Hiren Kumar Bose on the best and the priciest skeleton watches of 2015
They have been called by different names, like open-worked calibres, see-through models or plainly cut-away dials but the name skeleton has stuck with them. In the realm of horology, skeleton-work expresses a blend of technical refinement and artistry that generally involves paring functional movement components down to an absolute minimum.
Rotonde De Cartier Astrotourbillon Skeleton Watch
Uniqueness: Unlike classic tourbillons which rotate around their own axis, the Astrotourbillon is distinguished by its elongated cage that enables the balance to make a complete circle of the dial in a minute, thus marking the seconds and evoking a star.
Architecture & Design: Entirely laid bare, disentangled from all other mechanisms in order to move into the foreground, it has been entirely rethought and created according to the strictest rules of proportion, harmony and balance. Behind lies an aesthetic intention, a daring creative stance that aims to highlight the movement’s structure so that it “disappears” behind the imposing XII and VI on the dial – a true Cartier signature. Freeing up this space allowed the Maison’s watchmakers to showcase the Astrotourbillon in all its majesty and increase the amplitude of its rotation. Entirely skeletonised, the main plate of the 9461 MC movement rests on just these two Roman numerals (XII and the VI). In this unique architecture, these bridges powerfully structure the calibre, defining its appearance and supporting the construction. This architecture is aerial both in terms of its structure and its tourbillon cage. In fact, its elongated form enlarges the amplitude of its trajectory and evokes a celestial body travelling through space.
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Skeleton Tourbillon with gem-set rubber bezel
Uniqueness: A skeleton watch with a rubber bezel framing a diamond-set dial, first of its kind. The sheer physical difficulties implied in actually setting the gems on an elastic material such as rubber unites polar opposites. Two years of research, undertaken by the renowned Geneva-based gem-setting specialist Pascal Vincent Vaucher, were devoted to this astonishing technical feat and a “Soft Stones in the Sky” patent has been duly registered to protect this groundbreaking development.
Architecture & Design: The timepiece picks up the signature features of Roger Dubuis skeleton timepieces: the star-shaped design, the tourbillion carriage shaped like a Celtic cross and the high-end finishes including the circular grained plate of hand-wound Calibre RD505SQ. The Manufacture pushes boundaries, thanks to its light yet robust titanium case and flange which are also openworked.
Corum Golden Bridge Dragon & Phoenix
Uniqueness: It presents an encounter between two of the most fascinating creatures in Chinese mythology: the dragon, symbol of life and strength, and the phoenix, bearer of good omens. Joined together by the legendary baguette movement that is exclusive to Corum, these mythical beasts bring the promise of prosperity. Hand-sculpted from gold, they come to life through meticulous engraving; a single piece takes three weeks to complete.
Architecture & Design: A lesson in mechanical virtuosity, as revealed by the linear architecture of the CO113 calibre whose vertical axis is prolonged by the crown at 6 o’clock to further highlight its exceptional construction. The movement is enclosed inside the transparency of a tonneau case with crystal, back and sides all in sapphire, so that the eye can embrace both dragon and phoenix in their three dimensions.
Louis Moinet Memoris
Uniqueness: The key idea behind it is to make the chronograph not just a complication but the central component of the watch. A chronograph that also tells time. It shows off its monopusher chronograph’s column wheel and gearing at the top of the beautiful cut-away dial and skeletonised Concepto-built calibre.
Architecture & Design: It has a single pusher and features a clutch column wheel. But what is more interesting is that the entire chronograph function has been shifted to the dial. Each aspect of the chronograph’s action can be admired as it is engaged, stopped and reset. The blued hands stand out very clearly against the dial with the chronograph seconds at the centre and the 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock. The continuous seconds are positioned at 9 o’clock while the time is indicated in the sub-dial at 6 o’clock. The “1806” date on the hour and minute display reminds one of the key dates in the life of Louis Moinet, when he created the Napoleon’s clock. Usually destined to serve as pivots for the components to move smoothly, here the jewels are integrated also in the lugs to ensure smooth, effortless rotation. The automatic LM54 chronograph calibre beats at 28,800 vibrations per hour and offers 48 hours of power reserve. It features the “Energie Plus” system for improved winding in both directions. In addition, a miniature ceramic ball bearing mounted on the dual-material rotor makes winding up operations smoother by minimising friction.
Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon 5-Day Power Reserve Indicator
Uniqueness: Features a beautiful skeleton movement and an added practical power reserve indicator function on the dial side.
Architecture & Design: Designed, developed and produced entirely by Hublot’s micro-mechanics, engineers and watchmakers, its proprietary movement is a traditional tourbillon with a cage measuring 13.6 mm in diameter – a minute tourbillon that performs one revolution every minute – and whose construction featuring a barrette on the dial side ensures its stability. It has been specially fitted with a practical power reserve indicator, visible on the dial side, and has also been remodelled with new bridge and main plate architecture. In keeping with the theme of interchangeability and adaptability, the piece features a unique bracelet attachment system which allows the bracelet to be switched quickly and easily while guaranteeing optimal security.