We all know what a typical watch looks like. No matter the material, a typical watch would always have a strap, a case, a glass, and a dial. But sometimes, watchmakers like to put a twist on their designs and actually forego the dial — or at least the standard dial that we’re used to.
Skeleton watches are timepieces in which, through the dial, you would have direct visibility to the usually hidden mechanisms of the watch. Skeleton dials not only expose but properly showcase the intricate watch movements, making for a pretty awesome aesthetic. In this list, we’ll cover the best skeleton watches for both men and women under $500. So, excuse me for the pun, but let’s dig in.
1. Fossil Original Boyfriend Skeleton Chronograph
If you’ve read some of our other articles, then you might be familiar with this particular watch. You’ve probably noticed by now that we’re a fan of this watch. And for good reason! This Fossil Women’s Original Boyfriend Leather Watch is the perfect companion for the classy, modern gal. It has a beautiful rose gold-tone-plated stainless steel case that goes quite well with the brownish-gray genuine leather strap. The watch runs on an automatic mechanical movement and is water-resistant up to 50 meters. But what really takes the cake for this watch is its stunning skeleton dial that showcases the complicated inner workings of its movement. This dial is enclosed with a sturdy mineral crystal that protects it from gathering scratches that obscure the view of the dial. The watch has three luminous rose gold-tone hands that match the rose gold stainless steel case. Lastly, the watch has black hour marker lines that go around the skeleton dial of the timepiece.
2. Bulova Classic Automatic 96A187 Skeleton Watch
Looking for a classic stainless steel watch but one with a contemporary twist? Well, then you’d love this Bulova Classic Automatic Watch. This watch has a traditional stainless steel case and bracelet with a double-press deployant closure. The watch has a mechanical hand-wind movement which is wonderfully displayed due to its flat mineral glass face, skeleton dial, and exhibition caseback. It is also water-resistant up to 30 meters so it can withstand splashing, but it’s not one you can take out for a swim. The watch is fairly easy to read with its large Roman numeral indexes which are in a vibrant shade of blue. It has three watch hands which are in a mix of blue and white.
3. Bulova Gunmetal Automatic 98A179 Skeleton Watch
For back-to-back Bulova entries, we’ve got this Bulova Men’s Gunmetal Automatic Watch. This watch merges the traditional stainless steel look with a contemporary sports style with its sleek and cool gunmetal IP stainless steel case and bracelet. The material makes the timepiece give off a professional and stylish vibe but, at the same time, is perfect for the man on the go. True to its new sporty vibe, the watch can be worn while swimming or snorkeling, thanks to its 100m water-resistance. The watch has a push-button deployment clasp and a synthetic sapphire crystal face that protects the watch from collecting scratches, as to not obscure the view of the intricate automatic-self-wind movement through its skeleton dial. For the hour markers, the watch has a large “XII” at the 12 o’clock position, while the rest of the hours are represented by liner markers in silver. The watch has three hands which are also in silver, while the second hand has a bit of yellow on its tip.
4. Bulova Automatic Skeleton Dress Watch
It’s three Bulova watches in a row with this handsome Bulova Automatic Hand-Wind Dress Watch. This watch showcases a classic brown leather strap with an added alligator grain and a three-piece buckle closure. To match the handsome brown leather, the watch’s stainless steel case is a mix of dark brown and rose gold. The bezel is also in rose gold and its dial is enclosed in sturdy flat mineral glass. This watch runs with a mechanical hand-wind movement which is exposed for the wearer to enjoy, thanks to the skeleton dial and exhibition caseback. The watch is fairly easy to read due to the large Roman numeral indexes which are in a matching rose gold. This watch has three hands which are also in rose gold and is water-resistant up to 100 meters.
5. Stuhrling Original Automatic Skeleton Watch 906.01
Next up, we have this pretty awesome Stuhrling Original Men’s Automatic Watch. There is no doubt that the star of this exceptional timepiece is its intricately designed dial. This watch has quite an impressive blue premium leather strap with an embossed alligator pattern. The blue hue pairs perfectly with the stainless steel case. A neat thing about this watch is it’s powered by the natural movement of your wrist. Yes, it has a 22-jewel automatic self-winding mechanical movement that is beautifully showcased through the watch’s skeleton dial and exhibition caseback. On the dial, you can find an hour and minute hand in a striking blue color and matching blue hour line markers. Included in the dial’s design are two decorative and functional sub-dials. One is a GMT sub-dial that lets you keep track of time in two different time zones, and the other sub-dial is a sun and moon dial that tracks night and day.
6. Fossil Grant Automatic Skeleton Watch ME3099
If you want something classically elegant but with a fun little twist, check out this Fossil Men’s Grant Automatic Stainless Steel Mechanical Watch. This Fossil watch sports a traditional brown calfskin leather strap and a matching stainless steel case. The watch has a sturdy mineral dial window and is water-resistant up to 50 meters. Inspecting the dial, you’ll see that it has an open heart design, which gives you a peek at the automatic-self-wind movement at the center of the dial. Surrounding this are large Roman numeral hour markers in solid black. Lastly, the watch has three luminous hands that make for great visibility even in low light.
