A Brief Guide to Skeleton Watches

Skeleton watches have become increasingly popular in recent years, known for their intricate designs and unique look. While these watches have been around for hundreds of years, they have only recently gained notoriety in the mainstream watchmaking industry. Whether you're a seasoned watch collector or new to the world of timepieces, read on to discover everything you need to know about these fascinating watches.

Early History of Skeleton Watches

The first skeleton watch was invented all the way back in 1760 by André Charles Caron, a French clockmaker who worked for King Louis XV for over 40 years. Caron wanted his customers to see the inner workings of their pocket watches and better understand how the watch functions—thus, the invention of skeletonized timepieces! 

Though skeleton watches didn't become popular until over 200 years later, Caron's approach led to other watchmakers experimenting with removing non-essential portions. This experimentation led to thinner, more compact timepiece designs that we now know as wristwatches! 

A 1960s Reemergence

The late 1960s brought about a massive change to the Swiss watchmaking industry when quartz movements were first introduced. Quartz movement watches were cheaper and more accurate than their mechanical counterparts. To justify the added expense, watchmakers began producing skeleton watches to showcase the intricate technicalities of handmade mechanical movements. 

Skeleton watches are now finally a part of mainstream watchmaking for brands at numerous price points. As technology has improved, these types of timepieces are more intricate and detailed than ever.

Maximalist Works of Art

Skeletal watches feature some of the most elaborately designed dials on the market today—these watches come fully or partially skeletonized; some remove the entire dial, while others reveal portions of the inner workings. Once the dial has been reduced, each inner part is polished and is then either stamped or engraved. The engravings are often detailed works of art, giving skeleton watches a unique look.

Types of Skeleton Watches

Skeleton watches can be divided into three categories: fully skeletonized, open-worked, or open-heart. The classification depends on how much of the dial is removed, leaving the most mechanical parts showing.

Fully Skeletonized Watches

Skeletonized watches completely remove excess metal from the dial, creating a fully transparent view of the watch's internal movement.

Open-worked Watches

These watches feature intricate cutouts but retain some solid portions of the dial. Openworked timepieces display a balance between transparency and opacity.

Open-Heart Watches

Open-heart watches have smaller cutouts on the dial that expose the balance wheel—giving its wearer a glimpse of the "heart" of the movement.

Explore Our Skeleton Watch Selection

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