Skeleton Watch: Automatic Parts Exposed

April 13th, 2012 | 24 Comments

For those of you out there who want a watch that really stands out, skeleton watches are a beautiful and unique form of traditional watchmaking.

The mechanical parts, normally hidden from eyesight, are easily visible to the wearer to some degree. Some allow only a glimpse of the inner-workings of the watch (i.e. semi-skeleton), whereas others simply have no face or sport clear backs/sides.

Read on to answer:

Why is a skeleton watch special?

This elegant look is made possible by filing down all of the mechanical elements without threatening the structural integrity of the parts. Often a master-craftsman personally shaves, signs, and engraves each piece of the watch, resulting in an enormous range of creative designs and prices available for skeleton watch aspirers.

There are such a multitude of skeleton watch designs on the market that everyone should be able to find one they like and can afford.

What types of skeleton watches are there?

Although there are quartz-powered skeleton watches on the market, they are overwhelmingly represented by mechanical versions, either manually or automatically powered.

Automatic skeleton watches simply integrate the technique used in skeleton watch design with the modern self-powered mechanical watch design. The watches have a self winding device that is relatively heavy, and therefore, is affected by gravity. This device is supported but yet guided along a circular rail. As the wearer swings his/her arm while walking, the heavier piece remains pointed at the ground, swinging back and forth relative to the rest of the watch. This pendulum action winds the mainspring of the watch a tiny bit (with the aid of the escapement system) with each swing of the arm, easily generating enough energy to keep the watch going for 1-2 days after it has been taken off. Most Orient automatic watches have around 40 hours of run time when fully wound. This eliminates the necessity for batteries, but does typically translate into a higher cost for the watch.

Unfortunately for female watch enthusiasts, there is a far greater number of skeletal designs for men than women. This is not to say that it is a lost cause, but the style just seems to have a broader appeal for men.

Low-end skeleton watches typically run around $100, with an average falling in between $200 and $300. However, the high-end specialties seem to jump exponentially, contingent upon how much you want to spend.

Orient Watch company is one of the world’s leading automatic watch manufacturers, and the in-house movements are made visible by an array of automatic semi-skeletal watch designs available on the market for anywhere between $200 and $700. The ladies design (CDB01003T) comes in a variety of colors and sells for $250. In addition, there are a number of racing inspired watches, such as the CFT00004B ($650 on sale now), along with a large variety of aesthetic semi-skeletons. All of the watches are water resistant to at least 50m, but most are resistant to 100m. For any automatic skeleton watch aspirer doing research on relative brand pricing, the staggering MSRP disparity between Orient and other automatic skeleton producers should be immediately apparent.


  1. 24 Comments | Tell us what you think!

  2. By Brennon Thompson on Sep 23, 2009

    Hope to win one of your great watches.

  3. By Chris on Sep 23, 2009

    Skeleton watches, to me, are like two extremes. They can look either elegant and beautiful or gaudy and over-the-top. The layout and construction can really go a long way in making a watch appear this way.

    Personally, I’m more fond of the semi-skeleton type (particularly the open-heart style).

    An Orient watch will definitely give you a good bang for the buck, considering they are in-house movements. Many Orient designs are classic in style and appearance. I’m not too aware of many of Orient’s offerings, and the one Orient watch I do own is not a skeleton watch. However, I’m sure that anyone out there is bound to find something they like. Hopefully Orient USA will start bringing in some of the Japanese Domestic Models over to the US as some of them are quite extraordinary looking.

  4. By Frank In Miami on Sep 23, 2009

    I own an Orient Racing Skeleton CFT00004B which, imho, is one of the most beautiful semi-skeleton watches offered by Orient in the US market. I absolutely love the looks of that piece and the sheer amount of intricate details in the dial with its 7 heart openings. I never tire to gaze at the spring, escapement and gears all working in a symphony of complete perfection.

    I agree with the previous poster that skeletons are a bit of an acquired taste and some designs can be down right tacky looking and in some instances, unreadable at a glance.

    Thank you, Orient, for bringing a superb alternative to the US market in terms of design, quality, innovation and affordable price.

