In today’s world, there seems to be a hierarchy to everything, even watches. And while most people have no clue there’s a difference between ‘normal watches’ and ‘fashion watches’, there most definitely is.
Fashion watches are watches from brands that aren’t specialized in watchmaking. Watch enthusiasts often look down upon fashion watches, as they’re typically low-quality timepieces sold for a high markup. The term ‘fashion watch’ is a derogatory term for sub-par watches.
Fashion watches tend to have a pretty bad reputation, but why is that? In this article, we’ll cover everything there is to know about what fashion watches are, how good they are, and whether or not they deserve a bad reputation!
Table of Contents
What Is Considered A Fashion Watch?
Fashion watches are watches produced by brands that aren’t specialized in watchmaking. These watches are mass-produced and of lesser quality, typically marketed as luxurious timepieces. In reality, fashion watches rarely live up to the luxury claims.
The easiest way to determine when a watch is a fashion watch is by looking at the brand behind the watch. In simple terms, fashion watches are produced by brands that are not specialized in watchmaking.
A brand like Michael Kors is a huge fashion brand, but it’s not a watch brand. Yet, they still have an extensive catalog of watches. Michael Kors does design these watches, but only the exterior. They make the model and give it the good looks, but they outsource everything else.
Michael Kors isn’t the only brand to do this. After all, the watch market is enormous, and many established fashion brands want to take a piece of that pie.
But these brands aren’t watchmakers. And that really shows in the quality. A few key characteristics of fashion watches are:
- A quartz movement
- Acrylic/mineral glass
- Brass-plated case
- Minimalistic/modern design
- Generally made with lower-quality materials
Most of these characteristics aren’t all that bad. A quartz movement is one of the most reliable movements in the world, and even expert watchmaking brands are happy to include a quartz-powered watch in their catalog.
Mineral glass isn’t too bad either. More affordable watchmaking brands like Seiko and Citizen also use mineral glass. It’s not as scratch-resistant as a sapphire crystal, but it does the job well enough. Acrylic glass, on the other hand, is a no-go. It’s basically a piece of easily scratchable plastic (read this article to learn more about the different watch glass materials!).
But the main issue with fashion watches is that they are marketed to be incredible and luxurious timepieces. These brands spend more money on making the product appear high quality than actually making a high-quality product.
On the other hand, these issues really only mean something to you if you actually value watchmaking itself. For most people, including myself sometimes, a fashion watch is just another watch.
Is There Anything Wrong With Fashion Watches?
Fashion watches often get a bad name because the brands behind them are simply looking to produce a cheap watch and sell it for a high markup. They often claim that the watches are high quality and fit in the luxurious spectrum of watches, but rarely actually live up to these claims.
There’s isn’t necessarily anything wrong with fashion watches. At least, not for the average person. Most, if not all, of the criticism, comes from the watch enthusiasts. They appreciate watchmaking for the art it is, and when they see the poor quality and high prices of fashion watches, it rubs them the wrong way.
And in most instances, they do have a valid point. Fashion watches typically cost next to nothing to make, are of subpar (or flat out poor) quality, and are falsely marketed as luxurious, high-quality timepieces. They’re also made with cheap materials, and typically, they cut as many corners as they can to keep the production costs down.
But to be fair, most fashion watches aren’t all that expensive either. Most can be found for $100 to $250, which is actually a really reasonable price. Especially for someone who doesn’t know or care about all the fancy complications and movements found in higher-end watches and just wants a great-looking watch.
For most people, there really isn’t anything wrong with a fashion watch. They’re affordable, good-looking, and tell the time. But ask an enthusiast, and you’ll get the exact opposite. A common rule among watch enthusiasts is this:
Only buy watches from brands that are specialized in watch making.
Brands specialized in watchmaking are luxury brands like Rolex, IWC, or Breitling, and the more affordable brands like Seiko, Hamilton, or Citizen. These brands actually know what they’re doing and have a certain standard for quality.
Whereas fashion watch brands outsource the entire process and slap their logo on it at the end, actual watchmaking brands care about the materials used to make the watch, what movement it has, how it functions, etc.
In the end, there really isn’t anything wrong with a fashion watch. Fashion watches are primarily produced to look fantastic, and in most cases, they do. So if you’re just looking for a great-looking watch, a fashion watch could be the answer. But if you rather want a great-looking and great-functioning watch, maybe it’s best to skip the fashion watch aisle.
What Are The Positives Of Fashion Watches?
Fashion watches get a bad reputation, especially from watch enthusiasts. But for the average folk, they’re not all that bad. Yes, you don’t get a luxurious piece of high-quality craftsmanship, but you do get a good-looking watch for a respectable price. Here are some of the positive sides of fashion watches!
Fashion Watches Are Affordable
One great thing about fashion watches is that they’re super affordable. Although the brands try to hype the watches up to be luxurious items, the price typically stays between $100 and $250 per watch. Whether that’s worth it is another question, but $100 to $250 for a watch is relatively affordable.
If you’re looking at watch prices from respectable brands, the price will be a little higher. Take Seiko, for example. They have a few models in the $200 range, but most will sit slightly above that. Prices like $300, $400, or even $500 are pretty standard prices.
