12 Best Skeleton Watches in 2019 – Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

Breguet skeleton watch

A skeleton watch is perfect for gentlemen who value stylish timepieces and their craftsmanship.

Owning a skeleton watch gives you the pleasure to see what goes on within your timepiece. It’s like seeing exceptional engineering in motion, which is no doubt intriguing.

Want an extraordinary watch that blends modern and classic aesthetics well? Great! Our watch reviews on the best skeleton watches for men on the market will spoil you for choice.

Enjoy the ride.

Skeleton watches are mechanical watches. Their moving parts can be seen either through the back, front or a small cut defining the dial.

There’s also a term known as ‘true skeletonization.’ This is the clipping away of all non-vital metal on the wheel train, bridge and other mechanical parts of the timepiece. The result is a timepiece left with only a skeleton of its movement that’s needed for its functionality.

Most times, this trimmed movement is usually adorned with etchings. This can be without or with a dial face that will let you see the movement.

These watches have been around for a while. Yet, watchmakers seem to be getting more creative with their display.

You’ll always feel satisfied as you watch your timepiece tick.

How Do Skeleton Watches Work?

As we mentioned earlier, skeleton watches are mechanical watches. So, they work like mechanical watches. The difference is that they’re openwork watches.

Like mechanical watches, they make use of a mechanical mechanism to measure time passage. They’re driven by a mainspring which has to be wound regularly.

The force of a skeleton watch is conveyed through a series of gears to give power to its balance wheel. The balance wheel is a weighted wheel that swings back and forth at a steady rate.

The escapements on these timepieces release their wheels to move forward a bit with each of the balance wheel’s swing. This moves the hands forward at a steady rate as well.

Are Skeleton Watches Worth the Money?

Like mechanical watches, it’s very likely to find a lot of people calling them outdated. Yet, a lot of people who appreciate fine craftsmanship and tradition wear mechanical watches.

So, our answer…Yes. Skeleton watches are beautiful mechanical watches that are worth your money. Just see it as payment for the work invested in their designs and for their great engineering wonders.

Skeleton watches have a lot of complications in their mechanisms but are still great timekeepers. The complications in their movement increase the complexity of their designs. This makes them good investments.

They’re also status symbols and quite durable. Most skeleton watches are costly, but there will always be one that works for your budget.

Let’s take a look at some of the best skeleton watches for the year 2019.

Comparison Table

Product

Case diameter

Band

Water Resistance

Price

breguet-tradition-white-gold

Case diameter: 37 mm

37 mm

Band: Leather

Leather

Water Resistance: 30 meters (100 feet)

30 meters (100 feet)

audemars piguet-millenary-4101-18kt-rose-gold-skeleton

Case diameter: 47 mm

47 mm

Band: Leather

Leather

Water Resistance: 20 meters (65 feet)

20 meters (65 feet)

cartier-santos-de-cartier-skeleton

Case diameter: 39.8 mm

39.8 mm

Band: Leather

Leather

Water Resistance: 100 meters (330 feet)

100 meters (330 feet)

hublot-classic-fusion-ultra-thin-skeleton-titanium

Case diameter: 45 mm

45 mm

Band: Leather

Leather

Water Resistance: 50 meters (165 feet)

50 meters (165 feet)

maurice-lacroix-masterpiece-chronograph-skeleton

Case diameter: 45 mm

45 mm

Band: Leather

Leather

Water Resistance: 100 meters (330 feet)

100 meters (330 feet)

ulysse-nardin-executive-skeleton-tourbillon

Case diameter: 45 mm

45 mm

Band: Leather

Leather

Water Resistance: 30 meters (100 feet)

30 meters (100 feet)

zenith-defy-el-primero-21

Case diameter: 44 mm

44 mm

Band: Ceramic

Ceramic

Water Resistance: 100 meters (330 feet)

100 meters (330 feet)

oris-artix-gt-skeleton

Case diameter: 42 mm

42 mm

Band: Leather

Leather

Water Resistance: 100 meters (330 feet)

100 meters (330 feet)

tag-heuer-carrera-senna-special-edition

Case diameter: 43 mm

43 mm

Band: Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Water Resistance: 100 meters (330 feet)

100 meters (330 feet)

tissot-chemin-des-tourelles-squelette

Case diameter: 42 mm

42 mm

Band: Leather

Leather

Water Resistance: 50 meters (165 feet)

50 meters (165 feet)

hamilton-jazzmaster-viewmatic-automatic-skeleton

Case diameter: 40 mm

40 mm

Band: Leather

Leather

Water Resistance: 50 meters (165 feet)

