Skeleton-work is often referred to as the art of transparency.
The focal point of a traditional watch is usually the dial. In skeleton watches, dial and movement are stripped to the bare essentials, leaving the inner workings of the watch on display.
Despite the apparent simplicity, skeletonising a watch is an art that makes the highest demands on the craftsman’s skills. Traditionally the watchmaker would drill and cut away the plate, bridges, barrel and other mechanical parts, revealing as much of the watch’s interior as possible. Then working with each component in turn, He would create subtle contrasts between the polished finish of hand-chamfering and the matt effect of hand-drawing. After this, the engraver would meticulously incises and sculpt the metal, to embellish the mechanical parts with original patterns.
On the other hand, some of today’s skeleton watches are modern and edgy, taking a less-is-more approach.
Watch skeletonisation has a purely aesthetic purpose, but it adds an additional complication to a solid watch movement and they are highly praised by watch fans who appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry of a well-made piece.
Here is a selection of some of my favourite skeleton watches, You are welcome to comment on which is your favourite.
- Roger Dubuis Excalibur Skeleton Double Flying Tourbillon
Swiss-made, 45mm rose gold case, automatic movement, satin-brushed dial, sapphire crystal glass and water resistant to 50 metres.
Refining the plates and bridges to remove everything but the essential elements, has made this highly technical movement into a fascinating light and airy structure. The skeleton dial is a sight to behold, with the rose gold of the outer case adding finesse to the overall look of the watch. A brown alligator leather strap finishes this watch perfectly.
Price £ 235.500 - $362.000
2. Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Skeleton Flying Tourbillon
Roger Dubuis is calling 2015 the year of the “Skeleton”. The company plans to concentrate on the art of skeletonisation and increase the number of open case models in their line up for 2015. This includes the Excalibur Spider Skeleton Flying Tourbillon, a watch that features a manual winding RD505SQ movement along with a flying tourbilllon at the lower portion of the watch. The case is 45mm across and 13.75mm high made of a specially processed titanium which contributes to a significant weight saving and is matched with a black rubber strap.
Price £107.00 - $165.500
3. Richard Mille RM 056 Felipe Massa Sapphire Tourbillon Split Seconds
The entire case- front bezel, caseband, back bezel- of the Split seconds Competition Chronograph RM 056 Felipe Massa Sapphire are cut and milled from solid blocks of sapphire. The production of this sapphire structure took years of testing, and machining these components was the biggest challenge faced by Richard Mille.
This highly limited edition watch, just 5 pieces made, requires, according to Richard Mille, over 1000 hours to produce.
Manually wound tourbillon movement with hours, minutes, split second chronograph and a power reserve, torque and function indicators.
Skeletonised Titanium baseplate.
Torque limiting crown, to prevent accidental over-winding of the watch.
Price £1 million - $1.65 million
4. Cartier Santos-Dumont skeleton XL
The Cartier Santos-Dumont skeleton watch combines classic elegance and refinement with a clean modern design. It comes with a mechanical movement with manual winding consisting of 138 parts and including 20 jewles.
White gold case, crown set with a faceted sapphire, dial with roman numerals formed by the skeletonised bridges, sword shaped hands in blued steel, strap in black alligator skin with double adjustment folding buckle in 18K white gold, sapphire case back, power reserve of approx. 72 hours, water resistant to 30 metres.
Price £39.000 - $60.000
5. Frank Muller 7 Days Power Reserve Skeleton
Detailed craftsmanship and pioneering mechanism, the 7 days Power Reserve skeleton is an undeniable Franck Muller classic. Embracing a new skeletonised movement, this watch is the quintessential esample of the art of watchmaking.
The uniqueness of this skeletonized piece is the movement, caliber 1740, featuring a 7 days Power reserve. Powered by 2 barrels, this mechanical movement is precisely designed, manufactured and decorated in-house. The bridges are hand-chamfered, an essential element of decoration in Haute Horlogerie, and is the result of long and meticulous work by master craftsman.
152 components, 21 jewels, 18k gold case, hand-sewn black alligator strap,
Price £35.000 - $55.000
6. Armin Strom One Week Skeleton
The independent Swiss Watch Manufacture Armin Strom specializes in open-worked and skeleton mechanical timepieces reminiscent of bygone eras.
In the One Week Skeleton the mainplate, gear train and bridges have been extensively skeletonized and what remained has been extensively hand engraved.
18K rose gold case, sapphire crystal and case back with anti-reflective treatment, black or brown alligator strap with 18K rose gold buckle, 146 individual components, water resistant to 50 metres.
Limited edition to 50 pieces
Price £32.000 - $50.000