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7 Freakishly Cool Skeletons You’ll Wish You Had in Your Closet

Forget about the family secrets and salacious gossip. The skeletons we’re referring to here are nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, wearing one of these could make you the most popular person in the office this Halloween. We’re talking about the skeletonized watch – a timepiece that forgoes the traditional dial face and instead displays the inner workings of the mechanical movement that powers it.

French master watchmaker André-Charles Caron introduced this stripped-down phenomenon in 1760 to give his high-society clients a closer look at the intricate engineering behind a mechanical watch movement. Although it drew intense fascination, it wouldn’t catch on as an official style until more than 200 years later when mechanical watchmakers faced extinction at the height of the Quartz Crisis.

Luxury brands turned to the skeletonized movement to remind customers just how exceptional mechanical timepieces were in relation to their cheaper digital peers, and it worked. Today, collectors consider the skeleton a masterpiece of mechanical craftsmanship and artistry that just happens to tell the time, too.

In light of their singularity and status, skeleton watches rightfully command high, but not always exorbitant, prices (thankfully). For instance, the newest version of the Oris ProPilot X Calibre 115 comes in around $7,500, and the Hamilton Jazzmaster Skeleton Auto is priced at just over $1,300.

7 Freakishly Cool Skeletons You'll Wish You Had in Your Closet

Different Kinds of Skeletons

Skeletonized watches tend to fall into three categories:

  • True Skeleton features the complete movement visible behind the crystal. The plates and bridges also have decorative patterns, designs, or engravings.
  • Openwork also displays the entire movement but doesn’t include any of the artistic design features.
  • Open-Heart shows only the balance wheel (the “heart” of the movement) and sometimes other parts of the escapement through a window on the dial, while the rest of the movement remains hidden.

Unfortunately, collectors and watchmakers often interchange the terms skeleton and openwork, so there is some overlap. But knowing the above terms will help you identify a skeletonized watch even when the word “skeleton” isn’t in the title. Examples are the Royal Oak Double Balance Openwork and the Hamilton Jazzmaster Open Heart.

Without further ado, let’s look at some excellent timepieces. We asked our experienced watch repair technicians which of this year’s new skeletons they would love to find hidden away in a dark corner of their homes. Not surprisingly, there were quite a few.

We narrowed the list down to 7 of their favorites (in no particular order):

  1. Bell & Ross BR01 Cyber Skull Bronze

    Now we realize this is not a true skeleton watch. Bell & Ross’ 2023 BR05 Skeleton Golden fits that bill quite nicely. But the company’s newest Cyber Skull iteration has us mesmerized with its bronze features peering eerily through the transparent crystal. While the skull covers much of the movement, a fair amount is still visible along the sides and through the mouth and third-eye window in the forehead. And, of course, you’ll be enthralled with the animatronic jaw that opens and closes as you wind it. Is this skull talking to you?

  2. Louis Moinet Impulsion

    The Impulsion is the world’s first chronograph mechanism visible on the dial side, and only 28 were made. This brilliant bit of engineering artistry features a laid-bare combination tourbillon and chronograph movement set against an aventurine backdrop, much like a spacecraft amid a starry universe. We’d gladly take this timepiece with us to infinity and beyond.

  3. Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton Ceramic

    The following selection represents the newest member of the Zenith Defy family. The El Primero automatic movement sits in an octagonal black ceramic case and is partially visible behind a skeletonized dial. Don’t be fooled; this isn’t your grandma’s ceramic. The Skyline’s new case and bracelet hold up better than many metals and are highly resistant to scrapes and scratches. Another notable feature – the world’s first 1/10th of a second measure.

  4. Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton

    Who doesn’t love a Cartier, especially one that spotlights a miniature version of the 1907 plane designed by the watch’s namesake, Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont? The aircraft acts as a rotor for the watch’s uniquely-designed calibre 9629 MC automatic movement. The hand-lacquered bezel, case, and interior bridges in navy and yellow gold contrast the clear crystal and case back in stunning fashion. That’s our kind of Halloween treat.

  5. Czapek Antarctique Révélation

    The appropriately named Révélation fully uncovers the beauty of Czapek’s new SXH7 movement for all the world to see and enjoy. The greatest challenge, said CEO Xavier de Roquemorel, was to “completely reverse the escapement” and reconfigure the crown mechanism so the dial side would show what is usually visible through the case back—the result was a new movement explicitly made for the Révélation and a beautiful one, at that.

  6. Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept

    No list would be complete without highlighting the world’s thinnest skeleton (we know, that seems redundant), the Altiplano Ultimate Concept. Only 2mm thick, Piaget’s latest version of this feat of engineering genius brings new meaning to the phrase “barely there.” However, what it lacks in girth, it more than makes up for in beauty and function. The skeletonized 900P-UC manual movement gives you a rectangular crown tucked away into the rim of the case and a 40-hour power reserve. Of course, if you can pull your eyes away from rotating wheels and gears long enough, you can also tell the time on a small dial at the 12 o’clock position.

  7. Rado True Square Skeleton R808

    Featuring a divided dial over a skeletonized R808 automatic movement, the Rado True Square’s design seems right at home in a steampunk novel. The black ceramic case and bridges contrast starkly with the gunmetal gray movement and copper-like wheels, gears, hands, and dial markings, giving the watch a stylishly industrial look. Rado’s bold design packs a powerful punch, too. The movement has an 80-hour power reserve and upgraded protections against magnetic fields and temperature fluctuations. In the immortal words of Huey Lewis, “It’s hip to be square!”

Remember, if you get tricked this All Hallows’ Eve and your Rado timepiece is damaged or stops working, our technicians can handle your Rado repair or any other skeletons you find lying around.