7 of the best Skeleton Watches for every budget
James Elliott10 February 2021 | 7 min read
Of the many different types of watches, not many capture the magic of watchmaking quite like a skeleton. Designed to give the wearer visibility of the watch’s movement, skeleton watches are popular across the globe especially with watch enthusiasts.
You may think that given it’s intricate design a skeleton watch will set you back a lot of cash, making them reserved only for those in the mid range and luxury markets. Well, you’d be wrong! There are a number of different brands offering fantastic skeleton watches for not only less than $500, but less than $300 and even $100 too!
In this article, we’re going to walk you through our top picks of skeleton watches under $500, comparing them on their features, prices and build quality whilst of course reviewing their stunning skeleton designs.
Let’s get started by looking at the best skeleton watch under $100.
If you’ve read our Invicta 8926ob vs Submariner article, you might gather that we’re not the biggest fans of Invicta’s homages. Or well, homages in general for that matter.
That being said, there aren’t a ton of options out there for skeleton watches under $100. And at the end of the day, Invicta do provide good value for money in this price range.
We start off with a brand many of you may not have heard of before and that’s Invicta. The budget friendly brand operates well within the sub-$100 market, making watches for those with limited budgets or just for those getting started with watches.
This skeleton model specifically comes in a classic silver/black leather dress watch combination and creates a piece that would look equally great on a work day as it would at a casual dinner with friends.
Specs wise, you’re getting a 42mm case with a respectably thin 14mm thickness, a mechanical movement, leather strap and 30m water resistance. You’ll see the skeleton design here straight away, with the face matching a clean white dial and black roman numerals with a full-exhibition caseback to show off the movement from the front or the back.
The best thing about this watch is the price. If you’re looking to get started with a skeleton watch on a budget, at around $65 you’re getting a steal! Reviewers love this watch on that price basis alone, but remember, at this price, the quality and time accuracy will not blow you away!
Skeleton Watches Under $300
Stepping up the budget ladder a little, we have more options for the under $300 bracket. Here you’ll find nice pieces from Fossil, Orient, Rotary, and Bulova.
As we move on up into the sub-$300 band we start to come across some more recognisable budget brands. Fossil is an incredibly popular American fashion watch provider, creating good quality mens and womens watches at a fantastic price.
When it comes to affordable skeleton watches, their Grant Automatic model is a fantastic option. Whilst it comes in three different colour variants, we’re picking out the blue/rose gold model as a stylish dress watch choice.
With its 45mm size, mineral crystal, blue leather and 50m water resistance, you’re getting a solid watch that will look good on the wrist for any occasion. When it comes to the skeleton design, like the Invicta, it matches a roman numeral outer design with the exhibition centre to showcase that movement.
Despite the bargain price, reviewers call out how accurate the watch is, losing little time over a weekly period. So, if you’re wanting to take a small step up from the sub-$100 range, we’d recommend the Grant Automatic as a great place to start!
We now move onto one of the most reliable and high-quality budget brands on the market, Orient. We’re big fans of Orient watches here at Watch & Bullion given their combination of well made, Japanese movements and budget friendly prices.
The model we’ve picked out today is no exception – meet the Bambino Open Heart. Whilst not a ‘full’ skeleton watch, the open heart design gives just enough of a glimpse at the movement to satisfy those who want to keep an eye on the magic of the piece’s inner workings.
The clean design of this watch makes it a perfect formal accessory, with the black dial matched perfectly to the slender silver markings and baton hands. You’ll find that open heart at the 9 o’clock position. It strikes the perfect balance of showing just enough of the movement without dominating the entire dial.
At 40mm it’s a nice size for those with smaller wrists whilst also throwing in a premium domed mineral crystal and 30m of water resistance. The best bit of all is the price! At just $180, you’ll struggle to find a watch in any category for the same level of quality as the Bambino.
We jump back to the pure skeleton watches now and come to a brand that’s perhaps best known for its budget-friendly skeleton watches in Rotary. The Swiss/British brand are another supremely popular budget watchmaker and have a high number of skeleton watches to choose from!