50 meters (165 feet)

bulova-classic-automatic

Case diameter: 46 mm

46 mm

Band: Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Water Resistance: 100 meters (330 feet)

100 meters (330 feet)

The 12 Best Skeleton Watches of 2019

1. Breguet Tradition Skeleton 18kt White Gold

FEATURES

Case Diameter: 37 mm
Case Thickness: 11.8 mm
Case Material: 18kt White Gold, sapphire exhibition case back 
Dial Window: Scratch resistant sapphire crystal
Dial Color: Black skeleton dial
Bezel Material: 18kt white gold
Band Material & Color: Black alligator leather
Movement: In-house hand wind movement (Breguet Caliber 507 DR)
Water Resistance: 30 m (100 feet)

If you’ve got a soft spot for a skeleton watch that mixes elegance, style and heritage, then this is the one. You’ll get a lot of attention with the Breguet Tradition Black Skeleton watch.

This extraordinary timepiece, in 18kt white gold, features an off-center hour and minutes display back subdial decorated with a guilloche pattern at 12 o’clock. This leaves you drenched in luxury as you fasten its black alligator leather band to your wrist.

Its pure screws and gears depict a beautiful image in its jet-black dial with white painted roman numeral hour markers and “Breguet” style hands. The dial is protected by scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and the exhibition case back is also made of sapphire. The watch also features a power reserve indicator.

The Breguet Tradition Black Skeleton is a hand-winding luxury watch, with a 50-hour power reserve and 30 meters water-resistance, that will tell the world around you that the fine dance between function and form isn’t strange to you.

Breguet is a renowned luxury watch brand known for its excellent and quality timepieces.

PROS

  • A unique luxury timepiece with amazing aesthetics.
  • Extraordinary craftsmanship details.
  • High quality materials.
  • Superbe in-house hand winding movement.
  • Great value for money for a high-quality luxury watch.

CONS

  • The full polished finish may be susceptible to scratches.

2. Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101 18kt Rose Gold Skeleton

FEATURES

Case Diameter: 47 mm
Case Thickness: 13 mm
Case Material: 18kt rose gold case, glareproofed sapphire crystal and caseback
Dial Window: Scratch resistant sapphire crystal
Dial Color: Anthracite and silver-toned dial
Bezel Material: 18kt carat rose gold
Band Material & Color: Brown alligator strap with 18kt rose gold folding clasp
Movement: In-house automatic movement (Caliber 4101​)​
Water Resistance: 20 m (66 feet)

At first glance, you’ll see how every inch of this analog display skeleton watch drips with stylish excellence. If you’re a serious watch collector, the Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101 shouldn’t pass you by.

We can safely say that this skeleton watch by the Audemars Piguet is one of the most excellent offerings on the market.

With the glare-proof sapphire crystals on the timepiece’s front and back, you can get a look at what’s within your timepiece. The best part … it’s in reverse!

The watch brand upturned the movement of this timepiece in a way that caused the dial to display what you’d usually see on its rear. The dial is right-aligned, with skeletonized rose gold hands and warped asymmetrical Roman numerals.

It runs on an in-house automatic movement, Caliber 4101, that guarantees you of a 60-hour power reserve.

It’s handsomely crafted of red gold with an 18kt rose gold finishing. It is complemented by the timepiece’s elegant brown crocodile strap.

PROS

  • Beautiful luxury watch.
  • Absolutely gorgeous dial.
  • The uniqueness of the oval shape case.
  • Great legibility for a skeleton watch.
  • Excellency of the materials.

CONS

  • Some people might find 47 mm too wide.

3. Cartier Santos de Cartier Skeleton

FEATURES

Case Diameter: 39.8 mm
Case Thickness: 9.08 mm
Case Material: Black ADLC steel case, sapphire crystal case back 
Dial Window: Scratch resistant sapphire crystal
Dial Color: Black skeleton dial
Bezel Material: Black ADLC steel
Band Material & Color: Black alligator leather
Movement: Mechanical movement with manual winding (Caliber 9612 MC​)​
Water Resistance: 30 m (100 feet)

The Santos de Cartier was launched by the Cartier watch brand in 2018. The thin bracelets and cases make this timepiece quite comfortable on the wrist.

This skeleton watch houses an in-house mechanical movement [9612 MC Cartier caliber], with a 72-hours power reserve.

The finishing looks better as you get closer to this timepiece. We love how the dial face and brushed edges reflect the color of its surrounding light.

During the day, this timepiece is visually stunning with a stealth look while it seems to come alive at night. Thanks to its Lume-packed hands.

