You want a watch with exposed gears.
This kind of watch, sometimes called a “Skeleton Watch,” is great. Gear visibility has a sophisticated aura and a hint of antiquity and masculinity.
Or maybe it’s because you can see the exact mechanics behind the device as it keeps time.
But where do you start?
The following guide will walk you through exactly what to search for in an exposed gear watch and then point you towards some quality watches.
Don’t want to read the whole article? Check out my top pick, the Fossil Modern Machine Watch, on Amazon by clicking here.
My top choices – Men’s Skeleton Watch with Exposed Gears
Best Overall Pick: Fossil Modern Machine Sport Watch
You can’t go wrong with a Fossil skeleton watch like the Modern Machine Sport.
The American-based company has a reputation for making high quality watches that look extremely fashionable.
The Modern Machine Sport is no different. The brown strap and powder blue barrel accents fit together perfectly, from a style perspective.
It’s a perfect size and weight at 4.17 ounces. Not too heavy, but not too light.
- Mechanical watch
- Automatic self-wind movement
- Water resistant to 165 feet (50m)
- 2 year warranty for internal parts
- Brown leather strap with the powder blue frame looks great
- Water resistant to 165 feet, but only recommended for light water use.
- No batteries necessary because of the automatic self wind-movement.
Some buyers may not like the automatic self-wind movement.
This kind of movement requires you to twist the face about 20-30 times to power the watch.
The movement from your wrist will then keep the watch powered. However, this often results in the watch stopping if you sit still for too long.
You can’t go wrong with Fossil as a brand for highly fashionable watches, and the ME3135 is their best offering for an exposed gear watch.
You can see those gears and you’ll have a very fashionable watch that’s a great piece of jewelry.
Best Sports Skeleton Watch: Invicta Men’s 1088 Russian Diver
Invicta Men's Russian Diver Stainless Steel and Black Polyurethane Mechanical Watch, Black (Model: 1088)
Everything about this watch is just bigger. This ranges from the 51.5mm frame to the screw-down cap to the polyurethane strap.
Speaking of the oversized screw-down cap, that cap covers the pin that you spin to wind the watch up.
The black polyurethane strap and silver bezel on the Russian Diver go together well and just add to the masculinity of this watch. Also, you can easily match it with most colors because black is fairly neutral.
Now, I would not recommend this watch while wearing a suit and tie, though some men might be able to pull it off. This watch would look great in more casual settings, such as when you’re wearing jeans or shorts.
- Durable polyurethane strap
- Massive 51.5mm case
- Water resistant to 165 feet (50 meters)
- Mechanical hand wind movement
- Durable and easily adjustable polyurethane strap
- Fashionable primarily black color with silver accents
- Accurate for this price point. Approximately +5 seconds per day
- 51.5mm case is big for those under 5’10” or with small wrists
- It weighs 8.8 ounces, which might be uncomfortable for if you have a smaller frame
- Not an actual dive watch
All in all, the Invicta 1088 Russian Diver makes a great choice for a more masculine watch.
I won’t lie though, this watch is big and it’s heavy.
If you like big sport watches with exposed gears, then this is the best choice for you.
Other than the size, the mechanical hand wind movement is nice and the watch does a good job staying accurate.Invicta Men's Russian Diver Stainless Steel and Black Polyurethane Mechanical Watch, Black (Model: 1088)
Best Skeleton Watch for Formal Occasions: Stuhrling Original Men’s Executive
A great skeleton watch for more formal settings, Stuhrling Original Mens Automatic Watch Skeleton Watches for Men - Black Leather Watch Strap Mechanical Watch Silver Executive Watch Collection (Black)
I love the partially exposed gears compared to the 100% exposed gears of the other watches. This makes it look like you’re peeking into the gears that turn the watch.
Now, the movement on this one is nice too. It has an automatic and a self-winding movement, which means it winds up from the motion of your wrist (automatic). You also set it at the beginning of the day by manually winding it up yourself.
This has the most fashionable strap of any of the watches reviewed. Black leather paired with the silver trim of the watch gives it a professional and executive look.
