Skeleton watches – Skeleton: a watch by any other name – Trends & style

A very long time ago, skeleton watches were actually skeletonized. The openwork movements were not born like this, but full and solid. They had to be cut from within, in their very material. Craftsmen from Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, Breguet and Patek Philippe hollowed out the brass, using a hacksaw and a file, to transform it into metallic lace. Somewhere in the 2000s there was a tipping point. Watchmaking parts begin to be skeletonized, that is to say directly machined in the skeleton state. And so the movements were conceived and born half full of emptiness. The pioneering work of Roger Dubuis, Richard Mille, Arnold & Son or Cartier is now profound. Especially since these four, to name but a few, belong to very different watchmaking circles.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Monobalance © David Chokron/WorldTempus

This native variety almost immediately affected the way brands think about their product portfolio. Each had to offer a certain number of specialties. They are committed to defining their own version of a skeleton watch, their own style and openwork shapes and their own balance between full and empty. And that in turn quickly led to a definition of color codes. As a result, the art of the skeleton watch has now reached a plateau of maturity, recognizable by the variety of choices it encapsulates. Notwithstanding the prices, a skeleton watch is a watch by any other name: it follows the same rules, trends and zeitgeist as the others, integrated steel bracelet included.

Skeleton: a watch by another name

Richard Mille RM 65-01 © David Chokron/WorldTempus

A skeleton can be anything and everything. It knows how to be sporty chic, like the Overseas Tourbillon Skeleton, or hardcore like an RM 65-01. Radical like a Hublot Spirit Of Big Bang Tourbillon Carbon Green 42mm, or refined like a Tonda PF Skeleton. Strictly metallic like Grand Seiko, or abundantly lacquered like a Cartier Tank Chinoise. Purely functional, composed of lightweight components resting on an Angelus carbon mainplate, or adorned with signature motifs, such as the 5-pointed star of the new Excalibur Monobalance, which hangs over the movement.

Skeleton: a watch by another name

Cartier Tank Chinoise © David Chorkon/WorldTempus

The relatively new part is the fact that the latter is now colored from the inside. It was already partly thanks to the traditional repertoire of galvanic treatments. They filed shades of gray and gold which are now complemented by the PVD color range. Blue at Piaget, red at Chanel, purple at Zenith, the old bag of bones is incredibly lively.

About Robert L. Thomas

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