Today, we’re going to take a look at a brand that likely everyone reading these pages is familiar with – Fossil. I’d hazard a guess that most of us have at one time or another had a Fossil watch in our collections, and for good reason – they’ve got a variety of different styles to accommodate just about any taste, and they come in at affordable price points. As of late, they’ve been expanding their offerings to encompass automatic movements, and we’ll be reviewing one of those models today.


The model in question is their Dean Automatic (ref ME3039), which I suppose I’d call one of their entry-level automatics, as it doesn’t fit into their “Swiss” mechanical lineup. As the Dean is coming from Fossil, style is I think one of the driving factors for how this watch was created.


Which isn’t to say that functionality is missing – you do get subseconds (down at 6 o’clock), a power reserve readout (up there at 12 o’clock), and a date subdial over at 2 o’clock. This is one of the first components that didn’t sit well with me. While I can’t put my finger on it, I’ve just never quite been a fan of date displays that are set via a separate pusher. Here, I think Fossil could have removed that, and ended up with a cleaner dial (and perhaps the opportunity to shrink the case a mm or two).


The handset spinning over the multi-layer (and -texture) dial are well proportioned to one another (and lume filled, which you can’t always count on at this price point). That said, it seems like they could stand to be a touch larger (wider and longer) given the larger case size (45mm by 14mm thick). That leaves us with what I felt was the surprise feature of the dial for me.


I went into this review totally expecting the power reserve indicator to be my favorite feature (and I do like it). However, the applied numerals and indices are what captured me the most on this dial. For one, you have a slightly different font in use (check out the 4); you also get a great dimensional effect from them being raised and having a polished outline. If there was one component of the dial I had to pick out and say “well done”, these numerals would be the choice.


All this is topped off with a domed crystal (mineral I can only assume, as the material wasn’t called out), and mated to a color-matched bracelet that slips into the 22mm lugs. The bracelets deployant clasp was another nice surprise. Not so much in terms of a clever latching mechanism or anything like that, but for how slim it is. The clasp itself isn’t much thicker than the solid links, which keeps the bulk to a minimum under your wrist – something I’ve really come to appreciate in a deployant.


In daily wear, the watch was quite comfortable to wear. No, at 174g, it’s not a lightweight, but I didn’t feel weighed down at all. And even though it’s a larger case (as compared to my wrist), the curved lugs dropped down enough that there weren’t massive air gaps between my wrist and the watch, and I wasn’t overly concerned about it getting snagged on things. Day or night, I found the dial easy to read (well, except for the date).


If you’re the sort who’s wont to play around with the bezel on their watch throughout the day, you’ll be disappointed here. While it looks like it might be functionally grippy, the metal and soft-touch plastic are really there as a design exercise – breaking up what would otherwise be a smooth expanse of metal. This is a design feature that I’m torn over. On one hand, a functional bezel (done properly) would be a nice value-add. Then again, removing the textured bits would make for a cleaner look. I guess it all boils down to what you’d want to use the watch for.


In my eyes, this is a decent everyday sort of a piece, especially for someone who wants to “step up” from a quartz model. Obviously, Fossil has great name recognition, and they’re likely to be found in your mall of choice, meaning a broader swath of the public will be getting exposure to mechanical watches – always a good thing in my opinion. For those more knowledgeable of the watch world (such as you, dear reader) you might balk at the $255 MSRP, as that’s firmly in Seiko Monster territory. However, some searching around on the internet, and you can find this model for under $160 (on Amazon) which I think is quite a palatable price for what’s on offer here.


No, this isn’t a watch that’s going to set the horological world on fire. However, positioned as a sort of stepping stone from fashion-oriented quartz pieces into the world of mechanical watches, this is a nice little option to have. I will admit, though I love my Orange Monster, the styling (and sizing) aren’t for everyone. On the other hand, the Fossil Dean does have a design that hews to some of the more popular aesthetics there are in the market for the, say, under $300 pricepoint. In that regard, I say it’s perfectly positioned – we’ll just call it a gateway watch.


Review Summary

  • Brand & Model: Fossil Dean (ref. ME3039)
  • Price: $255 MSRP (but found at lower prices online)
  • Who’s it for?: The guy looking to graduate from fashion-oriented quartz watches, but wants to stick with a brand he’s familiar with
  • Would I wear it?: On occasion, though it’s a tad larger than my current tastes have led
  • What I’d change: I’d love to see the date wheel removed – either in favor of a cleaner dial, or the addition of a color-matched date disc
  • The best thing about it: The unique font used for the raised numerals – gives things a different look for sure


ByPatrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

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