- 44mm case
- Automatic self-winding movement
- Exposed case back to see the gears underneath
- Looks very fashionable with black leather and silver trim
- 2.52 ounces is a nice and lightweight
- Partially exposed gears look very good
- Ticks loudly
- Made in China, but assembled in Switzerland
The bottom line, the Stuhrling Executive makes a great addition to your formal attire. The Executive turns heads with its black strap, silver colored accents, and partially exposed gears.
Loud ticking might be an issue at night, but in my experience putting a loudly ticking watch in the closet under some clothes works great.You can pick up one of these bad boys for yourself on Amazon here.
Best Unique Design: Stuhrling Original Skeleton Dress
Looking for a watch different than the usual?
I bet you are, and the Stuhrling Original Skeleton Dress is the perfect watch for you. It has a very unique design with a silver-plated case and blue hands. It’s also available in other interesting styles, as well.
You’re sure to get compliments and everyone will notice the blue hands on it as well.
They just “pop.”
This has partially exposed gears, similar to the Stuhlring 133.33151 above. However, these gears are even more covered. In fact, only a handful of gears are visible.
Enticing to the viewer, to say the least.
- Unique color scheme that screams stylish
- Partially exposed gears
- Display 2 time zones at the same time
- 42mm case
- Automatic self-winding movement
- Alligator embossed black calfskin strap
- Color scheme sure to draw compliments
- Can be worn formally for a hint of personality or as a casual watch
- Different metal colors to choose from
The only negative I can think of with this watch is the automatic self-winding movement. This comes down to personal preference though.
Some people love it and some people hate it.
Remember how I mentioned to avoid a gold watch?
Exceptions exist for every rule and the Stuhlring Original Skeleton Dress is one of those exceptions. The blue hands and gold color go great together.
This watch really does “pop” when you wear it and it will get compliments. Not to mention the partially exposed gears and alligator embossed black calfskin strap look great too.Check out the best price on Amazon here to get one for yourself.
Best Silicon Strap Skeleton Watch: Kenneth Cole New York Silicone Dress Watch
Looking for something a little different?
This watch from the Kenneth Cole New York line has a nice minimalist design, while retaining the exposed gear motif. The blue silicone strap, combined with the black 44mm case, gives it a nice look for more casual events.
The yellow second hand also nicely compliments the dark features of the watch.
It has the standard automatic self-winding motion found in the other watches. Fully exposed gears on this watch allow you to see every single detail of the watch as it operates.
- Perfect size 44mm case
- Automatic self-winding movement
- Blue silicone strap
- Silicon strap looks great and is very durable
- Yellow second hand adds some personality
- Excellent price for good quality
The only cons with this watch are the automatic self-winding movement, which could be a pro depending on who you ask.
The other is the Chinese movement, which isn’t necessarily bad. At the sub-$100 price point offered, this type of watch movement is pretty standard.
This watch looks great for casual occasions. The silicone strap really gives a nice sporty look.
However, you can still easily wear this watch for more formal occasions like work, but you should probably avoid wearing it with a suit.
To me, this is a watch that will turn heads and start conversations.You can check out this watch on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Budget Choice: Sweetbless Men’s Classic Wristwatch
Looking for an affordable skeleton watch with exposed gears?This Sweetbless Men's Classic Wristwatch is the watch for you.
Despite the low price, the watch looks good. It has a steampunk design to it. This makes it a great gift for a younger person such as a highschool student or a college undergraduate.
It has a standard 44mm case combined and fully exposed. I really like the Roman numerals. It just is not something that I see that often on watches. I like to call it the Big Ben clock face.
- Stainless steel band
- 44mm case
- Roman numerals on the clock face.
- The “Big Ben” clock face.
- Excellent price point
- Good “steampunk”-style design
- No battery required
Handwind mechanical movement. No automatic movement.
This watch has the best price of all the watches I’ve listed here. However, you still get a decent casual design and a fairly accurate watch with it too.
