Skeleton watches, also known as open-worked watches, are not timepieces decorated with skulls and other bones (although, those do certainly exist). Skeleton watches have open dials that allow for a view of the movement inside. What’s more, they sometimes have skeletonized movements that are engineered to hollow out as much as possible, which means you can see your wrist right through the watch while wearing it.
Love them or not, skeleton watches are a staple of the watch market, particularly in the high-end segment. Luxury watch brands love to show off their intricate movements with skeletonized dials. One major complaint about skeleton watches is that they can be hard to read – some watchmakers execute legibility better than others. Here are 10 excellent skeleton watches, ranging in price from $250 to over $135,000.
1. Swatch Sistem Through Again
Powered by the automatic SISTEM51 movement and featuring an aluminum open dial with skeletonized indexes, the Swatch Sistem Through Again is perhaps the best affordable skeleton watch on the market.
There’s a generously sized 42mm stainless steel case (13.8mm thick), a comfortable black rubber strap, and both the front and back of the watch offer a view of the innovative self-winding Swatch movement with 51 pieces powering the watch.
2. Bulova Sutton Classic Skeleton
The open-worked dial not only provides a look at the automatic movement inside the case but it’s also punctuated with matching rose gold-toned hands and skeletonized Roman numeral hour markers, as well as a pair of blue chapter rings.
3. Hamilton Jazzmaster Skeleton Auto
Hamilton offers a wide selection of budget-friendly skeletonized and open-dial watches, and this Jazzmaster Skeleton Auto is a solid pick for a classic aesthetic.
The 40mm rose-gold toned stainless steel case (11.05mm thick) is paired with an elegant brown strap and a white cut-out dial with an open center. The self-winding movement inside boasts 80 hours of power reserve and since it’s on display, it’s also handsomely decorated.
4. Rado DiaStar Original Skeleton
Now here’s a funky skeleton watch that leans into its retro design – the Rado DiaStar Original Skeleton watch with a 38mm x 45mm helmet-shaped case fashioned from stainless steel and topped with a Ceramos (a ceramic and metal alloy) bezel.
The 80-hour power reserve automatic movement is proudly shown via the open dial and exhibition caseback while legibility is kept in check thanks to yellow gold indices and matching hands filled with Super-LumiNova.
5. Christopher Ward C1 Bel Canto Rosa
The Christopher Ward C1 Bell Canto took the watch world by storm when it was released in late 2022 as it offered a chiming movement (historically only available in ultra-expensive watches) at an affordable price point.
Aside from the beautiful tones emitting from inside the 41mm titanium case, the architecture of the dial replete with movement components is simply beautiful. The C1 Bel Canto Rosa is the salmon-ish colorway, which is very much a beloved shade among watch collectors. A joy to listen to and look at.
6. Oris ProPilot X Caliber 115
To show off its then-new in-house movement, Oris opted to place Caliber 115 inside a skeleton watch so all could admire it. Caliber 115 supplies the watch with an impressive 10 days of power reserve thanks to a new alloy for the single mainspring and it offers an accuracy rate of +6/-4 seconds per day.
7. Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton
The Defy Skyline is emerging as one of Zenith’s most popular modern creations, featuring design details that speak to contemporary watch buyers including angular cases, 12-sided faceted bezels, and easily swappable integrated bracelets.
The Defy Skyline Skeleton is one of the newer models to join the line, putting the Caliber El Primero 3620 SK movement on full display via the striking blue open-worked dial.
8. Bulgari Octo Finissimo Skeleton 8 Days
Bulgari has been singularly focused on making some of the world’s thinnest watches over the last decade or so by expanding the Octo Finissimo collection.
Among them is the striking Bulgari Octo Finissimo Skeleton 8 Days, crafted from titanium and featuring a skeletonized dial, movement, and caseback. The 40mm case measures a mere 2.5mm thick and despite that, the manual-winding watch offers eight days of power reserve.
9. Cartier Santos Skeleton
Chief among them are the skeletonized versions, which Cartier does so well. This particular monochromatic version includes a 39.8mm black ADLC steel case, an easily interchangeable bracelet, gray-lacquered skeletonized Roman numerals, and an open-worked manual-winding movement.
10. Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton
A member of the so-called Holy Trinity of watches (alongside Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet), Vacheron Constantin is one of the most revered watchmakers, known for a vast range of complications.
One standout model is the Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton, starring the beautiful skeletonized dial and intricate mechanical movement inside the 41.5mm rose gold case. With its hefty price tag and high-complication movement, this is an ultra-luxurious skeleton watch that only a few can own and appreciate.
We’ve reached the end of our top ten skeleton watches list, covering a wide range of options to suit a range of budgets. What do you think about skeleton watches? Do you like them? Or do you find them too busy or difficult to read? What skeleton watches, if any, would you add to the list? We love to hear from our readers, so share your opinions with us in the comments below.