Are Fossil Watches Good? [Honest Brand Review]

Many watch collectors have Fossil to thank for their growing watch addiction collection. A Fossil watch gifted to me for my high school graduation was one of the first watches I’ve ever owned, and, in a way, helped lead to the blog you are reading today.

However, when looking at Fossil watches online, you’ll see a grab bag of mixed reviews. Some seem to love them, while others despise them. This leaves you wondering just how good their watches actually are. 

Fossil watches are good-looking, affordable watches. They make a wide variety of mass-appealing designs in their Swiss design studio. However, their watches are manufactured in China, often using cheap parts, and are not very well-built.

Fossil watches are perfect for someone who wants a nice-looking watch, without spending an arm and a leg, and doesn’t care about the parts used. They often use cheap movements, and you can find better quality watches at similar price points from other watch brands such as Seiko.

In this post, we discuss the quality of Fossil watches, where they are made, some history about the brand, and more. Read on to find out whether that Fossil watch you’re eyeing is the right fit for you, or if there are better alternatives on the market. 

Are Fossil Watches Good Quality?

When compared to similarly priced watches, the majority of Fossil watches are of poor quality. Most of their watches use cheap quartz movements, mineral crystals that scratch easily, flimsy metal bracelets, or questionable “genuine leather” watch straps. 

Although it is not uncommon for well-known brands like Seiko, Orient, and Tissot to cut corners in some of these areas, they include better parts in at least one of them.

For example, Seiko is known for using automatic movements in their similarly priced, ~$100 watches. The same goes for Orient, who even goes as far as to use near scratch-proof sapphire crystals in some of their ~$200 watches. 

The general consensus among watch collectors is that while Fossils are not bad-looking watches by any means, you can typically get more “value for your dollar” elsewhere. However, this is not the case with all Fossil watches. Some, which we’ll detail later, are a much better value than others. 

My Broken Fossil Chronograph

I’ve had a poor experience with the quality of a Fossil Chronograph I was gifted for my high school graduation. Although I loved the look and feel of the watch, one of the chronograph buttons fell off. Thankfully, Fossil’s customer service was very quick in replacing the faulty watch, however, after two repeated incidents of the exact same issue on three different watches, I decided to cut my losses and stopped wearing the watch.

Where Are Fossil Watches Made?

Fossil watches are made in China, however, they are designed in their design studio in Biel, Switzerland.

With Fossil hoping to have a larger global footprint, they have opened production lines in other countries such as the Canton Ticino region of Switzerland for their Swiss line. 

Is Fossil a Good Brand?

Yes, Fossil is a reputable and reliable brand. There’s a reason they’re one of the most popular affordable watch brands in the world. They produce a ton of good-looking watch designs at an attainable price point.

As long as you know what you are getting when you buy a Fossil watch; a watch that looks great, but may not have an engine (the movement inside) that is as good as the exterior.

Are Fossil Watches Worth The Money

The materials used in Fossil watches are not as high quality as those used in comparable watches. On the other hand, they offer a ton of unique styles and even offer free engravings to personalize a watch, for yourself, or for a gift.

If you just want a watch that looks good, a Fossil is a great choice. But if you want a watch that will last you a lifetime, it’s probably best to save your hard-earned money.

How Much Do Fossil Watches Cost

Fossil watches are some of the most affordable watches on the market, costing between $50 – $300.

However, they have released Swiss watches in the past that were sold for almost $900. 

As of October 2022, the cheapest watch on Fossil’s online store was the Ashtyn, retailing at a discounted price of $52.

The most expensive watches are the automatic Flynn and Privateer, both retailing at $252.

Fossil Privateer - An Affordable Automatic Skeleton Watch
Fossil Privateer – An Affordable Automatic Skeleton Watch

Thankfully, most of these watches can frequently be found on sale, and at discounted rates. While they might not be worth the purchase at their full retail price, an automatic, such as the Privateer, for example, isn’t such a bad deal when found for under $200.

Fossil Watch Movements

Fossil doesn’t make its own watch movements. 

