My previous experience with a skeleton watch was some years ago (long gone now) and have to say, it just never lived up to my expectation. Mostly because the whole dial was so taken up with a trellis style frame, which held the movement in place, I struggled a), to see the movement properly and b), to make out the time.
Now OK, I get the point that the function is really to show the inner, rather than the outer, but that particular watch, just didn’t do it for me. You don’t need a frame holding the movement getting in the way and with a solid a minute/hour index around the circumference, again obscuring the view, then it’s not really skeleton at all.
But, as with the nature of the beast – as they say – skeleton is skeleton.
However, the watch in my opinion has to look good and different too, so design has to be an important consideration. I’ve also seen so called skeleton models with quartz movements, where quartz and movement are for me a contradiction in terms – the only moving parts being the hands and maybe a cogwheel? which seems hardly worth the effort.
However, I was intrigued by the modern look and style of what’s called the ‘full hollow’ design – and this is the CIGADesign ‘Forbidden City Ceramic Edition’ automatic skeleton – and right from the shape of the case, to the material used and the overall design, this just seems that bit different from other skeletons around.
It’s a nice size at 41mm x 41mm, has a proper Sapphire crystal over an intriguing and beautifully crafted made, subtly dark, high strength Zirconia full hollow ceramic case. And being hollow, pretty much the whole movement working detail can be seen from either the front or the back, so a true skeleton. It is coupled with a quick release 22mm ultra soft silicon hi-colour strap and buckle. Very comfortable to wear too.
It’s also pretty good value compared with many and cost effective, in that it’s powered by a SeaGull ST1646K, 19 jewel Automatic mechanical movement. This features a 40 Hour Power Reserve, 21,600A/h and with an accuracy of -15 to +30 seconds per day, which once settled in and running on the wrist can be pretty decent.
Designed by Zhang Jianmim, the Design Brand Founder from China, it belies those who still think China watches are somehow inferior – this one is a very decent watch, from the inspired design to the very different, modern look and a high quality result.
This model comes in three colours – Dusk Blue, Midnight black and the one featured here is Sunset red.
At first meeting, in the flesh, as it were and on the wrist, it certainly appears as a rather stunningly attractive watch. The design has also been approved by the Industry and has both the Red Dot Award and the 2019 German Design Award.
As to clarity – well that’s always the issue with any skeleton watch. The fact that skeleton has to be see-through and the outer hands are the time indicators, it’s tricky. My personal test is to give the watch a glance – if I can quickly read the time, it passes, if not, it doesn’t. This model has silver flat hour and minute hands, also skeleton surprisingly and fortunately they tend to shine – so are just OK visible – so after a little wearing time, getting used to it, it might just pass my glance test. But the jury, it has to be said, is still out on this one. The sweep seconds hand is coloured red which should help.
The rear window view of course is not obscured by hands anyway and you can see the entire movement quite clearly.
In conclusion, it’s a comfortable watch on the wrist and a nice size, fits under a shirt cuff easily and when noticed, is always a talking point around the dinner table. The hi-colour strap first catches the attention, then as the dark ceramic case and skeleton dial come into view, it’s usually, “Ooh I like that, where did you get it?”.
So, as said, this is my second skeleton model and yes, perhaps a little different to the usual. The CigaDesign full hollow skeleton a rather nice addition to my eclectic collection of watches and nice to have – PLUS – this one was affordable, looks good – and I have to admit, it suits me rather well – what could be better? Well – that’s the question isn’t it?
In all honesty, I’m still unsure as to this skeleton idea, mostly because by it’s very nature, it is simply not as easy to read as a solid faced watch. And that’s the bottom line. It’s a personal choice at the end of the day, though for me, I think in future I’ll stick to solid dials – I mean my old eyesight ain’t going to bet better is it?
Note – All mages on this Post are taken of my own watch, except the exploded view of the modified SeaGull ST movement used in the watch model, shown here to the left, which is copywrite CigaDesign web site.