It takes tremendous amounts of knowledge and craftsmanship to open up a dial or a movement, or both for that matter, to reveal the inner beauty of a watch. The art of skeletonization remains one of the most intriguing watchmaking styles available. And I don’t mean cutting a hole in the dial to reveal only the balance wheel. No, I am talking about exposing as much as possible, even leaving a traditional dial out of the equation altogether. I am talking about proper full skeletonized watchmaking, and this year we’ve already seen quite a few extremely impressive examples.
Cartier Masse Mysterieuse
The enigmatic Cartier Masse Mysterieuse is easily one of the most fascinating watches presented in 2022. This puzzling watch by the Grand Dame pushes the “Mysterieuse” concept to the next level. Set in a 43.5mm wide platinum case is essentially a completely suspended, self-driving movement. The semi-circular construction also happens to be entirely skeletonized, revealing its intricacies yet never fully disclosing all its secrets. Even after seeing it in person, and being bewildered by the rotating movement, we still don’t really understand how it functions. Yes, there’s a complex differential system that connects the movement to the hands, that much is clear. But with the static (somewhat) position of the hands and crown, how everything is connected remains a bit of a mystery. No wonder Cartier spent 8 years developing it!
For more information, please visit Cartier.com
Quick Facts – 43.5mm x 12.64mm – platinum 950 case – crown with ruby cabochon – sapphire crystal front and back – fully transparent dial centre – brushed hour ring with applied Roman numerals – black minute track – central hour and minute hands – Calibre 9801 MC, in-house – semi-circular skeletonized construction – automatic winding with movement being the rotor – 43 jewels – 28,800vph – 42h power reserve – black alligator leather strap – limited edition of 30 pieces – EUR 250,000 (excl. taxes)
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Skeleton
The launch of the Tonda PF collection has definitely put Parmigiani Fleurier back in the spotlight again. This range of refined luxury sports watches is a very good alternative to the usual suspects in this category, offering a mix of complex movements, original design cues and a highly refined style. One of the more outspoken models is the Tonda PF Skeleton, with a fully open-worked dial and movement. The execution is done in a surprisingly contemporary fashion, which somehow sits very nicely within the stylish exterior of the Tonda PF. You get a very good look at the watch’s running gear, all the while remaining quite legible thanks to the contrasting red gold hands and indices. It comes in full rose gold, or stainless steel with a knurled bezel in platinum.
For more information, please visit Parmigiani.com
Quick Facts – 40mm x 8.5mm – 18k rose gold or stainless steel – knurled rose gold or platinum bezel – teardrop lugs – sapphire crystal front and back – graphite NAC-coated open-worked bridges and plates – rose gold indices and hands – Calibre PF777 – in-house automatic – 187 components – 28,800vph – 29 jewels – 22k rose gold skeletonized rotor – 60h power reserve – hours, minutes – integrated rose gold or steel bracelet – CHF 59,000 (steel) or CHF 88,000 (gold)
Grand Seiko Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon SLGT003
Some might not expect Grand Seiko to be mentioned in this category of skeletonized watches. While the brand is very well-known for its finely crafted high-end watches, it rarely cuts away parts of a dial and movement to this extent. But, since presenting the T0 Constant-Force Tourbillon prototype movement in 2020, people have been pleading with the brand to use it in a watch. And they did! The Grand Seiko Kodo Constant-Force Tourbillon SLGT003 uses the ultra-complex Calibre 9SR1, an adaptation of the T0. The movement is the first tourbillon escapement with remontoire mechanism constructed as a single unit, mounted on a single axis. Two parallel mounted barrels ensure a constant level of torque. To match this extremely impressive movement, Grand Seiko opted for a platinum and titanium case with open-worked lugs.
