It’s not simple to design an eye movement. Even in their simplest, they include more than a hundred components, a number of them near-microscopic, crammed into a couple of cubic centimetres. For reasons of efficiency and ethics, therefore, the moving parts are mounted into a solid disk — the mainplate — also held in place with other relatively sturdy plates, commonly called bridges. And if it were a simple matter of technology, there that the story will end. But proud craftsmen they are, watchmakers could not stop there.
The notion of cutting back the structure of a movement into its bare bones (hence”skeletonisation”) dates back as far as the 1760s, when a watchmaker by the name of André-Charles Caron began cutting off as far humanist metal as possible out of his movements, and then removed the dial and caseback to let it be seen.
But it stayed a very niche artisan craft before the 2000s, when the arrival of computer-aided design with precision cutting machines meant that skeletonised watches may be designed that way from the get-go. Unexpectedly, openworked watches became the norm for any brand wanting to create headlines with a brand new launching.
In 2019, no statement was as emphatic as the Audemars Piguet Code 11.59, which debuts a brand new, complicated case shape for its storied brand. AP has great pedigree combining traditionally skeletonised moves — lately adopting a darkened palette of brushed anthracite grey — using all the bold, geometric case design of this Royal Oak, therefore it is perhaps no surprise that the top of the Code 11.59 references is the Tourbillon Openworked. The burning off of excess material also extends into the case itself, with its wireframe lugs.

An benefit of skeletonisation is the fact that it frees designers from after the classical layout of the motion; yet without a dial there stay obvious queries of legibility. It’s a smart move that attracts the 1980s classic current.
So emblematic of contemporary watch design has skeletonisation been that some brands have chosen to use it on every single watch, no matter the design or purpose.
Chances are, it will not find a great deal of deep dives — but it’s undeniably got a true sense of fun. If we are talking about reducing things to their barest essence, isn’t that what contemporary watch collecting is all about?

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