For years the Fossil brand has been providing the malls of America with affordable, quartz powered watches. These usually take the shape and style from whatever trends are happening across fashion and watches. Today you can find a number of models in the current line-up that mirror some of the things seen from the Swiss brands, including over-sized watches (44mm and up) to blacked out designs as well. The Fossil brand is now looking to emulate the larger Swiss brands in another fashion: by making Swiss made watches as well.
Fossil watches typically have used Chinese quartz movements in their timepieces which can keep production costs down so the watches remain affordable. In February the brand announced their foray into both Swiss and automatic movements with the Fossil Swiss Automatic. The watch will be available in a stainless steel finish and a polished rose gold-tone case. The stainless versions come with black dials and the gold a blue enamel dial; all of the options are housed in a 38mm case with 20mm lugs. The overall design of the Automatic would fall into the dress watch category based up its simple dial and modest case size. It is a three hand watch with date and a dial that could be improved with less printing. The “automatic” and “Swiss Made” are acceptable, but providing the water resistance on the dial seems unnecessary. Speaking of which, the watch holds a WR of 50M so it is suitable to wear while swimming, fishing, dishes and the like. Not one you want to submerge for an extended period of time, which makes the WR on the dial seem superfluous. The dial is protected by an AR coated sapphire crystal.
Inside the Fossil Automatic is a Swiss made STP caliber 1-11 movement with 26 jewels that beats at 28,800 vph with a 46 hour power reserve. All the specs are credited to Fossil and beyond those numbers not much else is known about the movement; there is no indication of who makes it or where it is sourced. It appears, from the photographs, to be most likely some brand of clone of the ETA 2824 movement, which is visible through the case back thanks to a mineral crystal. The gold version comes with a strap only option while the stainless versions have the option of a strap or stainless steel bracelet.
The Automatic has gotten the most attention since announced, but there are two other models in Fossil’s Swiss line. One is a Ronda 5030.D powered Swiss quartz chronograph that comes in six dial and strap/bracelet combinations. The second is a Ronda 517 Swiss quartz powered three hand Day-Date watch. The appearance of the two additional models is very similar to the Automatic: the dials and hands on all three are nearly identical.
Prices for the Fossil Swiss Automatic and the Swiss chronograph range from $895-$995 while the Day-Date model will run $695. None of the three seem particularly inspired pieces and the appeal seems to be somewhat limited. Seasoned watch enthusiasts will most likely scoff at the prices and unknown Automatic movement while regular Fossil buyers used to lower prices may have a hard time justifying the nearly $1,000 USD price. It will be interesting to watch how this experiment pans out; I like to see brands trying new things and expanding their offerings, but I’m not sure Fossil hit the mark with these three.
by James Enloe