For more information, please visit Grand-Seiko.com
Quick Facts – 43.8mm x 12.9mm – platinum 950 and Brilliant Hard Titanium case – brushed and Zaratsu-polished – box-shaped sapphire crystal with see-through caseback – 100m water-resistant – openworked dial – sub-dial for hours and minutes – integrated constant-force mechanism and tourbillon at 6 o’clock – power reserve indicator at 8 o’clock – Grand Seiko Calibre 9SR1 – manual wound constant-force tourbillon – 340 components – 28,800vph – 72h power reserve – limited edition of 20 pieces – EUR 370,000
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton Blue
Vacheron Constantin has a very longstanding tradition of Haute Horlogerie watchmaking, often with complex chronograph, tourbillon or calendar mechanisms. The Maison regularly showcases its capabilities through superb pieces like the Traditionelle Salmon Chrono QP or Patrimony Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin. On the sportier side of the brand’s portfolio, resides the Overseas collection, of which this Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton Blue is one of the most intricate. With a fully skeletonized movement and dial, every little detail of the Calibre 1120 QPSQ/1 is visible. Spread across the “dial” are displays for the date, day of the week, month, leap year and phases of the moon. And it continues on the reverse side as well, as the open-worked rotor with Maltese cross barely impedes the view.
For more information, please visit Vacheron-Constantin.com
Quick Facts – 41.5mm x 8.1mm – 18k pink gold case, brushed and polished – sapphire crystal front and back – 50m water-resistant – skeletonized dial – pink-gold hour markers and hands with white Super-LumiNova – subdials for the months (incl. leap year), days of the week, date and moon phases – Haute Horlogerie levels of finishing with blued NAC-coated components – Calibre 1120 QPSQ/1, in-house – automatic winding – 22k oscillating weight – 29.6mm x 4.05mm – 19,800vph – 40h power reserve – 276 components – 36 jewels – Hallmark of Geneva certification – hours, minutes, date, day of the week, month, leap year, moon phase – pink gold bracelet, blue calf leather strap or blue rubber strap with quick-release system – EUR 130,000
H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Cylindrical Tourbillon Skeleton
It’s not the first time we’ve featured the superb H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Cylindrical Tourbillon Skeleton, but with watches this cool we’ll happily feature it again. Based on the sporty Pioneer range, the Cylindrical Tourbillon Skeleton combines proper high-end watchmaking with the art of skeletonization. The completely open-worked movement discloses the complex cylindrical hairspring used in the tourbillon escapement, something few watchmakers can master. The spring is formed by hand by Moser’s most skilled craftsmen. Some might argue that the typical Moser-flair is pushed aside a bit by the exposed technical prowess, but you still get an instantly recognizable gradient blue dial with Globolight indices and hands. It graciously leaves the centre stage for that wonderful whirlwind mechanism in the bottom half of the in-house made automatic HMC 811 movement.
For more information, please visit H.Moser.com
Quick Facts – 42.8mm x 11.7mm (without crystal) or 15.3mm (with crystal) – screw-down crown – domed sapphire crystal with sapphire crystal caseback – 120m water-resistant – skeletonized construction – off-centred funky blue fumé dial for hours and minutes – applied Globolight indices – hour and minute hands with Globolight inserts – one-minute flying cylindrical tourbillon – Calibre HMC 811, in-house – fully skeletonized construction – bi-directional pawl winding system with skeletonized gold rotor – 74h power reserve – hand-shaped cylindrical hairspring with 2 Breguet curves – hand-stitched black alligator leather strap – steel folding clasp – CHF 79,000
Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Platinum
Few words are needed to describe any of the extensive Bvlgari Octo Finissimo range. “Angular” and “Ultra-thin” are two that instantly come to mind, which makes perfect sense. Ever since its introduction in 2014, the collection has been the platform on which Bvlgari displayed its ultra-thin watchmaking expertise. The Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton Automatic is one of the most complex members of the family which is now also available in a full platinum case. The dial is fully open-worked with the exception of the minute track and the two subdials. Blued hands are used to indicate the time and chronograph indications. The skeletonized barrel and tourbillon escapement are mounted opposite of each other. Round the back, more of the movement’s details are revealed, like the column wheel and peripheral rotor.
For more information, please visit Bvlgari.com
Quick Facts – 43mm x 7.40mm – full platinum Octo Finissimo case – brushed and polished – sapphire crystal front and back – open-worked dial with integrated white minute track and sub-registers – blued scales and hands – Calibre BVL 388 – automatic winding with peripheral rotor – 3.50mm height – 21,600vph – 52h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds, monopusher chronograph, tourbillon – alligator strap with platinum buckle – EUR 210,000
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.