2020, The Watch Year in Review: 7 Scintillating Skeleton Watches


It goes without saying: 2020 was far from an ideal year for most of us. Looking back, however, it was also a year that brought many noteworthy watch launches despite the huge obstacles posed by the pandemic and its effects on the world economy. As we look ahead hopefully to 2021, it’s time for our annual look back at some of those timepieces, in various popular categories. Today, we showcase the most head-turning skeleton watches that launched in 2020.

Angelus traces its origins to 1891 but its most recent revival began in 2015, after a long post-Quartz Crisis hiatus. Its U23 models — eight unique pieces, with openworked flying tourbillon calibers housed in high-tech carbon-titanium cases and featuring colorways inspired by classic cocktails — will make you want to raise a toast. They’re equipped with the skeletonized Caliber A-250, noted for its prominent flying tourbillon and mainplate made from a composite material called Carbon Thin Ply (CTP), and feature skeletonized, PVD-treated titanium bridges, each in colorful executions intended to evoke a popular cocktail (pictured is the “Tequila Sunrise” edition). The 42-mm cases combine a case middle and back made of CTP with lugs made of titanium. The movement holds a 90-hour power reserve in its openworked barrel, placed unconventionally at 12 o’clock, while the flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock, sans an upper bridge, appears to float freely in its large window. Discover all eight of the Angelus Cocktail Watches here.

Angelus U23

AS its lengthy name implies, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Skeleton Tourbillon Chronograph is lots more than just a skeleton watch. It is, however, the thinnest timepiece combining all the following features: a skeletonized, self-winding movement, a single-push chronograph, and a tourbillon. Its 42-mm sandblasted titanium case, in the now-famous eight-sided Octo configuration, measures only 7.4 mm in total thickness. Inside the wafer-thin case is an accordingly slender movement, Caliber BVL 388, which rises just 3.5 mm in height despite its array of functions. Visible from the back as well as the front of the watch, it uses a peripheral rotor for automatic winding, amassing a power reserve of 52 hours, and uses both a column wheel and a horizontal clutch to drive its integrated chronograph function. Click here for more photos of Bulgari’s sixth record-setting watch.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Chronograph Skeleton

Cartier refreshed and re-released its Pasha collection — born in 1932 as the jeweler’s first waterproof watch and redesigned in 1985 — at Watches & Wonders 2020. The new models revive the highlights of the model’s ’80s design and adds some contemporary flair, along with modern in-house movements. The series includes the first skeletonized version, the Pasha de Cartier Skeleton. Like its predecessors, its unconventional design features a round case and dial offset by a square minute track. The chained, screwed crowns, a hallmark of the original Pasha, have been updated with the blue sapphires and spinels that are now common on modern Cartier crowns. Underneath the hinged crown cover is a hidden area in which the owner can personalize his or her watch with engraved initials — a subtle personalization visible only when the crown is disengaged. The openworked version of Cartier’s in-house Caliber 1847 MC has the hour numerals cleverly formed from its bridges. Click here to discover the rest of the Cartier Pasha collection.

Cartier Pasha de Cartier Skeleton

Hermès’s Arceau model is perhaps the watch that best expresses the brand’s historical roots as a saddle maker: its asymmetrical lugs are shaped like stirrups and the sloping font of it hour numerals evoke the silhouettes of galloping horses The Arceau Squelette, introduced this year, houses a new skeletonized movement inside a 40-mm steel case. The smoked sapphire dial through which the mechanism is glimpsed is deep black on its outer edges, gradating to a transparent center, and features a beaded minute circle and silvered, openworked numerals in the signature Arceau style. Visible beneath the lance-shaped hands are the movement’s bridges, anthracite-treated wheels, and openworked oscillating weight. For more info and photos, click here.

Hermes Arceau Squelette - soldier
Hermes Arceau Squelette

Hublot celebrated 15 years of its flagship Big Bang model with the introduction of the first-ever Big Bang with an integrated metal bracelet, the Big Bang Unico Integral. The watch represents an extension to the existing Big Bang Unico 42 series, but also notably features an updated case design whose first link is fused with the new bracelet and whose chronograph pushers recall those of the very first Big Bang released in 2005. Fully visible behind the sapphire dial is the in-house, skeletonized Unico HUB1280 caliber, equipped with a chronograph function driven by a column wheel and a horizontal double-clutch mechanism. The self-winding movement, which comprises 354 components, boasts a flat automatic winding system and stores a power reserve of 72 hours, or three days, in its mainspring barrel. Its column wheel is visible from the front, behind the applied indices and subdials at 3 o’clock for elapsed minutes and 9 o’clock for running seconds. Check out all models of the Big Bang Integral here.

Hublot Big Bang Integral Titanium - reclining
Hublot Big Bang Integral Titanium

The latest iteration of the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One introduces a high-tech, plasma ceramic case to the recently introduced series, the first from Jaquet Droz to incorporate its familiar figure-eight dial design into an openworked movement. The material for the 41-mm case is made by treating white ceramic with gas heated to 20,000°C, which imparts to its surface an anthracite-gray metallic sheen, without adding any metal fragments to the process, making it as hard, lightweight and scratch-resistant as other high-tech ceramics used in watchmaking. The case’s gray tones are echoed in the finishing on the bridges of the stripped down caliber as well as in the sleek textile strap. Hours and minutes occupy the subdial at 12 o’clock, and the “Grande” seconds, the larger subdial at 6 o’clock. Underpinning this time display, and also visible from the rear side, is Jaquet Droz’s skeletonized Caliber 2663 SQ, with a 68-hour power reserve in two barrels. More details here.

Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One

Rado was innovating with high-tech ceramics before much of the rest of the watchmaking world, and the design-oriented brand continues to push boundaries in the use of that material — the latest example being the True Thinline Anima, a limited edition that features a ceramic case in matte olive green. “Anima” is a Latin word meaning “air,” “breath,” or “soul,” and refers to the openness of the watch’s extensively skeletonized movement, an ETA A31.L02, which has also been customized with bridges made from black anodized aluminum, an additional weight-reducing feature that is characteristic of Rado. The window at 6 o’clock showcases the current date on the fully exposed, skeletonized calendar disk. The monobloc case is lightweight, scratch-resistant material and ultra-thin, measuring 40 x 44.8 mm in diameter and 10.8 mm in thickness. Click here for more detail.

Rado True Thinline Anima - reclining
Rado True Thinline Anima
One Response to “2020, The Watch Year in Review: 7 Scintillating Skeleton Watches”

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  1. Happy New Year to everybody!!! 5 out of 7 are really scintillating but Bulgari looks like is missing the dial and Cartier……is……

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