic
STP-1-11 Swiss Made Movement
Self winding Mechanical
Date function
Power Reserve: 46 h/Std/h
26 jewels
Strap: Brown leather strap with buckle
20mm tapering to 18mm

What do you think?
  • I love it! (4)
  • Interesting (1)
  • Classy (1)
  • I want it! (1)
  • Thumbs up (0)
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  • Ulysses31

    From a visual standpoint I find them rather attractive, especially the blue dial and gold case combo.  Slap any established Swiss brand name on the dial in place of Fossil and I think it would be received more positively, and I guess that’s the main problem Fossil will have with something like this – their brand is a ball and chain.  They have a reputation for producing cheap trendy watches for those who care very little about the finer aspects of horology, and they’re not going to be trusted by those who do when they start to produce “quality” pieces.  You cannot pander to the masses who don’t mind strapping watches of mediocre quality to the wrist and then, after showing how low you’re willing to go to make a buck selling timepieces by the truckload, try to woo those who saw through your gameplan from the start and passed you by.  
    If they had started from the high-end and worked their way down people would be saying “Oh, that’s half the price of the usual stuff they sell but hey – ‘It’s a Fossil!’ so it must still be good.”  As loathe as I am to mention them, Apple has this strategy.  The name is established via high-end products and then it’s the badge and reputation that sells the cut-down cheaper models.  Fossil have done the opposite of this and it’s going to be an uphill battle if they are serious about invading the luxury watch market. 
    At least they didn’t pull a Nixon and jack the price up to insane levels.  I’m trying to think of any reason why someone would buy one of these when they could get a perfectly good Tissot LeLocle for a lower price.

    • phillipchouzenoux

      Ulysses31 Very correct, the marketing aspect with a non-discript nameplate and what it represents. A hansome watch that I would never purchase it mirrors Invicta a most confusing although successful-Invicta makes one wonder why one would ever purchase an automatic and if you do not purchase aleast a dozen something is obviously wrong.

    • mandime

      Ulysses31 I agree, I’d take these any day of the week over Savoy, Nixon, Glam, etc. I don’t understand how these pieces are getting such a lukewarm review next to the afore mentioned monstrosities.

      • mandime Ulysses31 This is a great question and I am happy to take a stab at it. There are a range of “acceptable” designs that if brands produce them enough people will like them. That is what Fossil did. And I didn’t fault them for that but rather their way of communicating about the product. As far as those other brands go I have a soft spot for people who try to do things differently. It takes balls to produce a less than mainstream design, so I like it when some of these brands take risk. I want to reward that behavior unless the result is so obnoxiously terrible (BullToro).

  • OK, I’ll take a swing at this. The Fossil brand has always been a safe gift idea for Christmas, B-days, or for a Grad gift. Now that just about does it, well I shouldn’t be short about it either. There is “of course” a market for these watches, as I stated before, they’re just not for a serious watch collector. These watches would be ok to pick up in a thrift store for 1-3 dollars, but that is it.
    If you got a good look at the “movements” that go into the japanese models you sure wouldn’t pay $80 + for it.

  • flukesh

    First of all, I’m just kind of glad to see this happening. I mean, if one more person gets into horology because Uncle Bob buys them a ‘spensive Fossil watch for Christmas, awesome. Here’s the thing, I might have created an upmarket brand, i.e. Honda/Acura, Toyota/Lexus, etc. Say if they created a brand, let’s just call it “Lithic,” it could leverage Fossil’s business resources and channels, but take a swing at reinventing the brand by “pulling it up” vs. “pushing it up.” I could see a “Lithic” watch case next to standard Fossil watches pop up in Macy’s with a high-end gestalt. They might sell more regular Fossils due to the halo effect while creating a brand that either absorbs Fossil or is always the aspirational side of the company.

  • antjay

    I have to laugh when ever I hear a watch described as “timeless”. Somewhat defeats the purpose!

  • Zeitblom

    While I agree with most of what you said, I have to confess that I had a LOL moment when you wrote this:
    “It is just a collection of buzzwords and applicable terms.”
    Erm… have you looked at the meaningless mumbo-jumbo that high-end “manufactures” put out? “Heritage…. a timeless accord between history and haute horology…did I mention heritage?…haute merde de cheval….. blah blah blah.” Or look at the kind of bland empty verbiage that nearly all of your high-end interviewees excrete. Please: Fossil talks bullshit, but at least they talk *cheap* bullshit.

