Skeleton dials are interesting, not because they offer a garish look at something exposed but because they showcase the sheer level of complexity involved in modern watchmaking. Without searching for photos of the movement of your watch online, or doing a John Goldberger (and opening your million dollar Rolex 4113 with a cheese knife), the regular watch enthusiast can’t just look at the mechanism of their watch. A skeleton dial offers a view of the mechanism that is less invasive, and more intimate, by offering a window into a part of the watch usually saved for the eyes of watchmakers. To celebrate this style of dial design, we wanted to have a look at the 10 best skeleton dials from 2018.
TAG HEUER CARRERA GMT HEUER 02
The Heuer 02, the next generation of TAG Heuer’s mechanical chronograph movement, has been augmented with a GMT complication for the first time inside this avant-garde take on the sporty Carrera. A stripped-back dial features an additional bright red hand that indicates a second time zone by pointing to the 24-hour scale of its bicoloured ceramic bezel. This watch is large and very much in charge on the wrist.
Ref No. CBG2A1Z, Case size 45mm, Case material Steel, Movement Heuer 02, Price $7750
CHANEL BOY.FRIEND SKELETON CALIBRE 3
High fashion house Chanel was founded on the notion of gender fluidity, incorporating traditional masculine elements into women’s designs and blurring the lines between gender norms. While it’s pitched as a women’s watch, the Boy.Friend Skeleton could just as easily be worn by him. Whatever you do, do not disregard the significance and quality of this Boy.Friend. The movement powering the watch is the in-house Calibre 3 manual-wind movement, which is both technical and delicate.
Ref No. H5254, Case size 37mm x 28.6mm, Case material Beige gold, Movement Calibre 3, Price $36,500
RADO HYPERCHROME SKELETON
At Baselworld 2018, Rado offered two new limited-edition versions of their everyday and sporty HyperChrome chronograph. The first takes its form inside a case crafted from a combination of high-tech ceramic and bronze, while this second version opens up its ceramic and steel case, forgoing a traditional dial and skeletonising the movement. Printed subdials on the inside of its sapphire crystal then add an extra layer to an already wondrous, multidimensional dial.
Ref No. R32249152, Case size 45mm, Case material Ceramic and steel, Movement ETA 2894-2, Price $9475
ZENITH DEFY CLASSIC SKELETON
The vibrating oscillator in Zenith’s Defy Lab ZO 342 movement is arguably the biggest technical breakthrough in the world of watchmaking since, well, quartz. However, with work still to be done before it reaches mass-production, the Defy Classic Skeleton is here to bridge the gap. It’s an attractively sized 41mm titanium-cased Defy, with a distinctive skeletonised dial. While it’s not quite the Defy Lab, the design parallels are instantly apparent, and this Classic can hold its own.
Ref No. 95.9000.670/78.M9000, Case size 41mm, Case material Titanium, Movement Elite 670 SK, Price $10,500
BULGARI OCTO FINISSIMO SKELETON
The Bulgari Octo Finissimo collection must be seen to be believed, not least because it is home to record-breakers like the world’s thinnest tourbillon. The unique octagonal case is a geometric delight for the eyes and while the case of the newest Octo Finissimo Skeleton is fashioned in 18k sandblasted rose gold, what really shines is the open-worked masterpiece that lies within: the 2.23mm thick, manual-wind movement.
Ref No. 102946, Case size 40mm, Case material 18k rose gold, Movement BVL 128SK, Price $40,500
JAQUET DROZ GRANDE SECONDE SKELET-ONE
Outside of their amazing automata and elaborate enamel masterpieces, Jaquet Droz are best known for their signature Grande Seconde. It’s a design that displays the hours and minutes in one small subdial, while the seconds are shown in a larger off-centred subdial. Now, for the first time, the Grande Seconde has been fully skeletonised. Opening up the white gold case and allowing a flood of light to enter, illuminating the intricate inner-workings below the transparent sapphire sub-seconds dial.
Ref No. J003524240, Case size 41mm, Case material 18k white gold, Movement 2663 SQ, Price $44,950
CARTIER SANTOS DE CARTIER SKELETON
There’s no better example of the old adage “less is more” than the brand-new Cartier Santos Skeleton. Its manually wound 9619 MC movement has been designed from the ground up to be completely skeletonised, giving its architecture maximum visual punch. Note that the bridges take the form of Cartier’s iconic exploding Roman numerals. In an 18k pink gold case this is pure luxury.
Ref No. WHSA0008, Case size 39.8mm, Case material 18k pink gold, Movement 9619 MC, Price $89,000
GIRARD-PERREGAUX LAUREATO TOURBILLON SKELETON
First launched back in 1975, Girard-Perregaux’s Laureato has undergone a renaissance in recent years, with the collection updated to include three-hand automatic models, chronographs, and standout pieces like the Laureato Tourbillon Skeleton. If the name doesn’t give it away, then just one look at its open-worked dial and its sweeping lines should give you a clue as the fully skeletonised movement directs your gaze to a show-stopping flying tourbillon at 11 o’clock.
Ref No. 99110-52-000-52A, Case size 42mm, Case material 18k pink gold, Movement GP09520-0001, Price $188,000
FRANCK MULLER ENDURANCE GRAVITY
When it comes to the Franck Muller Endurance Gravity, what you see is what you get. And you’re getting a lot with this package. A circular 47.7mm white gold case encases the fully skeletonised movement, which appears to almost float as it’s held in place by curving bridges, with the mainspring barrel and tourbillon cage asymmetrically aligned. However, the tourbillon still takes centre stage with its monumental 21.2mm size.
Ref No. END 47.5 T GRAVITY CS, Case size 47.7mm, Case material 18k white gold, Movement MVT.CS-03.R.SQ, Price $188,700
RICHARD MILLE PABLO MAC DONOUGH
Tourbillons and high-impact sports tend not to mix. Luckily, the guys over at Richard Mille have tackled the problem you never knew you had, thanks to a series of steel cables and pulleys. While it has been made with the specific needs of Argentinian polo player Pablo Mac Donough in mind, if you’re in the market for a high-priced timepiece suitable for high-impact sports, this could be the one for you.
Ref No. RM 53-01, Case size 44.5mm x 49.94mm, Case material Carbon TPT, Movement Calibre RM53-01, Price $900,000 USD