No good has ever come from closet-dwelling skeletons. Just ask the Clintons what they knew about ‘that woman’. Or Taylor Swift for her take on ‘that bitch’.
Seems no one told the guys in Geneva. Over the last few seasons, the biggest watch brands have come clean about precisely what goes on in inside their timepieces. Sadly, not via the tried-and-tested medium of the Twitter spat. Rather, by adding a wristful of skeletons to your wardrobe: watches that get rid of the dials, so you can peer straight into their guts.
Why this sudden candour? Because pulling the curtain reveals all those cogs and gears, which put the focus firmly on the watchmaker’s art. It’s about as close as the secrecy-loving Swiss get to openness. At least, until Jean-Claude Biver gets a Snapchat account.
TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer-02T
According to watch maestro Biver, the new CEO of TAG Heuer, his brand is responsible for democratising haute horlogerie. A claim more than backed up by the Carrera Heuer-02T, a watch with a skeleton dial that reveals the industry’s most intricate complication: a tourbillon.
This addition – which houses the escapement in a rotating cage to counter the effects of gravity – would normally set you back London house deposit-level money (TAG’s last tourbillon cost over £100k), but under Biver the brand now offers W1 tech for house-in-Hull prices. Well, that’s democracy of a sort.
Available in August at TAG Heuer, priced £12,100.
Rotary Automatic Watch
TAG may wave the equality banner for Swiss watches, but it’s Rotary leading the parade. If the Carrera is a house deposit, Rotary’s watches cost less than getting the locks replaced.
However, despite its modest price tag, this skeleton dial piece holds its own against the luxury squad, sitting in a cutaway dial that’s a sight sharper than novelty sports designs. Democratic in price – and opportunities to wear.
Available at The Watch Superstore, priced £189.50.
Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Skeleton Chronograph
Skeleton dials often lean modern: think sporty, 48mm monsters that belong in Rick Ross videos. So Maurice Lacroix’s classic Masterpiece Skeleton Chronograph is a welcome sight to those who prefer their champagne from a glass, not sprayed over the bonnet of a Maybach.
The exposed mechanic sits within a stainless steel case that wouldn’t look out of place in a Cartier concession. Better yet, the alligator leather strap is appropriate for any dress event in the calendar.
Available at Jura Watches, priced £4,950.
Zenith El Primero Skeleton
The El Primero has held the title of world’s most precise chronograph for 40 years. Each watch takes nine painstaking months to put together, passing through 300 pairs of hands. So it’s understandable Zenith would want to show the movement off.
In keeping with the trend for skeletons to steer techy, this version comes on the kind of black rubber strap more suited to weekends in the woods than boardrooms in the city. Although that movement peeking out under a suit cuff is guaranteed to turn heads.
Available at The Watch Gallery, priced £8,100.
Piaget Altiplano Skeleton
The Piaget Altiplano breaks all the rules. It’s uncharacteristically slight for a man’s watch – the 5.34mm-thick case houses the world’s slimmest self-winding skeleton movement.
For a dress watch, that skeleton dial is also oddly busy. But, most controversially, the Altiplano Skeleton dares to blend steel and rose gold. This is the kind of luxury watch manufacture your mother warned you about.
Available at Watches of Switzerland, priced £42,000.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande
There’s skeleton dials, then there’s tombs of incomparable horological wonder. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Grande is of the latter category.
This white gold piece is an exemplary piece of haute horlogerie thanks to a complicated tourbillon movement, a limited production of just 200 pieces worldwide and, to be honest, the Jaeger-LeCoultre name. They’re a brand known for craftsmanship, and said craftsmanship will often outlive the wearer.
Available at Jaeger-LeCoultre, priced £80,500 approx.