Skeleton watches are a category on their own. Since it is almost Halloween I thought this was a good moment to talk about those watches. But before we talk about it I would like to show you my version.

When you think about what is important for a watch, one of the first things that comes to mind is having a dial with good legibility. A couple of contrasting hands and indicators on there helps as well. With skeleton watches, legibility and other traditional design aspects move to the background and the (hand-made) technique becomes more important. A lot of design is dictated by the technical parts and their shapes. A true design challenge. You just can’t change certain parts to keep the watch operating. Still there is some design freedom. To list some:

  • Decoration on parts (e.g. Guilloché, Perlage or Geneva stripes);
  • The material and the interesting visual effects these will have (e.g. contrast and light/reflection);
  • Create harmony with symmetry. Often there are a lot of options when talking about an in-house movement. Options could be: moving two barrels next to each other or horizontally/vertically concentrate the parts in the middle;
  • Hide or show a specific part. Certain questions can lead to decision:
    • Moving or not?
    • Interesting shape?
    • Vital or not?
    • Does this prevent the viewer from reading time too much?

More or Less?

Showing or hiding is an interesting one. True power lies in the balance. While it has to become a skeleton watch, the viewer still should be able to look up the time in some way. You can hide certain aspects of the movement, but vital parts should be visible to keep the watch attractive and interesting. Let’s briefly review two examples of skeleton watches.

Angelus U20 Ultra-Skeleton Tourbillon

A true unique piece with clear vertically centered concentration of parts. The royal blue supporting parts with border radius definitely create interesting highlights. Good spacing gives the right parts the attention they deserve. Reading time is still pretty easy, also because of the more traditional hour and minute track.

Armin Strom Skeleton Pure

This timepiece shows the power of combining several materials. It does create a nice contrast and variation to the watch face. Also, check out the symmetry that is created by the two curved supports for the barrels. The supports almost seem to wrap around the center where the hour/minute hans are located. You will find more creative lines and shapes on this skeleton watch. For example, you can spot a drop shaped support. To expose even more of the movement the Skeleton Pure is fitted with transparent tracks. Legibility is relatively increased by the raised gold hour markers.

Have A Spooky Halloween!

In this episode I did point out some design aspects of skeleton watches. With those aspects and questions we analysed two examples. What is your opinion on skeleton watches? What’s your favourite? One thing is for sure: it fits the Halloween theme. I hope you enjoyed this episode and see you next time. Happy Halloween!

The skeleton watch illustration is available as signed print via the webshop: