The battle of the brands Fossil vs Skagen….
Watches are still big business despite more of us using our mobile phones to tell the time. The sector has responded to the trend in smartphones and the move to a more digitised way of living. Introducing the smartwatch.
Some of us are probably more familiar with the likes of Apple Watch and Samsung. However there are other players on the market offering competitive options, such as Skagen and Fossil. Unlike the smartphone giants, Skagen and Fossil started off as traditional watch brands that have diversified into the smartwatch market. Skagen is actually a subsidiary of Fossil, and has been since 2012.
We take a closer look at both these brands and try to conclude if one is actually better than the other.
Fossil is not just known for its watches. It is a fashion brand with a range of products that bear the Fossil logo. The company, however, has earned itself an excellent reputation for watches that are both stylish and functional. The likes of Michael Kors, Diesel and BMW have worked with Fossil to develop their own distinct timepieces.
Fossil was founded by Tom Kartosis in 1984 to try and take advantage of the burgeoning fashion watch market. He built his empire based on a business model his brother had bought to his attention; the increasing trend around importing goods from the Far East, in particular watches.
Fossil’s initial offering to the watch trade was a range of fashion watches with a retro look and feel. These days, Fossil’s watch business includes both fashion and wearable items. In the main, its watches operate on a Japanese quartz movement with some Swiss quartz exceptions.
Skagen is the brainchild of husband and wife, Henrik and Charlotte Jorst. Who, although Danish, didn’t actually start the company till they moved to the US in 1987. Skagen started production in 1989, but it wasn’t until it showed some watches at a corporate fair in 1991 that their talent was recognised. Spurred on by the positive reception their watches had received, the husband and wife team introduced their goods to the broader market and thus Skagen-Denmark was now an up and coming watch brand.
The 90s saw Skagen build its brand reputation. They increased market share across Europe, and in 2007 opened a distribution office in Hong Kong.
Fossil bought Skagen Designs Ltd in 2012, and the company has continued to develop the brand. The minimalist design has become a popular brand with young people.
Alongside their traditional watch ranges, both Skagen and Fossil have a line of wearable technology in the form of smartwatches. Each company offers the consumer a choice between an all-out smartwatch and a hybrid smartwatch.
A smartwatch is a digital watch with added features, including a touchscreen. In many ways, a smartwatch is like having a mini-computer on your wrist. Smartwatches on the market today can do a number of things. These include tracking your physical activity and connecting to your smartphone, so you never miss communication. Some let you customise your experience on a daily basis with personalised dials and interchangeable straps. Smartwatches require an app to allow management and telemetry (i.e. sensor readings).
A hybrid smartwatch is ideal if you like your watches to look like a watch i.e. with the traditional dial and arms. Some features of a hybrid smartwatch are ‘smart’. However, in the main, these devices don’t look very techy and don’t require charging on a daily basis.
Fossil’s current smartwatch portfolio includes:
- Gen 4
- Gen 5
- Hybrid HR
Skagen’s smartwatches range is currently comprised of
- Falster 2
- Falster 3
- Hybrid Smartwatch Hagen
Skagen’s Falster Smartwatches
It seems Skagen learnt a few things from releasing its Falster 2 model. The Falster 3 is a much better wearable in terms of performance and use. The key difference between the two is in the type of processor used and the display type. The Falster 3 benefits from a speedy Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor and an increase in RAM and storage (1GB memory and 8GB of storage), rendering issues with Falster 2 and lag a distant memory. The screen on the Falster 3 is also slightly bigger. The display is much improved, thanks to the AMOLED display as opposed to the Falster 2′ OLED.
Both watches are similar in design except that the Falster 2 is the slimmer and smaller of the two. The Falster 3 comes in at a respectable 42mm. It sits nicely on the wrist and the wearer is able to choose from a number of colour options. These include gunmetal mesh, brown leather and blue silicone mesh. The straps are 22mm and can be swapped as desired.
The features on both of Skagen’s watches are very similar. Both models are equipped with built-in GPS, heart rate monitoring, fitness tracking and are water-resistant. The big news here is that the Falster 3 has a loudspeaker. Consequently, making it easier to play your music wherever you like without a headset. Furthermore, you can hear the Google Assistant responses too. The Falster 3 can also make and receive Bluetooth calls. And, good news for iPhone users who can Bluetooth call through iOS as well.
The battery life of the Falster 3 has seen an upgrade too – there are now multiple modes that can be turned on and off as needed in line with when the wearer wants to charge the watch next. You can choose from a completely stripped down version where everything bar the time functionality is switched off (time only), or you can pick and choose what stays on (customer mode).
So, if you really want a Skagen watch, it has to be the Falster 3, especially if you want better performance and battery life. Of course, if you want to pay less and can handle the lacklustre performance on the Falster 2, you’d still be getting a decent smartwatch that looks good.
For those of us who like something different, the Falster 3 can also be purchased as a special edition model, which Skagen has designed in collaboration with DJ Kygo’s lifestyle brand X by Kygo.
Fossil’s Gen and Sport ranges smartwatches
The Gen 5 is the latest offering from Fossil and is a beautiful watch. Fossil has created a premium watch that would look good on any fashion-conscious wrist. Like Skagen, Fossil has sought to fix the issues with its predecessors in the release of the Gen 5, including battery life and performance. Similarly, the Gen 5 has the same battery modes menu as the Falster 3.
In terms of design, the Sport is the lightest of all Fossil’s offerings, with the Gen 5 and Gen 4 being a little weightier because of the stainless steel casing. The Sport model boasts some funky colours with a variety of silicone straps, while the Gen 4 and Gen 5 have a number of leather and silicone strap options. The Gen 5 is not quite Fossil’s biggest watch – that accolade goes to the Gen 4 (45mm), but the Gen 5 is bigger than the Sport at 44mm.
If money is not an issue and you like your smartwatch to be smooth and zippy, the Gen 5 is the one to choose. Like Skagen’s Falster 3, the Gen 5 has seen a doubling of the storage and RAM as well as running on the latest Snapdragon 3100 wear processor. The Gen 5 boasts all of the health sensors and fitness tracking options as its predecessors, with some functionality being improved, such as the heart monitor.
Fossil’s Hybrid smartwatch is undoubtedly the more smartwatch-like option compared to Skagen’s model. The Hybrid Hagen has limited notification capability and does not include a heart rate monitor, while Fossil has all that and more, including for those who like flexibility, a complete set of customisable features.
Conclusion – Skagen vs Fossil
If the decision was solely on watch specification, there is very little separating the two brands, especially with both their latest models matching up exactly in performance, storage and battery life. Fossil, of course, has the slightly larger range of smartwatches, with the Sport marketed towards those of us that are more fitness conscious.
A quick price check reveals that at present Skagen’s Falster 3 works out to be slightly more expensive than the Gen 5 but given that the inside of both watches is relatively the same, we look to the outside to make a decision and on that front, the Gen 5 is a clear winner. Sleek, stylish and sophisticated, the Gen 5 is a fashion smartwatch – in our opinion – to be proud of.