But today, we’re picking out their Greenwich model as the quintessential Rotary skeleton piece. Building upon that white dial/roman numeral design we’ve seen before, the Greenwich also pulls in a rose gold case and black leather strap to create an all round excellent skeleton dress watch.
The 42mm piece also incorporates a self-winding automatic movement and 50m of water resistance which are both steps up from what we’ve seen previously. Rotary are known for their quality, so expect premium steel, rose gold plating, genuine leather and strong finishing along the case and strap.
This watch sits at the upper end of the sub-$300 category at around $275. This is still a lot of watch for the money and if you have the whole $300 to spend, it’s a definite contender as the best skeleton watch you can buy at this price point!
To finish off our picks under $300, we come to Bulova. For those of you who haven’t come across the brand before, Bulova’s roots sit in the US where the brand was built on its budget friendly pricing and stylish design. Now owned by Japanese giant Citizen, the brand adds great build quality to its pieces too!
The specific skeleton model we’re pulling out today (98A214) moves away from the dress watch themes we’ve seen so far and into more of a sport watch feel. This all steel/gold piece looks striking and is guaranteed to catch the eye whilst it’s on your wrist.
At 43mm it’s a good size alongside a strong domed mineral crystal, 30m of water resistance and a stainless steel bracelet. That striking design combines gold/steel on the dial to perfectly frame that skeleton exhibition behind a stylish baton hand and slim hour marking combination.
At $290 it just creeps into the sub-$300 range and it’s a fantastic choice at this price point. This watch will likely be for you if you’re looking for something more sporty, but given Bulova’s pedigree, if you do choose this watch, you’re guaranteed to be moving in style.
Skeleton Watches Under $500
Finally, let’s take a look at skeleton timepieces between $301 – $500. Here, we’ll be looking at two really nice pieces from Maserati, and Bulova respectively.
As we move up above $300, we start with a brand you’ll have definitely heard of but maybe not because of their watches. Maserati are one of the most well known luxury sports car brands in the world, with their Spyder and Quattroporte models on many people’s bucket lists.
But the brand also has a range of budget friendly watches, and today we’re pulling out the Triconic Skeleton as one of our picks under $500.
Coming in a rose gold/blue leather combination the Triconic’s layered design might give some of our readers thoughts of famous Hublot models. Whilst not quite batting in Hublot’s league, this 40mm piece definitely sits on the sporty side with the skeleton exhibition nicely exposed in the centre of the dial.
As you might expect from a brand such as Maserati, this watch incorporates some high quality features including a domed mineral crystal, automatic movement and 100m of water resistance (the most we’ve seen from a watch so far!)
And at around $425, you can finally get your hands on a Maserati without needing to invest thousands of dollars. A well made, stylish watch from one of the world’s most luxurious brands – what’s not to like?
We’ll finish our round up with another Bulova model, this time the Self Winding 98A177. Much like our previous Bulova model, this piece brings a skeleton exhibition into a beautifully designed watch at a budget friendly price!
This time following a black and rose gold theme, the 98A177 is an impressive but technical looking watch with smooth lines and a premium look and feel. At 46mm it’s a large piece thayt’s perfect for those with bigger wrists. The back silicone strap completes the sporty look and feel making it a great watch to wear when on the go.
The automatic movement packs a 40 hour power reserve and for the first time we see a watch with a premium sapphire crystal. When combined with 100m of water resistance, you don’t have to be worried about damage thanks to it’s high quality materials and high-spec finish.
As you’d expect, this is our most expensive watch of the day, coming in at around $450. At this price, you really are getting a bargain whilst having some money to spare within a $500 budget. If you want a sporty skeleton watch, there’s not many better we could recommend as the best skeleton watch under $500.
That’s All From Us
Thanks for joining us on this round up of the best skeleton watches under $500. Skeleton watches look fantastic but they aren’t reserved just for those in the mid-range of luxury markets. There’s a multitude of options under $500 with select models even available for those on a sub $300, or even sub $100, budget!