    • Ailurophile

      Zeitblom Someone ought to introduce the “haute merde de cheval” line just to see how many people would fall for it.

      • somethingnottaken

        AilurophileZeitblomI’m sure the name could be marketed as a youthful, in your face, and rebellious brand. If nothing else who wouldn’t be tempted to buy a “haute merde de cheval” watch for sheer amusement value?

        • Zeitblom

          somethingnottaken Ailurophile Zeitblom 
          Right, I will start the HMDC watch company asap. Now all I need is a celebrity endorsement…
          someone who appeals to the relevant demographic. Justin Bieber you say? Some dimwitted rapper? ….. maybe I’ll leave it to Fossil. Or do I mean Audemars Piguet?

    • Livefyre

      Zeitblom Someone ought to introduce the “haute merde de cheval” line just to see how many people would fall for it.

    • Zeitblom Yea, I am more than aware of the dribble that passes for press released and marketing copy in this industry as I have to consume it regularly. I used to complain a lot more and wrote a lot of articles simply amusingly complaining about how awful they are. Let’s just say that I chose poor Fossil to vent on the topic once again as this was such a stunningly simple and too the point example of empty text.

      • Zeitblom

        aBlogtoWatch Zeitblom 
        Sorry, I was a bit harsh… yes I’m sure that wading through this stuff is no fun. You say you used to complain a lot more…. well, I’m sure we’d all enjoy seeing more insults of this kind, so don’t hold back!
        More seriously: I wonder if the following conjecture is true. I suspect that looking at this stuff is actually a good guide to the value proposition. The more a company talks like this, the more haute merde de cheval, the more it relies on celebrity endorsements, the less value we get for money. In other words, there is an inverse relation between puffery and value. True or false? Left as an exercise: apply this theory to [a]Rolex [b] Panerai [c] Patek P……..

  • Ailurophile

    Two comments:
    1.  I don’t understand why Fossil is using the Fossil name to introduce automatic watches at this price point.  Why not use the Zodiac line?  At least there’s some history there.
    2.  If they’re going to go big, as it were, at least make it interesting.  With the number of choices available at this price point there’s nothing compelling about these that would make me want to drop that kind of coin on a Fossil.  I’d rather go with a Christopher Ward or a Steinhart.

    • Ironhead66

      Ailurophile Good call on using the Zodiac line. I’m not even sure Fossil knows what they’re doing with that line. For awhile it looked like they were on the right track with some Swiss automatics (the Calame Automatic Chrono, Calame Classique, and arguably the Oceanaire). Then suddenly all the 2010-11 Zodiac models were on sale everywhere for dirt cheap; then they killed all the old designs except the Oceanaire and now you can’t find a Zodiac for under $500. I can’t remember the last time I saw one in the wild.  This would have been a great opportunity to re-launch Zodiac – a brand that they might have a prayer of getting people to drop $895 on.

  • somethingnottaken

    Seems to me that Fossil are playing it safe while trying to enter a new market. Not necessarily a bad plan, especially if their goal is primarily to get people used to seeing their name in this price range. And if the watches are well built and finished (for their price range) their non-controversial design could well be successful with customers who aren’t watch geeks/snobs.

  • Chronic

    I like this.  The style is tasteful, $895 MSRP is reasonable for a stainless steel Swiss mechanical watch with applied markers, and in today’s market 38mm is considered ‘unisex’ – one size fits all –  a smart choice by Fossil.

  • contrejour

    Sad to see a perpetual error in the design of the ’12’ marker. In this series and I have seen this mistake in other companies as well, the ‘1’ should NOT break higher than the peak of the ‘2’. Oh well, who needs professional typography anyway?

  • Ryan B

    I applaud them for diving into this realm but sadly some people might automatically dismiss it as “just another Fossil” once they see the name. It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

  • DG Cayse

    Looking at this group offering I would say that FOSSIL marketing has done their homework very well. I predict that this will be a success for FOSSIL.
    And, if as mentioned, it opens some doors for ‘entry-level’ watch fanciers to “pull the trigger” (I hate that term) and actually learn more about the world of watches, that isd a very good thing, IMO.
    *disclaimer – I do not work with FOSSIL or any of its affiliates…although I am currently wearing Burberry after-shave…;)

  • Achan

    form my view. i can say the watch case is very nice.

