A closer look into a skeletonized watch

by Marc-Andre Schmid

Exposing all its complicated inner workings, skeletonized watches enable a captivating view on the craftsmanship and artwork inside a watch. This technique also opens up a vast realm of creative freedom for watchmakers, making these timepieces true wearable artworks and bringing transparency to the craft of Swiss watchmaking. By letting you inside, they really reveal the heart of this artform.

Crafting-of-the-first-skeletonized-watches-1760

The skeleton watch was first invented in 1760 by Andre-Charles Caron, a Frenchmen who would later become the resident clockmaker to King Louis XV. He and his protege son-in-law Jean-Antoine Lepine realised revealing the intricate interlocking dials and cogs customers became instantly entranced with the Frankensteinian nature of its construction.

 Ovids-Myth-of-David-and-Actaeon-Painting-Zurichberg

Like Ovid’s myth of "Diana and Actaeon", something about the watch’s nudity seemed salaciously captivating and elegantly enticing to a reserved 18th century society, maybe even involuntarily becoming a symbol for the epoch of enlightenment by breaking up entrenched structure.

Patek-Phillipe-Skeletonized-Watch

As the rest of the world abandoned their interest in artisanal labours as the age of the internet arrived, Swiss watchmakers like Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe or Hublot revived the skeletonised style to further cement their unblemished reputation for superiority. Despite their often gaudy public perception, the skeleton watch found a fandom amongst today’s wealthy horological hoarders as well as watch lovers with a smaller budget due to their visual focus on mechanical mastery compared to the saturated field of quartz watches. The surreal yet by definition conceptually conservative nature of the skeleton watch places emphasis on transparency and the beaty in untouched exhibitions of complex craftsmanship.


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