  5. By Deryl on Sep 23, 2009

    Window to tempo
    Graceful crafted metal
    See Orient time

  6. By danni wa on Sep 24, 2009

    i love the skeleton watch

  7. By Renee on Nov 23, 2009

    This is the coolest looking watch I have ever seen…I would love to win one.

  8. By Howard on Nov 25, 2009

    I own an Orient CDB05001T (open heart with a sapphire crystal) that I got from a previous Orient DOD. It is currently my favorite watch and I think it will be for a long time. I find it to be simple and elegant yet sophisticated due to the semi-skeleton design. The see-thru caseback also allow me to admire the inner workings and craftsmanship when I take-off my watch. The solid stainless steel bracelet is as comfortable as can be. Also, the contrasting links offer just enough detail without being over the top.

  9. By Richard on Dec 5, 2009

    I recently bought an Orient 100m power reserve
    automatic with orange bezel. The watch is extremely high quality for thew price and is absolutely a knockout. Only problem is I can’t tell the time on it. The hands are very hard to see when they line up with the power reserve and or date subdial. I am trying to locate other hands that will fit this movement or possibly paint the existing hands, but they would no longer be luminous. Any suggestions?

  10. By Damian on Mar 24, 2010

    A style of watch that is on my purchase list. Only change I would make to it is adding a metal band instead of the leather.

  11. By sanjeev on May 19, 2010

    i wana say rhat,”the desired beauties are made here”.

  12. By Auto Part Index on Jul 9, 2010

    i want to say is that i like these watch which are setting here. very much interested.

  13. By dr dushyant on Sep 3, 2010

    skeleton watches are really beautifull .

  14. By justin on Dec 10, 2010

    I personally love skeleton watches and think watches should be as elegant and functional as they used to be!!!

  15. By Praveen on Jan 7, 2011

    Nice pic dude, put up some watchmaking videos, they are really passionate & make me drool {wipes saliva from mouth} ;)

  16. By Dre Graham on Mar 16, 2011

    Brilliant looking watch i very like the skelton watch second picture down the one with the silver band i’ll pay any amount of money for it

    Thank You

  17. By Jossie E G on May 25, 2011

    Ever since I saw these Skeleton Watches I FELL IN LOVE! These watches are so versatile, I will NEVER wear another plain watch.

  18. By Marc on Aug 26, 2011

    That is a great looking watch!

  19. By Nico Steenkist on Oct 5, 2011

    I love Skeleton Watches. I made one myself. I cleaned my old automatic mechanic watch and removed the ?dial-plate? I had to leave a small piece of it in place. I liked to see the internal fine constructed parts moving the time and the small ring with the day-numbers :) The watch has served me for many years, till I lost it many years ago. Now and then I search the internet for skeleton watches. Till now I cant decide for one. Those watches in this article are really astonishing beautiful.

  20. By Bill on May 13, 2012

    This is a nice watch, but do you have this same model in gold-tone? Thanks.

  21. By Jake on Jun 29, 2012

    Wow, this is legitimately the coolest watch in the world. I can’t believe that watch. Huge respect for who thought up the design and whoever built it as well, that is 1000000000% awesome. Coolest watch ever!!!!!!

  22. By duncan on Aug 10, 2012

    These are awesome objects

  23. By Kevin on Sep 11, 2012

    While watches can be a simple timepiece, an accessory to your attire, or a work of art, skeleton watches are on an entirely different level!
    The beauty and craftsmanship of these mechanically masterful devices continues to amaze and mesmerize.
    Not only do they remind us of the intricate engineering of watches that so many take for granted, but the style one chooses allows others to catch a glimpse inside the wearer, who they are, and how they tick.

  24. By Mark on Nov 8, 2012

    love skeleton watches… been trying to find a brand with a good reputation. Stumbled on this site… can’t wait to see what’s available.

  25. By Greenbuildconsult.Com on Mar 26, 2013

    I think that everything said was very logical. But, what about this?

    what if you added a little content? I ain’t suggesting your information is not good., but suppose you added a title that makes people want more? I mean Skeleton Watch: Automatic Parts Exposed is a little plain. You might glance at Yahoo’s
    home page and see how they create article titles to get people to
    click. You might try adding a video or a picture or two to get people interested
    about what you’ve got to say. Just my opinion, it might make your posts a little bit more interesting.

24 comments | Tell us what you think!