What is a Skeleton Watch?

With a skeleton watch – also called skeleton or squelette – the mechanism, which is normally hidden in the watch case, is fully or partially visible. This type of timepiece has been around since the 18th century and is still made today, in both classic and modern styles.

A real skeleton watch is a watch of which all moving parts are visible because the front of the watch does not contain a dial, and the back is also transparent. There are also ‘openwork’ watches that contain a (small) window in the dial, through which part of the movement is visible. These are often also referred to as skeleton or open heart. Usually it is a special part that has been made visible, such as a tourbillion.

Although the movement is visible, watches with only a transparent back/view back are not called skeletons.

Davis skeleton watch
▴ Davis skeleton watch

Maurice Lacroix skeleton watch
▴ Maurice Lacroix skeleton watch

Beautifully tooled skeleton movement

True ‘skeletonization’ involves cutting off non-essential metal parts of the movement, leaving only a functional, bare ‘skeleton’ of the movement. Often the remaining parts are polished and decorated with ornate engravings. Each technique requires the use of special tools and skills that have a centuries-old tradition. With a skeleton watch you really have a special work of art in your hands.

Edox skeleton watch
▴ Edox skeleton watch

Maserati skeleton watch
▴ Maserati skeleton watch

Traditional or Modern

Because Skeleton watches have been around for so long and are made according to proven methods, the designs are often traditional and stylish. But also modern watches are increasingly offered in a transparent or openwork version.

These skeleton watches are usually automatic or manual winders, but there are also Quartz skeleton watches. Skeleton watches are available for every budget. View our selection of skeleton watches here.


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