When you look at watch sales last year, it might be easy to think that Apple Watch was the hero: many estimates have Apple selling 13 million units in 2015.  The impact on the watch industry was substantial and we all watched in amazement as it unfolded before us.

It got me to thinking as we looked back on both last year’s results and on our World of Watches 20 year history, that in literature there tends to be a lot of anti-heroes too.  In an age where technology evolves faster and faster, and people line up at retailers to get new consumer electronic releases days before they are available, what would the watch industry’s true anti-hero be?

To me, it’s the skeleton watch.

The skeleton watch lacks almost all of the characteristics of the smart watch.  It proudly displays almost every working part through its crystal as opposed to hiding it’s secrets in a cold firmware operating system.  Each second, its ecosystem is exposed, with thousands of elements working together before your very eyes.  The engineering, whether perfect or flawed, is naked and on display.

A Skeleton Watch in Action - The Lucien Piccard Sultan
A Skeleton Watch in Action – The Lucien Piccard Sultan Automatic Skeleton Collection

It has a singularity of purpose:  Telling you exactly what time it is.  While there’s nothing wrong with trying to do more with less, there’s something epic about having a focus.  After all, we’ve learned over time that multi-tasking doesn’t work.  The traditional watch agrees and stays on point.  The skeleton watch takes it even further and dares to show you exactly how it rolls.

And you never have to plug it in…

Entry Level Skeleton Watches

If you’re new to collecting skeleton watches, we have a few great choices under $200 to start with.  One of my favorites is The Lucien Piccard Sultan.  It comes in several colors, but pictured here is Lucien Piccard Sultan Black with Rose Tonethe one I find the most striking.  The black dial elements live perfectly next to the rose-tone case and provide an excellent frame for the skeletonized face.

Lucien Piccard is a great brand with a storied history, so be sure to explore their whole catalog as well.

If black and rose gold isn’t your thing, we have about 70 watches in this price range, including pieces from Ingersoll, Stuhrling Original, Elini Barokas, Caravelle NY and more.

If you’re truly bargain hunting, we have 50 or so skeleton dial watches under $100 right now.  Pop over to the store and have a look.

So what’s at the other end of the price spectrum?  Cartier, of course…

The Cartier Men’s LTD Edition Privee Tourbillon

Men s Cartier Ltd Ed Privee Mechanical Multi Function Black Croco Ivory Dial World of WatchesSo, this watch probably isn’t for everyone.  And letter of the law, it’s not a truly skeletonized face.  However, you can see what matters here, which is the tourbillon.  A tourbillon is actually a 230 year old invention that’s essentially designed to negate the effects of gravity.  In modern watches, it’s as much show as substance, but it really makes a watch face pop.

As for this Cartier… it doesn’t need much help in popping.  The ivory colored dial and black Roman marks really showcase the tourbillon.  The tonneau style case is polished platinum and the watch is completed with a genuine black crocodile band.  As you may know, platinum really drives up the price of the watch, and that’s no exception for this Cartier, even with it’s skeletonized caseback.

What’s more, this is a numbered limited edition model, with only 40 ever crafted. We have it listed at $79,999 on site.  Go have a look at this watch making masterpiece to see all the specs: Cartier Limited Edition Men’s Privee Tourbillon.

If you’re interested in this true collectors watch, tweet me at @KevinWebsterSWI, and we’ll get in touch with you.

What Do You Think?

I recognize the almost absurd juxtaposition of a $135 watch and a true Cartier masterpiece.  The point is, there’s a whole world of skeleton watches out there for you to explore.  If you’re interested in real aesthetics and artistry, skeleton watches are made for you.  They celebrate everything that’s great about watchmaking, and more importantly, they have a real personality.

So what’s your favorite skeleton watch?  Show it off on Twitter using #WristsThatWOW, or let me know if the comments below.  As always, if you have any questions, let us know!