Why the sheer beauty of open-worked watches clearly outweights all their practical flaws.
We all know this proud moment when you add a cool action-ready watch to an already sharp look. Something fairly heavy and everyday, yet a bit shiny. It’s almost like putting on some nice suit of armor and walking out feeling as a knight capable of literally anything. The way a tiny object can improve ones confidence and mood is what I personally love the most about watches. However, today we’ll talk about something directly opposite, the timepieces demanding you to tread a bit lightly and turn with some extra care. The fragile beauties, that would by default win you the aficionado status among any crowd, for one doesn’t need to appreciate fine mechanics to understand all the skill and effort behind a skeletonized watch.
Make no mistake, cutting out as much metal off a movement as it’s virtually possible without making it instantly break after your hand moves, is not something very forgiving. The more airy goes the watch, the less sturdy and everyday it becomes. So what’s so special about skeletons, and why would someone want to enter this risky territory, not to mention the drawback of sacrificing the main time-telling element of a watch – the dial? Well, if you’ve ever seen a proper skeleton in person, you should know. There’s something magical in witnessing the mechanical part coming to life on your wrist in all its entirety. Kind of a tiny universe you keep looking after like Dr. Seuss’ Horton or some Men in Black character. Of course, almost any fine watch nowadays has a transparent caseback, but I’m taking about something more than a shy glimpse into a balance wheel and a couple of bridges hiding and reappearing under the rotor.
Take something classical like the Patek Philippe Calatrava. Just like a century ago, you get the meticulously hand-engraved golden web with a handful of contrasting rubies. On the other end of the spectrum you’ll find something like a carbon version of Romain Gauthier Insight Micro-Rotor Squelette, where each element screams of it’s modern vibe. Regardless of the style and technique involved, the mind-blowing design and production skills are more or less on par. Like it or not, we’ve got the essence of watchmaking art here. Sure, 150 years ago the transformation from the regular movement to the skeletonized one was done manually, while in XXI century these kind of watches are engineered in their open-worked glory right from day one. But the goal never changed – to spark some extra love for the very concept of a watch, admire the perfection of the idea itself. And to me, it totally justifies all its downsides.
And besides some reasonable beating issues – there are always a number of ridiculously expensive sporty options by Richard Mille for those who crave a sturdy skeleton, though – we’d have to mention another two. Firstly, it’s nearly impossible to blend such a piece in your low-key outfit. Be it a dressy antique-like beauty in precious metal or a massive hi-tech monster, they both demand some seriously complementing looks and by all means would get some attention. The good news is, you’d hardly play this game if you’d prefer not to be noticed the first place. The second one is a bit tricky and goes by the name of ‘hair problem’.
The majority of skeletons are men’s watches, and most men inhabiting the planet Earth do have some hair on their wrists. Usually you’d never think about it, until you strap a stunning transparent timepiece, only to find the perfectly decorated mechanical insides showcasing next to your precious fur. Such controversial neighborship can drive some purists completely crazy, and if this is your case than, well, we feel for you. But for the guys like me, who love themselves enough to not freak out of a hairy wrist, a skeleton might become a true horological love. The other option might include getting one for your better half. Thus you might enjoy the endless collector’s fun at home, and then proudly show it to your peers on a wrist that can actually complement the whole picture.
Aug. 15, 2020