There isn’t too much flourish to the Tissot Squelette, but there’s enough. This is a watch that gets noticed.
The Watch Snob once infuriatingly declared, “There is no watch between $1,000 and $3,000 that is worth buying.” The rest of us at AskMen disagree. In fact, this is precisely the range that most of us are looking in when shopping for our first watch that matters.
What’s a watch that matters? It’s a watch that you spend a lot of time researching and saving up for before buying. It’s a watch that you’re proud to have others notice and ask you about. It’s a watch that matters to you… not to the Watch Snob.
For those in the market for their first watch that matters, we’ll be presenting a new candidate each month. November’s is the Tissot Squelette, a true “gateway” watch for the man who’s curious about what’s happening on the inside of what’s on his wrist.
A skeleton watch shows off its “skeleton”: all the parts that make it work can be seen through the front of the watch, thanks to the removal of non-essential parts and surfaces. Oftentimes, skeleton watches are such exhibitionists because the parts they are flaunting are unique, highly finished ones — which makes a lot of these watches quite expensive.
That’s a shame because, considered as an educational tool, these watches are built for beginners. When you peer down at a skeleton watch’s second hand, you can see the movement underneath it that keeps it clicking along, visually connect that to the movement driving the minutes hand, visually connect that to the movement driving the hours hand... and finally start wrapping your head around the whole operation.
With the arrival of the Tissot Squelette earlier this fall, this education became more affordable. The tutorial that the Squelette offers is basic — this watch only tells the time, not the date or the phase of the moon — but you can buy it new for less than $2,200. That’s a remarkable price for a truly special-looking watch from an established Swiss brand.
How did Tissot pull off the pricing? In strapping the Squelette on and winding it up, you can see and feel where they scrimped. The clasp is a bit flimsy. The crown is a bit clunky. The movement — all those gears and wheels you can peer directly into — is a stock one, which means it is far from original. In fact, you’ll find variations of the same movement in hundreds of other watches, including models made by Hamilton, Invicta and Panerai. But the use of a stock movement is entirely normal in this price range, and the one that the Squelette uses, labeled by the industry as the ETA 6497, is solid. When I asked watch journalist Jason Heaton what he thought of it, he told me, “I`ve always liked the ETA 6497 movement because it`s such a fundamental movement that strips everything away except the basics — a handwound caliber with no date. It`s really the essence of timekeeping — a time-only pocketwatch moved to the wrist. The cool thing about the Squelette is that by displaying it in an skeletonized manner, you really get a sense of the mechanics of a watch without too much flourish to get in the way.”
There isn’t too much flourish to the Tissot Squelette, but there’s enough. This is a watch that gets noticed. Blue hands and the occasional flash of pink on the dial provide a contrast to its brushed-steel case, and give the light something to play off. Furthermore, the Squelette is big: 43 millimeters across, and 12 millimeters thick. That’s too much watch for a twiggy wrist like mine; I look foolish wearing the Squelette. But my colleague Guillaume wore it well on his manlier wrists, and seemed to develop quite an affection for it over the few minutes that he did. He was quite right to — despite its less-than-robust construction, the Squelette has an instant impact on those who wear it and those who look at it. If you have the requisite confidence (and build) to pull it off, this is a worthy candidate for your first watch that matters.
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- There isn’t too much flourish to the Tissot Squelette, but there’s enough. This is a watch that gets noticed.
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