In most of their watches, they use cheap Japanese quartz movements from Seiko, and mechanical Miyota movements from Citizen. At one point, Fossil released a lineup of watches with Swiss Ronda and STP movements, although they are no longer in the brand’s lineup. 

If you have a Fossil watch with a Japanese movement from Seiko or Miyota, it will often be labeled as “Japan Movt” on the dial. 

In their quartz watches, Fossil uses movements such as the Hattori movements made by Seiko. Although cheap, and leaving a bit to be desired in a watch that costs $150+, the movements are reliable, have battery lifes of 1-2 years, and it’s easy to replace the battery when the time comes. We’ll include some instructions on changing the battery later in this article.

Although much newer to the lineup, Fossil uses entry-level Japanese movements such as the Citizen Miyota 8N24 in some of their mechanical watches, like the Grant. Although not the most accurate, with a variance ranging between +40 to – 20 seconds per day, it’s a reliable and durable movement, considering its cost. 

In some cases, a Fossil watch might have These watches often have “Swiss Made” written on the dial. There was a brief instance when Fossil sold watches with Swiss STP movements, however, they are no longer in the active watch lineup.

Fossil Quality Control

Users have found cosmetic issues, even on brand-new Fossil watches. These usually don’t affect the watch’s functionality, only aesthetics. Users have reported receiving watches with slightly misaligned dials or hands. 

Users have also complained about the charging rings in Fossil’s smartwatches coming out of their indents. This causes the watch to charge only in particular positions or, in some cases, prevents it from charging at all. Some users have reported that the rings work after gluing them back in carefully, but it is recommended to take the watch in for repair instead, utilizing Fossil’s generous 2-year warranty if possible.

Are Fossil Watches Waterproof?

Fossil watches have between 30m – 100m of water resistance. 

No watch in the world is completely waterproof, even those from luxury brands such as Rolex. Many watches are, however, water-resistant. This means that they can withstand water resistance up to a measured depth rating. In Fossil’s case, their depth ratings vary between 30m and 100m, depending on the watch. 

Warning: the water resistance rating only applies to the watch, not the strap. Watches with leather straps should not be worn in the water, as it will damage the leather.

3 ATM (30 Meters)

A watch rated at a water resistance of 30 meters can be used while washing hands or in the rain but not for swimming. 

Fossil watches with 30m water resistance:

5 ATM (50 Meters)

A watch with a 50-meter rating can be worn when swimming, but in shallow water only.

Fossil Watches with 50m water resistance:

10 ATM (100 Meters)

A watch rated at 100 meters can be used for swimming unrestricted to shallow water.

Fossil Watches with 100m water resistance:

Is Fossil a Luxury Brand?

No, Fossil is not a luxury brand, but they don’t try to portray themselves as such. They are one of the most popular affordable watch brands, primarily for their wide array of unique and good-looking styles at affordable price points. 

Watch enthusiasts label Fossil as a ‘fashion brand’, meaning they’re more focused on the look and feel of the watch than the horological aspects, such as its timekeeping ability. 

Fossil Partnerships 

Over the years, Fossil has developed partnerships with many well-established companies over the years. Fossil has licenses to design and manufacture watches for global companies such as:

  • BMW
  • Puma
  • Sketchers 
  • Diesel
  • Armani Exchange 
  • Kate Spade, New York 
  • Michael Kors
  • Tory Burch

How Does Fossil Treat Its Employees?

The company also has a good reputation for treating its workers well. The company has a high employee retention rate and a 100% Corporate Equality Index. Fossil also takes part in civic responsibilities, such as empowering disadvantaged women and children worldwide.

Current Fossil Watch Lineups

Fossil has numerous current watches and lineups. While Relic, Michele, Zodiac, and Skagen watches are also manufactured by Fossil, this list comprises only those sold under the Fossil name.

Analog Watches

Below is a list of the current Fossil watches currently available.

  • Grant 
  • Nate

Other Fossil Watches include:

  • Dean
  • Townsman
  • Machine 
  • The Commuter 
  • The Minimalist
  • Boyfriend 
  • Coachman 


With the fast-paced era of the technological revolution, traditional watches are in stiff competition with smartwatches like Fitbit and those produced by smartphone companies such as Apple and Samsung. 

