What are ‘Fashion Watches’? (And Why People Hate Them)
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I get asked for my opinion on different ‘fashion watch’ brands every single day. In truth, there does seem to be some confusion as to what constitutes a ‘fashion watch’. It’s certainly a divisive term, but what exactly do people mean when discussing them? What are fashion watches?
Today, I’m going to help you define what a fashion watch is; with two slightly different definitions. I’m also going to quickly cover why you’ll often see these types of watches get heavily criticised by ‘watch guys’ online. Maybe you’re considering buying one of these watches, it’s your decision, so I like to give my audience the full picture.
What Are Fashion Watches?
- Watches worn primarily for their aesthetics – as a fashion accessory. In the same way you might wear a necklace for instance.
- Sold by fashion brands who usually make most of their revenue from other products. Typically clothing.
But obviously, that second one doesn’t apply to brands like Daniel Wellington or MVMT, who are some of the first to come to mind when discussing fashion watches. They don’t sell clothing. So, what gives?
Well, there’s a few other attributes that watch enthusiasts tend to consider when mentioning fashion watches. When you see people commenting on YouTube videos and on online forums this is probably what they are referring to.
Fashion Watches as Referred to By Watch Enthusiasts:
- Are made of low-quality components
- Mass Produced in China by little-known manufacturers
- From a brand with no or little horological heritage
- Have generic designs, with little care or thought put into them
- Are overpriced for their specifications
- Typically have cheap quartz movements
Several of the most popular fashion watch brands do sell exclusively online and have advanced digital marketing strategies. Nevertheless, I think the term still incorporates some brands that sell in retail stores; particularly department stores. These will vary in price, from brands like Michael Kors, Calvin Klein and Gucci down to a £10 watch from Primark.
It’s up to you how and where you spend your money. You may not care about some of the factors I’m about to talk about and that’s fine. At the end of the day if you really like a watch and it suits your preference, that should be the deciding factor when making your purchase. Especially if you’re only bothered by the looks, getting one of these isn’t going to hurt anyone. My advice here is just don’t pay too much, if you want to get one make sure you’re not spending a ton of money, and don’t expect them to last a lifetime. I recently did a video covering 10 better alternatives to Daniel Wellington watches, which shows some good options from other brands.
Nevertheless, as a guy who has felt true buyer’s remorse after buying such fashion watches in the past, I think I’d be doing you a disservice by not telling you why these types of watches tend to get panned so heavily by most watch lovers.
Why Do ‘Watch Guys’ Hate These Fashion Watch Brands?
As I previously mentioned these watches are typically very low quality, which is obviously going to be a big factor for many people. We tend to enjoy products that offer good value for money and build quality is often a primary feature when it comes to judging that value. Many of these fashion brands sell pieces which have been cheaply manufactured; so often look cheap, feel cheap and last poorly over time. It’s possible to buy a multitude of watches for a similar price that offer objectively superior build quality.
Many of those alternative watches also contain mechanical movements, which are often made in-house. The movements powering the majority of ‘fashion watches’ are cheap quartz movements. Essentially, a battery makes these watches tick. While I don’t think these are inherently bad, and are technically more accurate than mechanical movements, there are a couple of factors that make these less appealing to many watch enthusiasts. Firstly, the level of craftsmanship required to create and design a mechanical timepiece is generally far higher than that needed to produce a quartz piece. Watch enthusiasts appreciate the romance and artistry that comes with mechanical movements. With such watches, it’s you that gives the watch it’s power, not a battery and circuitry. As a result, I think you feel more of a connection with your watch. There’s something beautiful about the workings of a mechanical watch too; the moving gears and sweeping second hand give them a magical quality. In an age where everything runs off batteries or plug sockets, it’s still amazes me that you can have something like a watch that tells the time without either.
Watch enthusiasts also tend to appreciate the heritage associated with many watch brands. Many of the more ‘favoured’ brands have a history spanning decades and tend to have brought significant contributions and innovations to the watch world. As a result, ‘watch guys’ usually feel a disconnect to these fashion brands, whose history barely qualifies as history at all. Many of these have their roots firmly connected to websites like Aliexpress; which isn’t something worth bragging about.
Another reason people hate fashion watches is the marketing. While several of these brands like Daniel Wellington, The Fifth and Vincero undoubtedly do a great job of digital marketing for the most part, better than nearly every traditional watch brand; some of their material is, in many people’s opinion, shameful and dishonest.
There are a few different methods that particularly piss me off. One thing is sponsored reviews. There are a ton of blogs and YouTube channels that have done ‘reviews’ on these watches, whilst having been paid money directly by that very brand. Whilst I’m all for online content creators making a living, I find paid reviews to be particularly laughable. In my eyes if a brand has paid money for a product review, it negates any true objectivity that the video/article has in the first place; regardless of the creator’s good intentions. The post is no longer unbiased and you’re likely giving the brand some control over that piece of content.
Chances are you’ve probably seen a plethora of sponsored non-review content out there too. While I generally have far less issues with this style of post, I’ve seen many instances where the quality of such goods is massively exaggerated; with cheap fashion watches being hyped up as luxury products. It even got to the extreme stage last year where we had guys claiming these were better than Rolex. (Laughs and facepalms). You’ll notice I monetise most of my posts through affiliate links, as they mean the watch brand has no control over the content produced, so I can keep it honest. The products also cost no more for those of you buying through those links and it doesn’t take up any of the video/article runtime.
Another one is the outright lies that some of these brands tell consumers; seriously, I don’t know how advertising regulators haven’t looked at this yet. For instance, MVMT watches have claimed for years that they ‘cut out the middleman’ and saved their customers money by not selling in traditional retail stores. Yet, MVMT watches are now in those very retail stores. 24 hours at a time made a great YouTube video recently covering this, which I’ll link to here. This goes against their supposed ‘core principles’ and their whole ‘movement’ name and brand in the first place. They’re currently selling their watches directly to consumers online for the same price as these watches in-store; meaning the direct to consumer business model isn’t saving customers any money whatsoever. This confirms that their marketing material was a load of BS.
That’s just one example from one brand, but I think you get the point.
I’d say that’s the main few reasons. In my eyes the presence of these fashion watches on the market does have a couple of benefits, we recently discussed them in this video on my watch channel. It’s up to you whether those reasons matter to you in any way, but I think it’s worth knowing if you’re on the market for a watch.
If you like watches, consider subscribing to my new channel called Ben’s Watch Club on YouTube, where I look at the best affordable watches for men. Please find a link here: https://www.youtube.com/benswatchclub and here’s a link to my website: https://www.benswatchclub.com