If you’re looking for a skeleton watch that’s perfect for a dress watch, then you’ve got a winner. If you also love sleeves or prefer your skeleton watch being a little more “out of the way,” then this timepiece will appeal to you.

PROS

  • Gorgeous watch with sleek designs.
  • Comfortable on the wrist with attractive leather straps.
  • The power reserve is up to 72 hours.

CONS

  • The curved front crystal’s viewing experience isn't so sharp.

4. Hublot Classic Fusion Ultra Thin Skeleton Titanium

FEATURES

Case Diameter: 45 mm
Case Material: Polished and satin-finished titanium
Dial Window: Anti-reflective sapphire crystal
Dial Color: Skeleton dial
Bezel Material: Satin-finished titanium with 6 H-shaped titanium screws
Band Material & Color: Black alligator leather, stainless steel deployant buckle clasp
Movement: In-house manual winding movement (HUB1300.4​)​
Water Resistance: 50 m (165 feet)

The Hublot Classic Fusion Ultra Tin Skeleton watch will give you full watch disclosure as close as it gets. This timepiece brings the classic art of watchmaking into our modern 21st century.

This analog display skeleton watch has a unique aesthetic to it. This elegance gives the stylish, masculine appearance you’ll need to transform from your office to other functions easily.

The gorgeous, sharp case is made from neatly polished and satin-finished titanium. This will speak to your status as the wearer.

The in-house mechanical hand winding movement in this timepiece gives an impressive 90-hour power reserve.

Looking for a skeleton watch that will add an air of sophistication or a classic touch while on your wrist? Then this is for you.

PROS

  • An elegant timepiece that's a perfect fit on the wrist.
  • A well-built timepiece with classy designs.
  • The power reserve is up to 90 hours.

CONS

  • Water-resistance is at 50 meters (165 feet).

5. Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Chronograph Skeleton

FEATURES

Case Diameter: 45 mm
Case Material: Stainless steel, see-through case back
Dial Window: Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
Dial Color: Silver skeleton dial
Bezel Material: 18k rose gold bezel
Band Material & Color: Brown crocodile leather, folding clasp in stainless steel
Movement: Automatic movement (Caliber ML206)
Water Resistance: 100 m (330 feet)

The Maurice Lacroix Swiss watch brand has been around for about 40 years. This chronograph skeleton timepiece by the brand is just like the name… a masterpiece. We love how this timepiece portrays the brand’s noble skills in both functionality and design.

It comes with diamond-cut hands and a 45-mm stainless steel case that’s covered by an anti-reflective sapphire dial window. Through this curved dial window, you will see the Caliber ML 206 skeleton, an automatic self-wind that houses 25 jewels. With this, you’re guaranteed of a 48-hour power reserve.

You’ll also get to see the bridges, disks and wheels behind the 30-minute chronograph counter on this timepiece. You can indulge in water activities that don’t exceed 100 meters (330 feet) with this timepiece on.

You’ve got to love how the alligator leather strap on this timepiece fits in with the stainless steel bezel. This timepiece will easily cloud your imaginations and make you a lover of mechanical watches.

PROS

  • Gorgeous classy watch.
  • Lume-packed hands for visibility in low light.
  • Perfect fit on the wrist.

CONS

  • Some people take issue with the lack of hour markers.
  • 45 mm might be too big on smaller wrists.

6. Ulysse Nardin Executive Skeleton Tourbillon

FEATURES

Case Diameter: 45 mm
Case Thickness: 12.6 mm
Case Material: Satin-finished titanium
Dial Window: Scratch resistant sapphire crystal on both sides
Dial Color: Skeleton dial
Bezel Material: Matte black ceramic
Band Material & Color: Leather Black Strap – Veal
Movement: In-house hand wind movement (Caliber UN-171​)​
Water Resistance: 30 m (100 feet)

The Ulysse Nardin luxury Swiss watch brand is well-known for its high precision marine chronometers.

This hand-winding skeleton watch is made of a long-lasting titanium case and a ceramic bezel. The mechanical movement on this timepiece possesses a flying tourbillon. This contains a balance spring, silicon escapement wheel and an anchor.

We love how the bold designs of this timepiece reveal the true beauty of its inner workings. The designs found a way of making the large Roman numerals, sword-shaped hands and elevated bridge ‘sing’ with power.

The manual winding movement of this analog timepiece boasts of an impressive 170-hour power reserve. You’ll find the power reserve indicator below the 12 o’clock mark.

Don’t be deceived by its 45-mm tourbillon, this timepiece will feel ultra-light on your wrist.