If you want a budget friendly watch with exposed gears, this is the watch for you.You can check out the best price for this watch on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Pocket Skeleton Watch: Stuhrling Original Vintage Pocket Watch
What list of watches would be complete without a pocket watch?
Not this one.
Nothing says “old school cool” like a pocket watch. A great one pairs nicely with a well-tailored suit or jacket.
The best part?
When you use one, and not a smartphone, to check the time you will get compliments. I guarantee it. You’ll be on another level.
The Stuhrling Vintage pocket watch is a great entry level pocket watch. The steel frame combined with the white face gives a sophisticated look to the watch.
Roman numerals are used for the numbers on the watch, which adds to the sophisticated look. Not to mention that this watch almost entirely exposed gears on the face.
- Desk stand allows you to use this as a table watch
- Mechanical hand wind movement
- 48mm case
- It’s a pocket watch, which makes it unique
- Desk stand for use as a table watch
- White face with stainless steel frame looks great
- Keeps good time
- Pouch not included
- No automatic movement
Pocket watches are just plain cool.
You can’t really argue against that. The Stuhlring Vintage definitely lives up to the reputation and looks great on top of that.
The face is a little big at 48mm, but that is actually desirable for a pocket watch.
No automatic movement is a little bit of a downside, but not too bad. Just make sure to wind the watch up at the beginning of the day.Check it out on Amazon for the best price and more info.
The top 3 things to look for in a watch
For many, a skeleton watch might seem like an antiquated thing.
We’ve got cell phones, right?
It’s not just about knowing what time it is – it’s about classic style and having a great piece of jewelry that’s both masculine and functional.
That’s why you wear a watch. Now let’s figure out how to choose a great one.
#1 – Most important – quality
Look, the easiest way to determine quality is by the brand.
Everyone knows that Rolex makes high quality (and expensive) watches. Everyone also knows that a $9 no-name watch bought at Wal-Mart will do everything but keep good time.
However, there are plenty of great mid-level brands, such as Fossil, Invicta, and Stuhlring, that are right in most men’s comfort zones for watch buying.
All three of those brands make excellent watches at an affordable price. They use high quality parts and the watches will keep track of time with the best of them.
Our list will focus on the best skeleton watch brands like that.
#2 – Still important – the warranty
When something goes wrong with our watch we want to pay as little as possible to fix it.
You’ve paid enough just buying it!
Good news – a good warranty is not limited to Rolex-tier watches. The mid-level brands I listed earlier all stand by their products for manufacturer defects.
Usually, this is a 1 to 5-year warranty against any defect caused by the manufacturer. Some even offer free tuning, if the watch somehow gets off time.
On the other hand, manufacturers will not provide much support if you negligently destroy your watch.
I can’t say I blame them – take care of the darn thing!
#3 – Least important (but still pretty important) – How does it look?
Let me take a wild guess – most of you looking for a men’s watch are doing it for the fashion benefits.
I thought so.
I wear a watch for style purposes, too. As I said before, smartphones work just fine for keeping track of time, but not for looking stylish.
You probably want a watch that compliments your outfit and can be worn at work, home, and around town.
In that case, a black or brown leather strap is the absolute best choice. Avoid offbeat colors such as yellow, red, or green. A few people can pull it off, but most cannot.
It’s not worth the risk, in my opinion.
Now, metal bracelet watches (the proper term) look much sportier than their leather counterpart. Most men can wear metal bracelet watches with a more dressed-up outfit and still look great.
However, these watches look best while worn outside the office. Preferably while doing sporty activities such as diving, fishing, or riding a motorcycle.
If you do purchase a metal bracelet watch, then you want a silver color metal bracelet. Gold just does not look fashionable anymore, with some exceptions (listed below).
Many great watches with exposed gears are available at just about any budget. The ones I’ve listed above are just a small sample of affordable, quality, and stylish watches with exposed gears.
My personal favorites are the Fossil M3135 due to its overall great style, and the Stuhlring Original with the blue hands for its unique and memorable look. However, all the watches listed above are great watches.
Have any watches you want me to review? Post a comment and let me know.