Past your mid-teens, skull motifs tend to lose their edge. Once you’ve swapped out your My Chemical Romance albums for James Morrison’s Greatest Hits, studding your outfit with skulls just screams Peter Pan syndrome gone emo. That doesn’t mean the macabre sigil has become completely unwearable — subtlety is key, and few things are more stylishly subtle than details on a luxury watch.
From understated skeletal embellishments to meticulously crafted timepieces that act as a reminder of mortality, skull watches are an intriguing accessory that can make nostalgia sexy again. To get you started, we present our favourite luxury skull watches.
As the latest addition to the famed Bell & Ross BR01 skull range, the Burning Skull is the most aesthetically intricate of the trio. Akin to its predecessors, the Burning Skull features a Jolly Rancher talisman housed in a square case. The skull was the symbol of American parachutists during WWII, this time embossed on the watch face for a more dynamic look. Dagger and sword watch hands complete the militant vibe of the watch. Bell & Ross also pulls inspiration from the world of tribal tattooing — the entirety of the watch’s case and back is engraved by hand with tattoo designs, marking this as a truly provocative timepiece. It is limited to 500 pieces worldwide.
Fiona Krüger’s version of the skull watch doubles up as an artistic statement on time and mortality. Inspired by Mary, Queen of Scots’ skull watch, as well as the intricate sugar skulls of Día de Los Muertos, Krüger’s Petit Skull timepieces are extremely exclusive — each watch is completed with a hand-crafted leather strap, and is limited to 18 pieces worldwide. Completely handmade in Switzerland, the watches are fully skeletonised with a customised guilloché oscillating mass, and powered by a mechanical automatic TechnoTime movement.
Instead of taking the ostentatious route and letting the skull head take centre stage, Hublot’s Classic Fusion Tourbillon Skull lets the body do the talking. The skeletonised movement is accented with tourbillon bridges moulded to look like human bones, and a skull-shaped barret, all appearing three-dimensional thanks to an intricate laser process. The 45mm ceramized aluminium case is given added edge with a weathered, microblasted bezel, and finished with a black rubberised strap bearing alligator skin details. Hublot’s rendition of the skull watch is rock n’roll gone luxury, and we dig it.
It’s been four years since HYT burst into the luxury watches, and the boutique watch label has since made skull watches cool again. It isn’t just the badassery that the Iron Man-esque skull face with hand-engraved Maori tattoo-inspired ornamentation emanates, or it’s daunting 51mm case size. The watch utilises liquid to tell time. Red liquid circumnavigates the watch face through a capillary, notifying the wearer of time by the hour. It makes for an incredibly challenging bit of watchmaking technology, given factors of pressure and consistency. The end result is worth the development stress — the HYT Skull Maori is a stunningly unique, masculine watch. Just don’t blame it for being late to your meetings.
Launched in 2012, the RM 052 Tourbillon Skull is a jaw-dropping horological statement with its US$500,000 price tag. Richard Mille’s signature, steampunk pillow-shaped case houses a skull baseplate that is constructed from grade 5 titanium — a material commonly used in aerospace, aeronautical and automobile constructuon . The skull isn’t just a pretty focal point, but fully integrated into the watch’s movement. The upper and lower jaws hold the ruby of the tourbillon cage, the four bridges are arranged in a skull-and-crossbones manner, where the back of the skull forms the bridge’s centre. Limited to 21 pieces, the RM 052 is a sleek skull watch for true purveyors of luxury watches.