The 25 Best Skeletonized Watches of 2023
Part art, part analog timekeeping machines, mechanical watches are something to admire. And how to better do that if not by getting yourself a skeleton watch? Almost exclusive to the domain of mechanical and automatic movements, skeleton watches are more of a style of timepieces which reveal the inner workings of that tiny, complex, and captivating mechanical heart of theirs.
While they might not be for everyone, skeleton watches are an absolute gem for those who truly appreciate the outstanding craftsmanship that goes into creating these timepieces.
- What is a Skeleton Watch?
- 25. Swatch Sistem Thought
- 24. Fossil Men’s Townsman
- 23. Zenith Defy El Primero 21
- 22. Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Italdesign
- 21. Stührling Original Automatic
- 20. Hublot Classic Fusion Ultra-Thin Skeleton Titanium
- 19. Raymond Weil Freelancer Skeleton Automatic
- 18. Arnold & Son Time Pyramid
- 17. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Openworked Black Ceramic
- 16. Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées
- 15. Hublot Big Bang Unico Integral
- 14. Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmatic Skeleton Gent Auto
- 13. Piaget Altiplano White Gold Ultra-Thin Skeleton Watch
- 12. Zenith El Primero: Lightweight
- 11. Invicta Men’s Specialty Stainless Steel Mechanical Watch
- 10. Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton Watch
- 9. Louis Moinet Memoris Superlight
- 8. Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 01 Skeleton Watch
- 7. Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton
- 6. Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101
- 5. Bulgari Octo Finissimo Skeleton Watch
- 4. Tissot T-Complication Squelette
- 3. Accutron Spaceview Watch
- 2. ORIS ProPilot X
- 1. Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Chronograph Skeleton
What is a Skeleton Watch?
Also called skeletonized or open worked, skeleton watches feature an open construction which allows for the inner mechanism to be visible under the dial. Usually limited to mechanical movements due to their impressive parts and tiny wheels moving and turning inside, which makes for a fascinating sight as time ticks away. An invention of the 18th century which is making a comeback in recent years.
We’ve taken a look at the recent additions and these are what we think of as the 25 best skeletonized watches of 2023.
The Swatch Sistem Thought is an entry level skeleton watch, or more precisely a semi-skeleton. Part of Swatch’s Sistem 51 collection of machine assembled automatic watches, it’s a simple and casual looking timepiece with a central cutaway that reveals parts of the movement underneath the dial. It’s not something to boast with, but it’s an affordable entry into this world.
Something a little bit more sophisticated, at around the same price point, the Fossil Men’s Townsman is a nice option to those who prefer a more vintage style. With a stainless steel case and a classic leather strap, it’s nothing fancy, but the see-through dial allows for an interesting perspective of the watch’s inner workings.
Just by looking at the price, you can tell that the Zenith Defy El Primero 21 is from another league. With a sporty looks and very light in weight, this watch comes with a nice openworked dial showing as much as possible from the total of 291 movement parts inside.
Made from titanium, with either a rubber strap that keeps the sporty looks or a titanium one for a more classic one, the Defy El Primero 21 features an automatic movement with a power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock and chronograph registers.
22. Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Italdesign
Going further more down the rabbit hole of the skeleton watch world, we have the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Italdesign. It’s a bold sporty watch with an automotive theme, built in collaboration with Italdesign. It features a wonderful tourbillon at 7 o’clock, meets the standards of the Geneva Seal, and is a nice example of modern horology. Mind the spicy price though.
Another interesting budget option is the Stührling Original Automatic. This one comes with a clear cutaway dial and an exhibition case back, allowing the complex mechanism behind to shine and impress.
Hublot is one of the big names in the watch industry and you’ve probably heard of them. Their Classic Fusion Ultra-Thin Skeleton Titanium is a wonderful timepiece with a modern aesthetic combined with a touch of traditional. The movement is encased in a 45mm satin finished titanium case and offers an impressive 90 hour power reserve.
In the Freelancer Skeleton Automatic, Raymond Weil has managed to combine the great looks of an exposed automatic movement – with its mainspring, gear train and escapement – and the nice contrast and legibility of the blue hands on the white dial.
With a more quirky design, the Arnold & Son Time Pyramid takes its inspiration from a British clock back in the 1830s. It features a symmetric in-house movement of which almost everything is visible by removing all but the essential elements and making use of negative space for an interesting minimalistic look.
17. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Openworked Black Ceramic
The Royal Oak Openworked Black Ceramic from Audemars Piguet is one of the most impressive looking skeleton watches we’ve seen, somehow managing to create a rich and eye-catching style without being over the top.
The AP Caliber 3132 movement is wonderfully exposed and in nicely in tone with the black, slate gray and gold colors. The watch has a 41mm case which makes for an impressive presence on the hand.
16. Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées
Boasting a charming traditional design and its superb manual movement with its 127 parts and 21 jewels, the Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées is nothing less than impressive.
The 40mm case and dial with Roman numerals are both made from 18 karat white gold, and the astonishing complex construction of the movement has something mystical about it, something that will capture your gaze for long moments.
The Hublot Big Bang Unico Integral with its emblematic porthole bezel and H shaped screws brings back the looks of the very first Big Band timepieces. The sapphire crystal display reveals a Unico HUB1280 caliber automatic movement visible through the open dial, boasting its chronograph column wheel and a horizontal double-clutch mechanism.
The movement has a 72 hour power reserve and comes in a 42mm case. The bracelet is something that attracts attention, made from triple links with nicely shaped edges.