PROS

  • A Tourbillon watch, a complication of traditional watchmaking, with an amazing modern design.
  • Handsome, luminous watch.
  • Ultra-lightweight.
  • Impressive 170-hour power reserve.

CONS

  • Low water resistance of 30 meters (100 feet).

7. Zenith Defy El Primero 21

FEATURES

Case Diameter: 44 mm
Case Thickness: 11.8 mm
Case Material: Ceramic, see-through sapphire case back
Dial Window: Anti-reflective sapphire crystal
Dial Color: Black skeleton dial
Bezel Material: Ceramic
Band Material & Color: Black ceramic with double folding clasp
Movement: Automatic movement (El Primero 9004)​
Water Resistance: 100 m (330 feet)

The Zenith watch brand has been around since the 1860s [1865 to be precise]. This timepiece is a new 2018 model from Zenith. It integrates the highly praised precision chronograph movement of the first Zenith El Primero with its own.

The Zenith Defy El Primero timepiece is an attention grabber. It combines the best features of the 3-hander Defy and El Primero chronograph models of the brand. All these ‘combined best’ watch features are on full display through the see-through designs of this skeleton watch.

Within this timepiece is the El Primero 9004 automatic movement that gives a minimum power reserve of about 50 hours. With the added 36,000 VpH (5 Hz) frequency, it allows for a chronograph movement that’s up to 1/100th of a second.

With its 100 meters (330 feet) water-resistance, you can go for recreational swimming or take a shower with it on.

If you like your chronograph skeleton to have a little glamour to it, then this is the one.

PROS

  • Modern and dynamic stylish watch.
  • The two different-colored counters highlight the open-worked dial and increase legibility.
  • The oversized chronograph pushers made it much easier to activate it.

CONS

  • It might be too big on smaller wrists.

8. Oris Artix GT Skeleton

FEATURES

Case Diameter: 42 mm
Case Material: Stainless steel, see-through mineral glass case back 
Dial Window: Sapphire, domed on both sides, anti-reflective coating inside
Dial Color: Skeleton grey dial
Bezel Material: Stainless steel
Band Material & Color: Dark brown leather
Movement: Automatic movement
Water Resistance: 100 m (330 feet)

The Oris Artix GT Skeleton watch is a gorgeous watch. The perforated leather strap gives its sporty look.

The Oris GT Skeleton isn’t as traditional as you’d expect from a skeleton watch. It’s more on the modern side with its visible technical parts and opened bridges.

Within this timepiece is a self-winding Caliber 734 movement that gives about 38 hours of power reserve. There are also 26 jewels inside this movement.

It’s water-resistant up to 100 meters (330 feet), which is good enough for shower times or water activities within this range.

If you’re after an affordable skeleton watch that merges old-school openwork movement with a modern attitude, then this is the one.

PROS

  • Nice mix of elegance with a touch of sporty looks.
  • Lume-packed hands and indices for visibility in low light.
  • Highly legible dial.
  • Comfortable leather strap.

CONS

  • The power reserve is only for 38 hours.

9. Tag Heuer Carrera Senna Special Edition

FEATURES

Case Diameter: 43 mm
Case Thickness: 11.8 mm
Case Material: Brushed stainless steel, sapphire crystal exhibition case
Dial Window: Sapphire with anti-reflective treatment on both sides
Dial Color: Black skeleton dial
Bezel Material: Black ceramic
Band Material & Color: Brushed stainless steel
Movement: Automatic movement (Caliber Heuer 02​)​
Water Resistance: 100 m (330 feet)

The Tag Heuer Carrera Senna is a special edition timepiece from the Tag brand to pay homage to “Magic Senna”. This is a timepiece for every motor racing enthusiast or professional.

The Carrera’s silver-toned hands and skeleton dial fits the timepiece’s sapphire crystal exhibition case back perfectly. If you love attention, the tachymeter scale, fixed bezel and 43-mm case of this watch will earn you a lot of compliments.

This chronograph skeleton watch is an ideal mix of elegance, appeal and function. You can even go diving with the 100 meters (330 feet) water resistance on this timepiece and still find the dial legible enough.

The automatic self-winding movement, with 80-hours power reserve, on this timepiece keeps your analog display on the move.

If you’re after a skeleton watch that mixes function and class well, this is the one.

PROS

  • Sporty chronograph with contemporary design.
  • Brushed stainless steel.
  • Very comfortable stainless steel bracelet.
  • Luminescent hands & hour markers.

CONS

  • Feels a bit heavy for a steel watch.