Since fashion watches are more affordable, they’re much easier to buy. Purchasing a luxury timepiece for multiple thousands of dollars takes a lot of forethought. It’s not an easy purchase. But fashion watches are much cheaper, making them an easier purchase. You could even buy several to build up a small collection.
Additionally, you won’t feel as bad if you accidentally damage your watch. Damaging a $150 watch is much easier to live with than damaging your $5000 IWC.
Fashion Watches Are Purely Made To Look Good
Most complaints about fashion watches come from their sub-par quality while claiming that they’re high-end. However, one thing that is hard to complain about is the way fashion watches look.
The main purpose of these fashion watch brands is to sell a lot of watches, and watches don’t sell easily if they don’t look good. Fashion watch brands primarily focus on making sure that the watch looks and sells nicely, and that shows.
They often feature the highly loved minimalistic approach, or they simply mimic a popular luxury watch model. Invicta’s Pro Diver, for example, is nearly a carbon copy of Rolex’s Submariner.
Fashion Watches Function Fine
Fashion watches are often bashed because of their sub-par quality, but in all honestly, they usually work well enough. Don’t expect anything out of the ordinary, but a simple quartz movement will do the job just fine. Especially if you’re not a watch enthusiast, you most likely won’t notice anything.
However, it is true that the materials used to make the watch will be of lesser quality. Golden watches are gold-plated, stainless steel is often substituted with plastics or cheaper metals, and the face of the watch is covered by mineral glass, or in the worst-case scenario, acrylic glass.
With that said, though, you do get a watch that looks great and functions nicely. It’s no luxurious masterpiece, but you’ll typically get a good-working watch that will last you a good time.
Fashion Watches Are Readily Available
Unlike luxury watch brands, fashion watches are readily available, where you’ll have to sign up for waiting lists that can sometimes take multiple years (yes, year-long waiting lists!). Brands like Michael Kors, Fossil, or Tommy Hilfiger have a spot in nearly every large department store, and all their watch models are in high supply.
Buying a fashion watch is as easy as walking into the store, picking the watch you like, paying, and you’re done.
How Do Fashion Watches Stack Up Against Luxury Watches?
Luxury watches are superior to fashion watches in any sense of the way. Luxury watches are hand-assembled by expert watchmakers with incredible accuracy and quality standards, while fashion watches are outsourced to cheap countries to be mass-produced with affordable materials.
While I have been going easy on fashion watches throughout this article, there simply isn’t a comparison between fashion watches and luxury watches. Luxury watches outperform fashion watches in every single category.
We could go on and on about all the major differences in quality, materials, etc., but the most considerable difference is that luxury watch brands are actually specialized in watchmaking. Brands like Rolex, IWC, or Patek Philippe have over a hundred years of experience in creating high-quality timepieces.
On the other hand, most fashion watch brands simply outsource the entire process to a third-world country. They use cheap and low-quality materials, mass manufacture them with low-quality standards, slap a fancy logo on them, and call it a day.
Fashion watch brands are all about marketing the watch as a luxury good, while actual watchmakers create actual luxury goods.
And as a side note, this doesn’t only go for luxury watch brands either. Well-established watch brands like Seiko or Hamilton that aren’t necessarily classed as luxury watch brands are still miles and miles better than fashion watch brands.
In the end, it all depends on whether or not the brand specializes in watchmaking or not.
What Fashion Watch Brands Have A Good Reputation?
Fashion watch brands with a good reputation are hard to find, but I’m cutting some slack here. To me, there are two significant differences between fashion watch brands. You’ve got actual big-name fashion brands, and you’ve got your e-commerce, dropshipping fashion watch brands.
With big-name brands, I mean brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, and Fossil. These brands are prominent players in the fashion world, and they have at least some quality standards put in place. After all, they place their logo on the watch. It may not be a horology masterpiece, but it’s not an all-out disaster either.
Here’s a list of fashion watch brands that have a good reputation:
- Michael Kors
- Louis Vuitton
- Tommy Hilfiger
- Daniel Wellington
- Hugo Boss
What Fashion Watch Brands Should You Avoid?
Whereas big-name brands like Michael Kors and Tommy Hilfiger still have some quality standards for their watches, there are fashion watch brands that don’t. These brands typically drop ship or white label their watches straight from AliExpress and sell them for an unreasonably high margin.
Here’s a list of fashion watch brands that you should probably avoid:
- Filippo Loreti
- Movement (MVMT)
- No Label Watch
A common trend with these watch brands is that they’re often featured in YouTube videos from fashion influencers. And truth be told, most of these fashion watch brands do provide good-looking watches. They typically play into the sleek, minimalistic design that so many people love.
But quality-wise? They’re just not that good. And considering they charge a premium for a watch that costs them a few bucks on AliExpress, it just doesn’t sit right with most people.
A good example is Filippo Loreti. They market their watches to be on par with the likes of Rolex. Yet, when you type in any of the watch’s characteristics in AliExpress or Alibaba, you’ll find the same exact watch. Only difference? AliExpress lists them at $28, and Filippo Loreti lists them at $280.