Staying true to the brand’s heritage, Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmatic Skeleton Gent Auto combines the classy looks with a contemporary sophistication. Encased in a 40mm stainless steel case with an open back, the watch allows a peek into Hamilton’s superb craftsmanship, with its escapement, hairspring and barrel on display behind the open dial.
13. Piaget Altiplano White Gold Ultra-Thin Skeleton Watch
With a 5.34mm thickness of the case and only 2.4mm for the movement inside, the Piaget Altiplano White Gold Ultra-Thin Skeleton is the thinnest skeleton watch in the world. And having the thinnest self winding movement in the world does mean astonishing craftsmanship.
The 38mm 18 karat white-gold case embraces a superbly engraved silvered dial, and paired with the black alligator straps, it makes for a timeless fashion statement.
Weighing only 15.9 grams, the Zenith El Primero: Lightweight uses the lightest chronograph caliber on the market today. The movement is encased in a 45mm ceramicised aluminum and carbon case, further reducing the overall weight of the watch.
But making it light doesn’t mean sacrificing the quality of the inner mechanism – which contains no less than 328 parts and 31 jewels – or the modern and stylish design. The display looks nice and sleek, and the black rubber strap fits the style.
Probably the most budget friendly entry on our list at just a little under $65, the Invicta Men’s Specialty Stainless Steel Mechanical Hand Wind watch features a classical dial with clear, black on white Roman numerals on the outside, while the interior opens up to showcase the hand-wound movement that powers it.
It won’t make heads turn to the wearer’s wrist, but it’s a worthy option for those who want a very affordable skeleton watch.
10. Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton Watch
The Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton watch keeps the unique style of the well established luxury brand, with its 18 karat white-gold face, the blue sword shaped hands and Roman numerals superbly integrated into the movement. The black alligator skin strap adds to the overall elegance of the timepiece.
9. Louis Moinet Memoris Superlight
Available in a limited edition of only 28 watches and with an on request price tag, the Louis Moinet Memoris Superlight speaks opulence. The watch has a very impressive design, with a movement comprised of an automatic main base and a uniquely positioned chronograph, which is on the dial side instead of the usual position to the back.
The Memoris Superlight comes in a few variations, all in a 46mm titanium case, with different colorways.
Characterized by top mechanical precision and inspired by high performance motorsports, the Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 01 Skeleton watch features a modern design with a masculine look. The 39 jewel movement inside shows its amazing complexity through an interesting skeleton black and white dial with a nice touch of red.
The movement is wrapped in a modular case made from different layered materials and a stunning black titanium coated stainless steel finish.
7. Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton
An astonishing combination of high-end craftsmanship, modern design and some of the best materials in the industry, the limited edition Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton brings the brand’s nautical heritage to a new level of watchmaking. The Ulysse Nardin Caliber UN-372, a skeleton version of the base Caliber UN-171, sits inside a 44mm blue PVD coated case.
The stunning dive-scale bezel is made from blue Carbonium, a material used in the aeronautics industry due to its high performance and very light weight. The multi layer dial is dominated by a beautiful blue PVD “X” motif. This might be one of the coolest dive watches out there.
6. Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101
The Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101 is an avant-garde timepiece featuring a unique design which borrows motifs from architecture, giving it a three dimensional appearance. The lack of symmetry is compensated by the abstract approach to time telling. The self-winding movement beats inside a 47mm 18 karat pink gold case, perfectly in tone with the anthracite and silver dial.
5. Bulgari Octo Finissimo Skeleton Watch
With an impressive aesthetic and the super thin 2.35mm manually wound BLV-128SK Finissimo movement, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Skeleton Power Reserve is a masterpiece. It features a superb openworked blackened dial design under the sapphire crystal, through which the inner workings are exposed to the eye of the wearer.
The Swiss made Tissot T-Complication Squelette is another fine skeleton watch on the lower end of the budget spectrum. Its modern aesthetics showcase magnificent details that please the eye from inside the hand-wound movement. The 43mm case comes with a black leather strap, which makes the timepiece fit with just about any outfit.
3. Accutron Spaceview Watch
One of the best looking skeleton watches in our opinion, which combined with the relatively medium price makes for a wonderful option. The Accutron Spaceview looks classical on the outside, with a 43.5mm titanium case covered by a nice domed crystal, but super innovative on the inside.
It’s powered by two electrostatic spinning turbines similar to a mechanical rotor, which then transfer the power to an accumulator at 10 o’clock. An innovative and controversial timepiece worth taking into consideration.
The ORIS ProPilot X is everything you want it to be. It’s elegant, sporty, modern, complex, while at the same time managing to remain a very practical timepiece.
It comes in a lightweight 44mm titanium case, with an in-house Caliber 115 movement that has a whooping 10 day power reserve stored in a massive mainspring visible in the top side of the display. The finish is dominated by matter silvers and dark grays, which give it a serious, almost spartan style.
There’s been an incredible attention to detail put in the making of the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Chronograph Skeleton. This timepiece somehow manages to perfectly combine both high end technologies and a superb design without compromising anything.
It features a 30 minute chronograph counter with a 48 hour power reserve, carefully showcased inside the 45mm stainless steel case. Telling the time are the diamond cut hour and minute hands with a superb touch of blue for the seconds hand of the chronograph.
There you have it. These are the 25 best skeletonized watches in our opinion. Of course, there are thousands of wonderful timepieces like these ones out there, but we’ve tried to include the best of the best, looking at every price range, from super affordable options to high-end timekeeping marvels.