7. Swatch Unisex Silver Glam Skeleton Watch SUOZ147
If the traditional leather watch look isn’t for you and you’re hoping for a watch with a bit more modern vibe to it, then this Swatch Unisex watch might be just right up your alley. The watch’s black and silver coloring along with the materials it’s made from give this watch an overall contemporary feel. It has a black plastic case and a matching black silicone strap with buckle closure. The watch has a silver-tone bezel with black studs around it that act as hour markers, matching the black watch hands. Its skeleton dial lets you have a good look at the watch’s quartz movement. Lastly, the watch has a plastic dial window and is water-resistant up to 30 meters.
8. Stührling Original Automatic Skeleton Watch 889.01
Next on our list, we’ve got another stunning Stuhrling watch. The watch has a blue premium leather strap with an embossed alligator pattern and a deployant clasp. It has a nice stainless steel case with an exhibition caseback. The watch has a beautifully engraved skeleton dial that showcases the watch’s 22-jewel automatic self-winding movement. On the dial, you’ll find bright blue watch hands and large, white Arabic numerals for the 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock positions. The watch also has two sub-dials: one for GMT for dual time zones and another for the sun and moon tracking display.
9. Fossil Townsman Automatic Skeleton ME3098
If you’re familiar with our other articles here on Soulja Watch, then you’ll find this next entry quite familiar. Previously featured in our article on Fossil watches, we have the Fossil Men’s Townsman Automatic Stainless Steel Mechanical Watch. This watch has a handsome brown leather strap with a distressed design and buckle closure. Instead of the usual silver-tone stainless steel, the watch’s case is in a matte black finish. Speaking of the case, you’ll notice that only the outer frame is present and that the back is a completely transparent exhibition caseback. For its skeleton dial, the automatic self-wind movement is enclosed in the central circle of the dial. The space between the movement and the bezel is mostly transparent, with the exception of the black Roman numeral silhouettes going around the movement. Its three watch hands are also in the same shade of black, which create a good contrast against the watch movement which is mostly in silver and gold.
10. Invicta Russian Skeleton Diver 1090
This Invicta Men’s Skeleton Diver Watch puts a twist on the classic stainless steel watches with link bracelets. The watch is water-resistant up to 50 meters, making it a perfect companion on casual beach trips or a fun day at the pool. Just make sure not to go diving or snorkeling when you have this watch on since it’s not equipped for such water activities. As mentioned, this watch has a pretty interesting strap. The strap is a combination of a black polyurethane band and gold-tone center links with buckle closure. Matching the gold-tone links is the gold-tone stainless steel case that has a pretty nice scalloped bezel. The watch also has a sturdy synthetic sapphire dial window. Now looking into the dial, we have a numberless skeleton dial in black with white markers. A lot of gold tones are also seen on the skeleton dial, and at the center are the two watch hands in both black and white. The skeleton dial lets you have a peek at the mechanical hand-wind movement of the watch, which gathers energy through regularly winding the watch.
11. Stührling Original Automatic Skeleton Watch 371Z.03
Next up, we have another skeleton watch from Stuhrling Original. This watch has a pretty nice brown strap made from genuine leather and embossed with a cool alligator pattern. The watch has a neat gold-tone stainless steel case that pairs nicely with its strap. It has a pretty cool and intricate skeleton design with a numberless dial, using black line markers to indicate the hour positions. Matching the black markers are the black watch hands that make it quite easy to read the time. The dial also has a dual time sub-dial and a sun/moon sub-dial.
12. Stuhrling Original Automatic Skeleton 371Z.03
If you prefer a darker aesthetic, then this Stuhrling Original Men’s Automatic Skeleton Watch might just be your cup of (black) tea. The watch has a sleek stainless case and a cool black leather strap adorned with an embossed alligator pattern. Matching the strap is a black skeleton dial with eye-catching engraved scrollwork. The watch runs under an automatic self-wind movement that peeks through its skeleton dial. On the dial, you will find shark teeth indexes and a cool second-hand sub-dial at the 6 o’clock position.
13. Relic by Fossil Automatic Skeleton Watch
This next skeleton watch from Fossil looks like an old-timey time machine, and we’re here for it! The watch has a classic genuine brown leather strap but has an added embossed alligator design with gold-tone buckle closure. In line with the gold and brown theme, the watch’s case is a gold-tone plated stainless steel, and some of the skeleton design of the dial is also in a combination of brown and gold. This dial is protected by a mineral crystal face, and the watch is also water-resistant up to 50 meters. The outer part of the dial is a rich chocolate brown with gold writing on it that marks each passing second. For the hour markers, you can see the numbers 12 and 6 in their respective positions in big white Arabic numerals, while the rest of the hours are marked by big white dots. At the center, we have the three luminous watch hands with the watch’s self-winding movement as its background.
