Removing the veil of mystery without losing the magic of intricate timekeeping is a special art form.

There’s something fascinating about the inner workings of a watch – so silent and subtle, yet accurate and functional.

The idea of displaying them in open faces was born in the 18th century to French watchmaker André-Charles Caron, who foresaw that watches would become even more irresistible with their magic out in the open. This reduced movements to its vital components, which remarkably only increases its sense of intrigue.

Top watch makers today continue this legacy as a means to display their craft and expertise in the timeless art of timekeeping. As a result, we have our pick of classics that elevate personal style while celebrating watchmaking for the intricate art form that it is.

Here are some of our favourite skeleton designs that prove how sometimes, all we need are the bare necessities.

Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton Watch
Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton Watch

Cartier Santos-Dumont Skeleton Watch

The Santos-Dumont embodies the luxurious elegance so synonymous to Cartier. This gorgeous piece features a skeleton complication of bridges in the form of Roman numerals, and individually numbered movement comprising 138 parts - where you will also find 20 jewels. The square face lends a unique touch while rhodium-finished brass sword-shaped hands give a pop of rustic splendour. W cartier.com

Piaget Altiplano G0A39125
Piaget Altiplano G0A39125

Piaget Altiplano G0A39125

Cased in 18k pink gold with 78 brilliant-cut diamonds, this Piaget has a 3mm self-winding gem-set skeleton mechanical movement - the thinnest in the world. The piece is finished with 11 little cabochon-cut rubies, wich complement the gold-brown hues of the face and strap with a vintage edge. W piaget.com

Girard Perregaux Laureato Skeleton
Girard Perregaux Laureato Skeleton

Girard Perregaux Laureato Skeleton

If you're into a more silently sophisticated design, the octagonal-faced Laureato Skeleton is the timepiece for you. Available in 45mm, 42mm, 38mm and 34mm sizes, this watch is a contemporary classic with its polished steel strap, 25 jewels and bare touches of colour around the movement. W girard-perregaux.com

Blancpain Villeret Squelette 8 Jours
Blancpain Villeret Squelette 8 Jours

Blancpain Villeret Squelette 8 Jours

From the brand's Villeret collection comes one of the most intricate open-worked movements, displaying the outstanding skeleton-working, beveling and engraving crafts of the watchmaker. '8 Jours' stands for the eight-day power reserve of the timepiece, which is equipped with a titanium balance, Breguet balance spring, and three series-coupled barrels for the manual-wind Calibre 1333SQ. W blancpain.com

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Carbon Skeleton Automatic
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Carbon Skeleton Automatic

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Carbon Skeleton Automatic

The clever use of carbon, which is twice as light as brass, reflects the brash innovation that is core to Roger Dubuis creations. The rugged man would appreciate the rubber strap with red calf leather inlay and stitching, which goes nicely with the one of the most complicated, purple-studded skeletons we've seen in a luxury watch. This perfectly-ordered chaos comes in a limited edition of 88 pieces. W rogerdubuis.com

Hublot Classic Fusion Ultra-Thin Skeleton All Black
Hublot Classic Fusion Ultra-Thin Skeleton All Black

Hublot Classic Fusion Ultra-Thin Skeleton All Black

If simplicity is your style, this all-black Hublot pieces is your best bet. Off the Classico Ultra-Thin line, this skeleton watch incorporates a modern architectural aesthetic that gives the practically-antique skeleton style a fresh lift. W hublot.com

Ulysse Nardin Executive Skeleton Tourbillon
Ulysse Nardin Executive Skeleton Tourbillon

Ulysse Nardin Executive Skeleton Tourbillon

With an exceptional 170-hour power reserve, this new release has a simple skeleton with large but subtle Roman numerals at the four main points. It incorporates silicum technology and has a titanium case with ceramic bezel, paired with a leather strap with carbon structure. W ulysse-nardin.com

 

Images courtesy of respective watch makers.