5 of the best budget skeleton watches 5 of the best budget skeleton watches

5 of the best budget skeleton watches

Tom Austin

A major part of Richard Mille’s and Audemars Piguet’s offerings, the skeleton dial is one of the most coveted construction techniques in watchmaking today. With its roots even as far back as the 1700s, watch enthusiasts have been obsessed with being able to view their technically beautiful movements through openworked dials, leading to some of the most precious pieces in horology being produced. Since then, brands have followed the trend and many now have a skeleton line in their collections. Thankfully, some have also chosen to go the budget route, bringing skeletonised dials to the masses.

Hamilton Jazzmaster Skeleton Auto

Hamilton Jazzmaster Skeleton Auto

Hamilton is well-acquainted with skeletonised dials, with several lines in their catalogue featuring them. The Jazzmaster Skeleton Auto is a contemporary dress watch, sized in either 40mm or 36mm and is available in stainless steel with black, white, purple or blue dials. The case is conventionally designed with subtle polishing and brushed areas, and a perfectly thin bezel to frame the all-important dial. One of the biggest critiques of skeleton watches is that legibility is an issue, however, Hamilton has managed to create a balanced and carefully thought-out dial that remains clear and classy. The movement you can see working away is the H-10-S Calibre, a time-only, ETA-based movement, with côtes de Genève finishing in the visible areas for that final touch. It’s not all just for looks though, there’s an impressive 80-hour power reserve, making this version of the Hamilton Jazzmaster Skeleton a versatile watch you can wear with confidence. Price: starting from A$1,925 from the T+T Shop

Tissot T-Complication Squelette Mechanical

Tissot T Complication Squelette Mechanical

Skeleton-dialled watches tend to be the opposite of subtle, and there’s nothing less subtle than a 43mm, openworked “dress” watch. If you like your watches to be attention grabbers, then the Tissot T-Complication Squelette is certainly one to consider. First of all, the mechanical winding movement has been built in a way to allow you to see straight through the watch, right down to the caseback. The dial furniture is mounted around a chapter ring to help keep things surprisingly legible with large alpha hands tipped with lume. Slightly less obvious is the small seconds hand at 3 o’clock. This open-hearted conversation starter sits in a 43mm stainless steel case with a fully brushed finish, perhaps an attempt to tone down the overall look. I’m not sure they managed it though, because the Tissot T-Complication Squelette Mechanical is a beast and a pleasure to stare at while the movement is running. Price: A$3,105 from the T+T Shop

Rado DiaStar Original Skeleton

Rado Diastar Original Skeleton 2 e1693794777921

The Rado DiaStar, introduced in 1962, was the result of five decades of watchmaking expertise and was presented as the world’s first scratch-proof watch. Its futuristic design, produced in ultra hard-wearing metal, became a hit and created a critical foundation in Rado’s design language for decades to come. Today, the DiaStar is still in production, albeit with an even harder-wearing and more distinctive outer bezel, made from Rado’s proprietary ceramic-based material called Ceramos. The 38mm watch features a stainless steel case, almost lugless in appearance, matched to a stainless steel bracelet. The movement is fully visible through the anthracite skeletonised dial, with floating gold-coloured indices to match the hands. The movement is the Rado R808 automatic calibre, boasting a huge 80 hours of power reserve and an airy appearance. The Rado DiaStar Original Skeleton is an instantly recognisable icon and a fantastic mix of 60’s style with a modern take on the openwork design. Price: A$3,250

Ferragamo F-80 Skeleton

FERR F 80 SKELETON SFKG00423 SFKG00123 BEAUTY e1683831601110

In 2022, the Italian fashion company branched out their watch line with the popular automatic F-80 Skeleton and has returned with two fresh looks to spearhead its commitment to sustainability. The F-80 Skeleton watch is a 41mm sports watch manufactured from bio-ceramic (a sustainable composite material containing ceramic), bio-based nylon, and even more eco-friendly TPU material in the strap. The two new models, in Amaretto and Navy Blue, are both supposed to represent nature in different ways. The watch is powered by a Swiss-made Landeron 24 movement, a simple three-handed automatic with 40 hours of power reserve. Price: US$2,195

Oris Artelier Skeleton

Oris Artelier Skeleton

A part of the old guard now, the Oris Artelier Skeleton was released in 2016 but still deserves a spot on this list as a classy and functional skeletonised watch. The 40mm Artelier stainless steel case is elegant and well-proportioned. The dial is a bold, thick rim around the openworked centre section, but look closer and you’ll see the silver guilloché finishing too, just subtle enough to miss if you don’t look hard enough. It’s even available with diamonds for the bolder customer. Silver hands match the applied silver indices, finished off with an applied Oris logo at 6 o’clock. The Sellita-based Oris 734 movement is strikingly visible in the centre, adequately finished, and gives the wearer an awesome view of the beating heart of the watch. It’s a simple three-handed affair with 38 hours of power reserve. Price: US$2,600