14. Stührling Original Automatic Skeleton Watch
Another Stuhlring watch makes it to this list with the Stührling Original Automatic Watch for Men. If you’ve noticed, a lot of the watches on this list have leather straps with embossed alligator patterns and this one is no exception. The black leather strap matches well with the classic stainless steel case which also has a pretty cool exhibition back. Now, moving on the dial, you’ll see that it would typically be your normal plain white dial if it weren’t for the intricate cutout design that lets the automatic-self-wind movement peek through. On the dial, you will also see that the 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions have their respective Roman numerals in vibrant blue color. The rest of the hour markers have indexes that are also in the same blue hue. To match with the hour markers, the two watch hands are also in blue. Another added feature on this watch is its sub-dials. Right next to the 9 o’clock position, you’ll see a dual time sub-dial for when you want to keep track of time in a different time zone. And in the 12 o’clock position is a cute sun and moon sub-dial.
15. Stührling Original Automatic Skeleton 571.33152
Taking a break from the timeless leather watch, we’ve got this stainless steel skeleton watch from Stuhrling. However, instead of the usual silver-tone stainless steel, this watch mixes silver tones with rose gold plating. Yes, the link bracelets are vertically alternating between silver and rose gold and have a deployant clasp. The bezel is in silver with a kind of ridging design to it. Continuing the rose gold theme, the Roman numeral hour markers are in rose gold, and the spaces between each number are cutout in a skeleton design to allow the wearer a view into the inner workings of the watch. On the dial, you’ll find two rose gold watch hands, a GMT sub-dial, and a sun and moon sub-dial.
16. Invicta Specialty Hand-Wind Skeleton Watch
For a skeleton watch, this Invicta Men’s Specialty Stainless Steel Mechanical Hand-Wind Watch has a pretty clean and somewhat minimal design. Similar to many of the leather watches on this list, this Invicta watch has a leather strap with an embossed alligator pattern and a buckle closure. The watch has a traditional stainless steel case and has a 30m water-resistance. For the dial, a good portion of the center is cut out to expose the mechanical hand-wind movement, leaving the center point for the three black watch hands. And on the outer parts of the dial, you will find a typical creamy white dial with black Roman numeral markers going around it.
17. A Alps Automatic Skeleton Watch SEW015
This A Alps Skeleton Watch has a royal vibe to it with its silver and gold tones and diamond design. The watch has a stainless steel bracelet with the design alternating between silver and gold. Its case is also stainless steel, along with its thin bezel. The ring directly within the bezel is in a gold design with diamond studs adorned around. For the dial, the cutout is at the center, revealing the mechanical hand-wind movement in gold plating. The hour and minute hands are in matching gold, however, the second hand is in a thin black. Between the cutout and the diamond and gold layer, you will find the gold Roman numeral hour markers that go around the watch, but with the 12 and 6 missing.
18. A Alps Automatic Skeleton TWS9005
For those wanting an edgy stainless steel watch, consider this A Alps automatic watch. The watch has a durable stainless steel case and bracelet, both plated in black. Its strap has a push-button hidden clasp and is quite easy to adjust. Protecting the dial is a scratch-proof high strength mineral glass that is also water-resistant up to 30 meters along with the rest of the watch. The watch has a cool skeleton design that shows off the mechanical movement in gold plating. Matching the gold, are the three watch hands and the Roman numeral hour markers that are decorated in Austrian diamonds.
19. Gute Automatic Steampunk Skeleton Watch
Looking for a 3D experience with your watches? Consider this Automatic Self-Winding Watch from Gute. This watch has a chrome-plated stainless steel band with a double-fold clasp. Its case is also stainless steel while the glass is a high hardness mineral glass. The watch also has a water-resistance of 30 meters, which is adequate for exposure to splashing, but not ideal for swimming. Now, going into the dial, you’ll see that it has a unique 3D index steampunk design. It has three watch hands in silver and index hour markers also in silver.
20. Gute Skeleton Steampunk Skeleton Watch
Last but not the least, we’ve got another Gute Mechanical Stainless Steel Skeleton Watch. This watch has a black leather strap with an embossed alligator pattern and white thread lining. The watch’s case is stainless steel and its bezel features screw-like stud design. For a skeleton watch, the dial has a pretty simple look with a dominantly silver design with hints of gold. The watch does not have any number hour markers and has three watch hands, with both the hour and minute hands being in black and the second hand in red.
Skeleton watches are truly one of the more beautifully and thoughtfully designed watches out there. They’re the type of watch to garner attention from strangers and compliments from friends. And these watches actually showcase the real protagonist of a timepiece, and that is the intricate movements that make the watch work. Having a skeleton watch will hopefully make one appreciate the art behind watchmaking more. And if you haven’t already, go ahead and get your own skeleton watch to show off that dazzling design.
For more affordable watch lists, check out our article on the best affordable mechanical watches under $500.