Wattens is located in the Lower Inn Valley of North Tyrol, about 13 km (8.1 mi) east of Innsbruck. The municipal area stretches from the southern shore of the Inn River into the Wattental side valley, leading to the Wattentaler Lizum head within the Tux Alps range.
It has access to the Inn Valley Autobahn (A 12) and is served by ÖBB trains at Fritzens-Wattens station on the Lower Inn Valley Railway line.
Archaeological settlement traces date back to the La Tène era; the name Wattens was first mentioned in a 930 deed, when the area was part of the German stem duchy of Bavaria. The region was held by the Counts of Tyrol from the 12th century onwards and acquired by the Austrian House of Habsburg in 1363.
In 1559 a paper mill was established at Wattens, the first in the Austrian lands. The local economy was further promoted, when in 1895 Daniel Swarovski (1862–1956), a glass cutter from Jiřetín pod Bukovou in Bohemia, settled here to start the production of crystal jewelry. Wattens received market rights in 1985.