Much in favour with watchmaking aficionados in the 18th century, the art of skeleton-working is making its big comeback in 2015. A number of brands already presented superb examples of this delicate horological exercise at the SIHH, while others who have given us a glimpse of their new releases for Baselworld confirm the trend: the mood is all about mechanical exhibitionism.

For Roger Dubuis, skeleton-working goes well beyond an isolated demonstration of its expertise. A pioneer in the field of contemporary skeleton calibres, including some iconic models that have been significant milestones in its history since 2005, the brand has proclaimed 2015 the year of the Astral Skeleton and is interpreting the sculpture of its movements in a variety of ways around the Excalibur collection. The very black, very futuristic Excalibur Spider Skeleton Double Flying Tourbillon sets the tone. This sporty, functional and architectural timepiece raises the bar extremely high. All the parts essential to its operation have been skeleton-worked, forming an airy horological composition that appears to be inspired by a contemporary cityscape. The use of titanium ensures that the overall effect is remarkably light, both visually and on the wrist.

Roger Dubuis - Excalibur Spider Double Tourbillon Volant Squelette

Excalibur Spider Skeleton Double Flying Tourbillon. © Roger Dubuis

Coincidentally, within just a few days of this release, Hysek also unveiled a reinterpretation of its double tourbillon in a skeleton version. The Verdict 46mm Skeleton Double Tourbillon confirms the brand’s research on the themes of purity and transparency. Alternating void and matter create a subtle contrast in forming a design dominated by light. Only the main, essential parts have been kept. Framed by a pink gold case, the vision of the wheels, levers, springs and of the two tourbillons coupled by a differential gear mechanism is simply stunning.

Hysek - Verdict 46mm Double Tourbillon, cadran saphir

The Verdict 46mm Skeleton Double Tourbillon. © Hysek

Cartier also composes an anthem to transparency with the Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon Skeleton Calibre 9461 MC watch, which admirably illustrates the company’s aesthetic creativity as well as its considerable efforts expanded on technical innovation. The entirely skeleton-worked movement plate rests on two Roman XII and VI numerals, the Cartier watchmaking signature. Majestically staged against the backdrop of this breathtaking demonstration of the visual power of emptiness, the amplitude of the Astrotourbillon’s rotations is dramatically enhanced and creates a surprising sense of sheer weightlessness.

Cartier - Rotonde Astrotourbillon Squelette

Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon Skeleton Calibre 9461 MC. © Cartier

Radically different in both aesthetic terms and spirit, the new skeleton watch from Perrelet reveals the airy finesse of its movement through the cut-outs of its aluminium turbine. The transparency game affording observes a chance to admire the finishes of the in-house P-381 calibre is extremely subtle, and the rotation of the turbine enables an extremely original view of the movement structure. Available in three variations with a decidedly sporty style, this first model of its kind is bound to appeal to fans of the Turbine collection.

Perrelet - Turbine Skeleton

Turbine Skeleton. © Perrelet

As if to offer definitive proof that 2015 is well and truly the year of skeleton watches, even names one would not necessarily expect to find in this domain are introducing their own take on this demanding and refined art. With the RL 1967 calibre equipping the new RL Automotive Skeleton watch, Ralph Laurent signals its entrance into the prestigious club of brands capable of thus combining technical expertise with artistic creativity. On this model, the black finishes on the mainplate and bridges create a pleasing contrast with the varnished amboyna burl wood, as well as the steel and brass parts of the wheels, balance and hands.

Ralph Lauren - RL Automotive Skeleton

RL Automotive Skeleton. © Ralph Lauren