Back to Basics: What is a Skeleton Watch?

What is a Skeleton Watch?

What is a Skeleton Watch?

From Bulgari to Chanel to Hublot to Jaquet Droz to TAG Heuer and so many other luxury watch brands, there were plenty of new skeleton watches to choose from at Baselworld 2018. Skeleton watches are certainly not new, but rather a very traditional design that watchmakers have used for a long time. But what is a skeleton watch? Read on to find out and to see some great examples of skeleton watches.

What is a Skeleton Watch?

A skeleton watch, also sometimes referred to as an open-worked watch, is one that is designed to show off one of the most important parts of a mechanical watch–the movement! Essentially, the dial and sometimes the movement itself, it stripped down to the bare bones to offer a view of the mechanics within. We also see some examples where the caseback is transparent so that light can shine right through the watch, emphasizing the skeleton form.

It’s a tricky balance to offer a dial that is open-worked, while still legible enough to indicate the time. Some watchmakers cleverly go for a double-duty approach where parts of the movement also act as hour markers. While some watch companies like to pare down the movements for a minimalist angle, others prefer to really highlight the movement by using decorative details and contrasting metals.

It’s important to note that skeleton watches often also go by their French name, “squelette.” Now that we’ve explained what is a skeleton watch, let’s dig into some great examples of this particular style of luxury timepiece.

IWC Portuguese Minute Repeater Skeleton

What is a skeleton watch? IWC Minute Repeater Skeleton

What is a skeleton watch? IWC Minute Repeater Skeleton

An incredible display of haute horology skill, this IWC Portuguese Minute Repeater Skeleton watch not only offers the incredible open-worked dial, but the minute repeating function too. Just a quick reminder, a minute repeater chimes the hours, quarters, and minutes on demand typically via a slide the case.

The IWC ref. IW524101 watch sports an 18k rose gold in the characteristic 42.5mm case size of the Portuguese collection. There is, of course, a skeletonized dial for a spectacular view of the intricate mechanisms dancing within. In fact, when the slide is activated, not only can you hear the time of the watch through a series of different tone gongs, but you can also see the hammers in action hitting away to produce those sounds.

IWC Minute Repeater Skeleton

IWC Minute Repeater Skeleton

There is on the periphery of the dial a subtle chapter ring marking each minute for ease of legibility. At the center of the dial is the pair of hour and minute leaf-style hands. Finishing off the limited-edition timepiece is an elegant leather strap with an 18k rose gold deployant clasp.

Harry Winston Midnight Skeleton

What is a Skeleton Watch? Harry Winston Midnight Skeleton

What is a skeleton watch? Harry Winston Midnight Skeleton

The Midnight collection from Harry Winston is an homage to timeless watchmaking traditions with an emphasis on elegance, exclusively available in either white or rose gold. This particular version, the 18k rose gold Harry Winston Midnight Skeleton watch, is both minimal as a time-only timepiece, yet intricately complex thanks to the open worked dial and mechanical movement powering the watch.

Harry Winston Midnight Skeleton

Harry Winston Midnight Skeleton

Housed within the 42mm rose gold round case is a sumptuous dial that flaunts the beautifully decorated Caliber HW3001 automatic movement with 42 hours of power reserve. Contrasting with the satin-brushed and engraved details and flurry of jewels of the movement, are the simple rose gold minute and hour hands.

Dressed with a classic brown leather strap fitted with an 18k rose gold tang buckle, this is one Harry Winston men’s watch that proudly bares it all.

 

Corum Bubble 47 Squelette

What is a skeleton watch? Corum Bubble 47 Squelette

What is a skeleton watch? Corum Bubble 47 Squelette

One of Corum’s more fun timepieces, the Bubble collection takes its name from the dramatic domed sapphire crystal protecting the face of the watch. And this is no small watch. With a massive 47mm case size and the domed sapphire, the Corum Bubble 47 Squelette offers plenty of presence on the wrist.

To tackle legibility, the skeletonized dial has the oversized and luminescent hour and minute hands, accompanied by a seconds hand. There’s also the indispensable minute chapter ring along the outer rim of the dial. From both the front and back of the watch we see the Caliber CO 082 automatic movement with 42 hours of power reserve.

Corum Bubble 47 Squelette

Corum Bubble 47 Squelette

Crafted in stainless steel rather than a precious metal, and equipped with a black leather strap, it’s refreshing to see a skeleton watch that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

 

If you’re looking for a watch that incorporates the inner mechanisms into the overall design, then a skeleton watch may be just what you need. Browse our selection of fine pre-owned skeleton watches at Gray & Sons so you can pore over all the little gears, wheels, and springs that make your watch tick!

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