  • Achan

    from my view. i can say the watch case is very nice and have a bit longines feeling….. somehow, i would like to say the price is reasonable

  • Livefyre

    from my view. i can say the watch case is very nice and have a bit longines feeling….. somehow, i would like to say the price is reasonable

  • Luckie

    Pretty small watch at only 38mm. Would like it more in a 45mm.

  • I think 38mm is little bit small. It would look great if they raise the it a slightly more.

  • I couldn’t notice much difference between all the above mentioned watches rather than the colour and strip. Remaining all the features are same. But still like them all because of their genuine appearance.

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  • Luckygeof

    Just got this watch, I couldn’t agree less! This is a wonderfully understated watch. The polished body and satin bezel is Rolex elegant, black face and Arabic numerals are very “explorer 1”. The super luminova is perfectly applied inside the polished edges of the applied markers. This is “cold and uncreative”. I think not, again understated elegance!
    Now the movement, although the fws1001 does not have a screw down crown, it is amazing. You can adjust the date without pulling out the crown. And unlike my vintage Tutor, it has a hack feature! It obvious to me that Fossil was really looking to make an “understated” splash with this watch. Chronophiles, this watch is worth owning! And best part…. I got mine for $150 at TJ Maxx!

  • DG Cayse

    Luckygeof Thanks for the hands-on Geof. If you like it, that is all that matters.

  • lbrown27

    I agree with aspects of this post: since becoming fascinated with watches, I have started to dislike cheaper fashion brands (although I am a poor student with nothing nicer than a seiko). I agree that a Swiss Fossil doesn’t really appeal to their demographic, but Fossil is the brand that actually got me into watches. I own a cheap Fossil Nate and since purchasing it and learning about chorine’s, datewheels, movements etc. I have become obsessed. Ironically, I don’t like the brand anymore but the damn brand made me love watches!

  • Emperius

    My teenager watch I value more than any future-purchased Swiss (in-house preferrably) watch, is a Fossil. Over a decade-old, before Fossil went with the giant dial, plastic watch trend usually made in China; I am surprised that Fossil releases a watch with good, quality build components with a supposed “in-house” movement. I agree with Ariel in some aspects, but as well disagree in others. I am those who value more the sub-$300 watch with the same darn movement as that of any Swatch Group manufacturer which usually contain ETA or Sellita. I really get annoyed by differences in bands and logos on the dial, and the rest is the same in movement, and no, jewel changes and small pieces changed (with perhaps a different color, rofl) to the movement is not enough to change the name to it (‘calibre’, lol) and charge a huge price because a tennis/gold/swimmer player wears one. Looks and size is subjective to each individual so I do not account for that. So in this case, props for Fossil on making a watch with proper features found in upper brands, though, at the same time, I cannot justify the price as if they have years releasing watches similar to this one, with designs that really set them apart, and perhaps a humble recognition to using ETA/Sellita parts with self-made add-ons at reasonable prices. I will find this a hard purchase for the price when one can go to recognizable manufactures with perhaps a better build on the watch, not that this doesn’t though. I really would like to know what exactly this movement is made out of, certainly Sellita-based. Hiding where they acquire parts is a turn off for me, personally in watches.

  • Bobski

    Wow what a terrible review. Bash Fossil to hell. Cheap brand. What on earth do they know about watch making. Fair enough.

    Oh. But wait a minute. Wasn’t it this site that was gushing with praise for Zodiac watches. Made by… oh dear. Fossil.

    Yes Fossil pump out a lot of rubbish (Michael Kors I am looking at you). But I have to say I really like this watch! Now that is hugely personal and obviously Ariel does not. Fair enough. But PLEASE Ariel dont waste both our time, bandwith and synapses with uninformed rubbish. You don’t know what the movement is? Why not find out?

    STP1-11 did you say? Is that an in house Swiss Made movement? With an extra jewel and nicer finishing than ETA? Well why not tell us in this article? (And yes I have seen that you have an article on the movement.)

    Honestly I really like this site but this article is a waste of life. The design doesn’t speak to you, ok that is fine, but the merits? Swiss in house manufacture movement, sapphire crystal, display back, (basically) decorated movement, solid end link bracelet, thin case. Show me another swiss watch under $600 street price that can boast these features.

    Thanks ABTW. Now some more effort please.