Fossil has also come up with some very competitive smartwatch designs. These include:

  • Fossil Gen 6
  • Fossil Gen 5
  • Fossil Gen 5E
  • Fossil Gen 5 LTE
  • Fossil Hybrid HR

Automatic Watches That Don’t Need Batteries

Fossil Group also manufactures mechanical watches that wind themselves automatically by utilizing the motion of the wrist and the force of gravity. These watches are called automatic watches. 

The following is a list of some automatic watches produced by Fossil:

  • Townsman 
  • Everett 
  • Neutra 
  • Inscription 
  • Privateer
  • FB-01 
  • Bronson 

Is Fossil a Luxury Watch Brand?

No. Luxury brands are usually characterized by the use of superior materials for every watch. They often focus on refinement and precision, both in the design and build of the watch, as well as the performance of the movement. They also have strict quality control measures, ensuring consistency from watch to watch. 

Fossil is an affordable, entry-level watch brand. 

Fossil’s Warranty and Return Policy

Fossil has a two-year warranty policy starting from the day of the watch’s purchase. It covers defects in materials, manufacture, movement, hands, and dials. 

A purchase receipt must be provided for components to be repaired or replaced. 

There is no guarantee you will receive the same watch model, but a watch with a similar value or style will be provided. 

Finding a Replacement Strap for Your Fossil Watch

You can order a replacement strap directly from Fossil’s online store. You can also use any third-party strap, as long as it has the same lug width as your watch. Simply look up the lug width of your watch in the specifications. A watch’s lug width is typically 18, 20, or 22mm. 

Fossil straps are easy to change as they have a quick-release mechanism on the strap. When the quick-release pin on the strap is pressed, the strap pops off from the case, making it easy to change looks using the same watch. 

Fossil Watch Battery Replacements

When your battery dies out, you could easily take the watch to a watchmaker to replace the batteries. It won’t cost you more than a few bucks. 

If you are a do-it-yourself kinda person, you will first have to know the type of battery you need. It’s best to refer to your watch’s manual to find the exact battery type your Fossil needs. Thankfully, the batteries for a Fossil are widely available. 

Most smartwatch hybrids are compatible with a CR2430 coin cell battery. 

For Quartz watches, the standard 371 batteries are recommended, as long as you ensure it’s the right size for your watch. 

How To Change the Battery on a Fossil Watch

Here’s how to change the battery on a fossil watch. 

  1. Unscrew the case back. The battery should be visible. 
  2. Remove the white bracket. 
  3. Remove the battery. 
  4. Install the new battery with the “+” facing up. 
  5. Reinstall the bracket, ensuring the interior buttons align with the exterior ones. 
  6. Screw the cover back on.

If this is a watch you plan on swimming with, have it pressure tested by a watchmaker after changing the battery to verify its water resistance.

Watch the video below for a step-by-step guide on how to change the batteries in three types of Fossil watches.

The History of Fossil Watches

The brand was conceived by Tom Kartsotis in 1984. He was based in Richardson, Texas, at the time. He chose to start the brand after being advised by his brother on how much profit they could make by importing and selling watches from the Far East. 

Tom withdrew from his business, flew to Hong Kong and returned with 1,500 watches. A year later, he unveiled the watches under the brand name, “Fossil.” 

The watches had a ’50s retro style and were packaged in colorful tins and wooden boxes. The choice boosted sales as the boxes appealed to customers. 

Over the years, Fossil went on to acquire watch companies such as Skagen and Emporio Armani, among others. They have expanded to many countries, such as Switzerland, Germany and Denmark. The company currently has licensing deals allowing it to manufacture watches for the likes of BMW and Diesel. Read on as we dive deeper into all of this. 

Summary: Are Fossil Watches Good?

Fossil watches are a good choice for someone on a budget who cares more about how the watch looks, rather than how well it runs, or the movement inside. There are other watch brands like Seiko, Citizen, Orient, and Tissot, to name a few, that will have better build quality and use higher quality movements at similar price points.

With that said, you might just love the design of a particular Fossil watch. In that case, go for it! They produce tons of unique and objectively good looking watches that you can enjoy, and won’t break the bank. 

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