Ok, sure. Nowadays there is no real necessity to use a wristwatch in the vast majority of situations. In that sense, they are no longer desired for their sheer functionality (albeit for some very particular scenarios), and are more likely seen as an accessory to compliment one’s style. If so, then why is there even a term for a “fashion watch” and why is everyone complaining about them? In this article we will try to explain this concept and share our own ideas as watch enthusiasts.
What is a Fashion watch anyway?
“Fashion watch” is a derogatory name for any watch made from a brand that:
- Is mostly known for selling other types of fashion accessories or clothes.
- Aims to sell rather cheap timepieces at a higher than average price.
The first one is rather easy to spot. After all, you don’t expect Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfigger or Gucci to be expert watchmakers: they just simply outsource a rather simple watch model to a mass production factory – usually in China -, stamp their brand logo in and there you go. The second one, however, is rather more difficult to spot… but it is really not that different from the first batch.
Fashion Watch Brands
These brands will usually charge you around 100 – 200 USD for most of their models; and most will just feature a rather cheap quartz movement, cheap materials in its build (plastic, aluminum or average quality steel), and most of the times just a mineral crystal. Again, these are most likely to come out of a factory in China with not great quality control, and the brand logo in it.
Oddly enough, despite their price tag, sometimes it is possible to find the original Chinese model. One blogger claimed to find a $ 35 Chinese Special that was exactly like a $ 200+ fashion brand model.
Despite this, and knowingly, these watches will be aggressively marketed as luxury-quality or near-luxury items. And by aggressively, we mean that you will most likely end up seeing lots and lots of social media and youtube ads of these watches. These companies are also known for using influencers in rather dramatic and/or exaggerated ways. The most infamous example is Alpha M comparing a sponsored brand to a Rolex.
They will always insist on their supposed high quality, while mentioning how they are able to deliver such “low prices” by “cutting off the middle-man” and selling directly to the customer via e-commerce. These brands aim to a rather “novice” audience: people who are not as informed about watches, their prices, and what you can expect from any budget. All of this, coupled with the marketing and some rather interesting designs, make it easy for the uninformed to find them compelling products.
This is the reason why a lot of people consider them a scam.
Numerous youtubers and bloggers have actually taken up arms in denouncing this brands for what they are and pretend to be. And they are right. For the same price tag as the average fashion watch, one can get an entry level automatic watch from prestigious companies with real watchmaking history. As is often pointed out, you can get an Invicta Pro Diver, a Orient Bambino or a Timex Marlin for what the fashion brands usually ask you. Heck, even with just a bit more investment you can get a Pontvs Hydra made out of naval grade brass!
The bright side?
Despite everything, one thing to note is that the existence of these fashion watch brands are actively promoting the kind of long forgotten hobby of collecting and owning watches. Most of the times their ads are the first approach beginners have with watches in general, and if they ultimately are the cause why people decide to own watches, then it is a good thing!
Besides, their dominance in the market is also pushing other serious companies on the entry level to upgrade their own marketing game. We've recently seen Casio, Timex and even Seiko create more attractive, affordable options, and also to get more involved in digital marketing, which is an area most companies - especially the older ones - were seriously lacking.So, there you have it. However, despite everything, one needs to always remember that, at the end of the day, you are free to buy and wear whatever pleases you. But, we do believe the above explanation is necessary in order to make an informed, well thought purchase.