10. Tissot Chemin des Tourelles Squelette

FEATURES

Case Diameter: 40 mm
Case Thickness: 11.1 mm
Case Material: Stainless steel
Dial Window: Domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with double-sided antireflective coating
Dial Color: Skeleton dial
Bezel Material: Stainless steel
Band Material & Color: Black leather
Movement: Mechanical movement 
Water Resistance: 50 m (165 feet)

Want a timepiece that looks modern and readable while displaying its mechanical movement? Then you’ll find this skeleton quite interesting.

The Chemin des Tourelles was named to pay homage to a street in LeLocle. This is where Tissot has maintained its watchmaking factory for over 162 years. If you’re wondering what ‘Squelette’ means, it’s French for Skeleton.

Within this affordable timepiece is the ETA 6497-1 hand-wound automatic movement with a 46-hour power reserve.

The rose gold chapter markings and Roman numerals did a great job in enhancing the looks of this timepiece. The leather strap on this timepiece makes it a gorgeous dress watch too.

If you love more open skeleton dials, then this timepiece will appeal much more to you. We love how this timepiece can change its looks based on how it receives light.

PROS

  • Nice and attractive lightweight timepiece.
  • Comfortable for daily wear.
  • Waterproof to a level enough for brief sessions of swimming and snorkeling

CONS

  • It can't be read in the dark as it lacks Lume.
  • Low water resistance of 50 meters (165 feet).

11. Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmatic Automatic Skeleton

FEATURES

Case Diameter: 40 mm
Case Thickness: 11 mm
Case Material: Stainless steel
Dial Window: Sapphire crystal
Dial Color: Skeleton dial
Bezel Material: Stainless steel
Band Material & Color: Black leather
Movement: Automatic movement 
Water Resistance: 50 m (165 feet)

Timepieces from the Hamilton brand have a way of blending a creative personality with sophistication.

The clear dial on this timepiece leaves enough room for the inner workings to be the center of attraction. The leather band is quite comfortable and ideal if you’ve got sensitive wrists. It’s soft and supple enough.

The Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmatic is a very affordable skeleton watch that runs on an automatic H-20-S movement, giving you an 80-hour power reserve. The 40 mm steel case is thick enough to make this timepiece bulletproof.

If you want a stylish and sleek skeleton watch, the modern looks of this timepiece will win you over.

PROS

  • Handsome, high precision timekeeper.
  • It has a contemporary and sophisticated look.
  • Luminous hands and hour markers.
  • Impressive power reserve of 80 hours.

CONS

  • Low water resistance of 50 meters (165 feet).

12. Bulova Classic Automatic

FEATURES

Case Diameter: 46 mm
Case Thickness: 13.2 mm
Case Material: Two-tone gold and gunmetal IP stainless steel case, exhibition case back 
Dial Window:Sapphire crystal
Dial Color: Black skeleton dial
Bezel Material: Stainless steel
Band Material & Color: Gold-tone stainless steel
Movement: Automatic Mechanical​
Water Resistance: 100 m (330 feet)

Last but not least on our list is the Bulova Classic Automatic watch. We all can agree that skeleton watches are attention grabbers, but if you want something more unique, then this is worth considering.

The Bulova watch brand provides a gentle tease into the inner workings of this timepiece behind the subdials. You’ll find the Roman numerals stylish and the captivating motion of the gears quite enjoyable.

The 100 meters (330 feet) water resistance of this timepiece will leave you without worries in the pool or under the shower. Just don’t go diving with it.

The Bulova Classic Automatic is an analog display timepiece that runs on an automatic mechanical movement. This gives up to 40 hours of power reserve. We love the exhibition case base, as well.

PROS

  • Tough, attractive timepiece.
  • Comfortable and perfect fit on the wrist.
  • Great value for money.

CONS

  • Might be larger than smaller wrists.

Final Thoughts!

Whatever your tastes or style, you’ll always find a skeleton watch that fits in perfectly. All the brands listed are renowned for their quality and reliable timepieces.

The only thing missing in skeleton watches are their dial backs. Hence, skeleton watches aren’t less fragile than other timepieces. Sounds like music to your ears? Then it’s time to pull back the veil and take a peek at the inner workings of your timepiece.

With the help of our watch reviews on the best skeleton watches for men, making a choice won’t be as hard as you thought. What’s more? You’ll always see a skeleton watch that can fit into your budget without leaving a dent in your pockets.

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Marilyn

Marilyn

Marilyn Chase writes fashion articles for luxury power houses that want to see their brands surge. Her articles have appeared in various North American and Western European websites. She contributes articles about design, craftsmanship and manufacturing techniques in fashion. Her articles focus on trends and research supported by first hand interviews and pictures. She is qualified by extensive experience and a degree in fashion from New York.