Let me start out by saying that I’m new to collecting watches, but I’ve seen some bad comments about the build quality of Fossil. Frankly most of the comments appear to be from people who don’t like any watch that’s sold at the mall. To be honest I hadn’t been in a Fossil store in years, but I had always considered them primarily a watch brand that sold other accessories. I was surprised to see them considered a “Fashion Brand.” I thought a Fashion brand was a brand that was known for making one thing, Smith & Wessen (guns), Burbury (coats), having a watch made with their name on it. I can understand Michal Kors and Diesel watches, both made by Fossil, being called Fashion brands, just like Guess and Nautica being Fashion brands made by Timex, but did Fossil Watches become a Fashion brand when they started selling clothing in their stores? I ask this because the impression I got from my recent experience with Fossil was that they were most definitely a watch company.
I can remember my wife (girlfriend at the time) buying me a Fossil at an ...... mall back in 1994 and I still have it and it gets wear in my collection. The watch is 17+ years old and it keeps excellent time. At the time that she bought it they sold watches and wallets, with the emphasis being on the watches.
I recently got back into watches, mostly based on getting that old fossil out and replacing the battery and realizing how nice a watch it was. I found a nice used Fossil Chronograph (FS-4249) on ebay and purchased it. I received the watch and it was in bad shape. It was missing the o ring water seal and had the wrong size battery jammed into it. I put the right sized battery into it and pulled out the crown to set it and the crown came off in my hand. Needless to say I contacted the seller and got my money back minus the shipping and the seller let me keep the useless watch (seller said that he had “serviced” it and that he thought it was fine, but he didn’t want it back (sounded like he knew it had been “serviced” poorly). I kept the watch as I planned to try replacing the movement in it.
I took it to a Seiko dealer as the movement was a Seiko. The dealer was surprised when I told him it had a Seiko movement, so surprised that he pulled the caseback off of it to take a look and the dealer commented on how nice the watch was made. He said he couldn’t replace the movement as his “eyes weren’t what they once were” and he wouldn’t be able to replace the small sub dial hands. He did however give me some pointers about how to remove the hands and dial. I hung on to the watch and started looking around for a place online to buy the movement.
In the meantime I purchased another Fossil Chronograph on ebay (FS-4527) and had much better luck. I did however take the back off of it to see the movement and I wasn’t able to get it back on as it was a snap type and I couldn’t get enough pressure to fit it. Out of desperation I called the Fossil store in my local mall and was impressed when they said to bring it in and they would put the caseback on it. Once I got there and the employee had fixed the watch I mentioned the other watch that needed the new movement. I asked if I could buy a new movement from Fossil and the employee seemed horrified. He said that all Fossil watches have an 11 year warranty and asked me what style it was. I told him the number and he looked it up explaining that they didn’t have any of that model, but they could get one transferred in from another store. I explained that I had bought the watch used, but he said that that didn’t matter and ordered the watch for me. I thought I had lucked out and got a great employee who was willing to stand behind the product and I waited a week to get the new watch, I was still skeptical that they would let me return the broken watch, but I waited. In the meantime I got another Fossil Chronograph (FS-4565) off ebay and was very happy with it. The bracelet was a little too long and I was unable to remove a link, so when they day came to exchange the broken watch I took the watch that I needed to have a link removed on with me.
When I got there one employee went into the back and got the new watch as soon as I told them my name. Another employee asked me about the other watch and took it and removed a link in a lot less time than I expected (almost embarrassed as it was a little girl who weighed maybe 90 pounds who removed the link I couldn’t). They took my broken watch without a single question and gave me the new one. As the employee handed it to me he said, “Would you also need a link removed from this one?” He then handed the watch to a third employee who removed a link in about two seconds. The employee who had the watch I had brought in to have a link removed, looked at it and said “this is the same style as yours, but with a black face, I like it better” to the first employee. I told him that I liked his watch and the next thing I know both female employees that had helped me popped out their wrists to show me their watches. Here were three 20 something people proudly showing me their watches. This is the same generation that we are always claiming don’t even wear watches anymore? Each of the girls had to tell me about their watches, not just the style or color, but about the movements in them and their amount of water resistance. I was just blown away! I talked watches with all three for a few minutes and when I got ready to leave one of the girls looked down at the watches in my hands and said “we can’t let you leave like that. Pick out a tin for each and I’ll get you a bag. Although I’m not really into the Fossil tins, I picked out two of them and they boxed up my watches (each with a labeled little envelope containing the extra link, warranty information and instructions) and placed them in a shopping bag for me.
This was the best experience I have ever had with a watch company anywhere and the fact that it happened in a mall with a watch brand that I expected to be all fashion was amazing. I fully expected to have jump through hoops to get the watch exchanged, but I didn’t. I expected that they may have one or two employees there that could take a link out of a watch, but it seems that all of their employees know how to. I expected to have to talk to at least one employee that would say something like “I don’t know much about the watches I just know about…”, instead it seems that all three employees in the store were budding watch geeks. So for any of you out there dismissing Fossil watches, I say give them another look, you may be surprised.