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5 Affordable Skeleton Watches We Love (for under $500)

By Cameron Martel


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Who Doesn’t Love a Skeleton Dial?

When I reviewed the Irony “Body & Soul”, I commented that every watchperson goes through a skeleton phase. It’s true- there’s just something about that exposed movement that gives a skeleton watch that, je ne sais quoi. In my case, I’m through the skeleton phase… but I still have a few open-heart dials in my collection.

Over the years I’ve reviewed a few skeletons hands-on – the Irony I linked above, and the Tissot Squelette (which I’m still in love with. I’ve also shot the Tissot Chemin Des Tourelles Squelette for my passion project, WristWatch.Photography. There are lots of other affordable skeletons out there that I’d like to get my mitts on, though.

So, with that in mind, let’s have a look at five skeleton and open-heart watches worth wearing.

Swatch Irony "Body & Soul" YAS100G

Swatch Irony “Body & Soul” YAS100G

The YAS100G is a blinged-out, branded Swatch-watch (say that five times fast) that lets the ETA automatic do most of the talking. The steel bracelet is on the cheap side, but considering the sub-$175 street price, that’s forgivable.

  • Movement: Automatic, ETA 2841
  • Water Resistance: 30m / 99ft
  • Model Number: YAS100G
  • MSRP: $195
  • Size: 37mm
  • Crystal Material: Mineral


Something to note: if it ever needs a service you’ll need to ship the YAS100G off to a Swatch service center. Your local watchmaker won’t be able to crack open the case to get the job done. Another thing to note: the ETA 2841 automatic does use some plasticy bits, though my experience with the YAS100G since I acquired mine in September 2017 has been positive.

Sized at 37mm, this isn’t meant for big wrists. It’s meant for little wrists (like mine, which is where it lives fairly often).

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Orient Golden Eyes 2

Orient makes mechanical watches for genuine watchpeople. You don’t need to be a watchmaker to appreciate an Orient, but it feels good to know that a lot of watchmakers do.

  • Movement: Automatic, Orient F6T22
  • Water Resistance: 30m / 99ft
  • Model Number: AG03001D
  • MSRP: $500ish
  • Size: 38.5mm
  • Crystal Material: Sapphire

This particular model – the Golden Eyes 2 – is as real gem. While I haven’t reviewed it hands-on, I very much am anxiously awaiting my opportunity to do so. Why? Because it’s got a house-made caliber F6T22 automatic movement. Orient’s movements have a reputation for being robust and reliable. This movement powers numerous Orient models, comes spring-loaded with a 40-hour power reserve, and looks quite good through the blue dial of the Golden Eyes 2.

The F6T22 also hacks, hands-winds, and beats at 21,600 bph. For the purists out there, feel good: the F6T22 is made in Japan.

This version of the Golden Eyes 2 comes with a stainless-steel bracelet and deployant clasp and sapphire glass. You’ll find this one pop-up on Amazon every now and again for around $350. If you see it at that price, buy it.

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Bulova 97A121

Bulova 97A121

This inexpensive automatic from Bulova is a real gem. Aside from being gorgeous (seriously, look at it), it’s also well-sized and sporting a decent movement in the Miyota 82S7. Bulova has actually got a few versions of this design, so if all-gold isn’t your thing, there are also steel, rose gold, and brown versions available. The leather strap is pretty good quality, and it comes with a gilded deployant clasp.

  • Movement: Automatic, Miyota 82S7
  • Water Resistance: 30m / 99ft
  • Model Number: 97A121
  • MSRP: $450ish
  • Size: 41mm
  • Crystal Material: Mineral


The MSRP is just under $500, but it’s found on Amazon for around $280- a good buy at that price.

When I reviewed the 97A121, I was so impressed with it that I wound up buying the matching rose gold version and giving the 97A121 to a good friend of mine for his wedding. He loved it (of course), and you will too.

The Miyota 82S7 movement isn’t the most accurate out there (standard deviation is anywhere from -20 to +40 seconds per day), but I wouldn’t let that detract from it. It’s got a 42-hour power reserve, beats at 21,600 bph, and hand-winds… but it doesn’t hack. Still, a decent movement that separates this inexpensive dress watch from its quartz-powered competition.

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Zeppelin Flatline 7364-3 Automatic

Here’s something a bit different: a German watch brand with an open-heart dial and gorgeous good looks. I have plenty of hands-on experience with Graf Zeppelin watches, namely in the dual-time I reviewed a while back. The build quality of the dual-time is quite good, and I have no reason to believe the Flatline would be any different. The flatline sells for around $350 on Amazon.

  • Movement: Automatic, Miyota 82S5
  • Water Resistance: 50m / 165ft
  • Model Number: 7364-3
  • MSRP: $450ish
  • Size: 40mm
  • Crystal Material: Mineral

This 40mm dress watch is powered by a Miyota 82S5 automatic movement. The 82S5 is down somewhat on features compared to the 82S7 discussed above: it retains a 42-hour power reserve, but loses hacking and the 24-hour indicator. Still, a mass-market movement that is plenty reliable and well documented. Not a bad way to go.

I really enjoy the Flatline’s style, and at 40mm, it’s an ideal size for just about anyone. If you want a watch that’s a bit different compared to the usual, the Flatline is an excellent choice.

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Bulova Accutron II Alpha 98A136

Bulova Accutron II Alpha

What’s this- a second Bulova? Hell yes. The Accutron ii Alpha also happens to be the only quartz-powered watch on this list. But, it’s here for good reason: it’s gorgeous, and the movement kicks ass.

  • Movement: Quartz, BA101.10 Precisionist
  • Water Resistance: 30m / 99ft
  • Model Number: 98A136
  • MSRP: $450ish
  • Size: 42mm
  • Crystal Material: Mineral

Bulova Accutron II Alpha

There are several varieties of the Accutron ii Alpha available, including dressier steel on leather and gold on leather versions. All versions showcase the Bulova BA101.10 Precisionist movement in all its battery-powered glory… and it is glorious.

The Accutron ii Alpha is sized at 42mm, though its case shape is unique in that it’s a shield as opposed to a circle. It’s an interesting look that sets it apart, but that’s not all: the movement, which is accurate to within 10 seconds per month, is a real gem. I loved mine so much that I bought a second one (the steel and leather 96A155).

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About Cameron Martel

If it ticks or tocks, I want it on my wrist. I'm a fan of all things that keep good time, and I can't resist a great looking watch. WYCA is my way of appreciating the engineering and artistry that goes into affordable watches. My favorite watch is my Jazzmaster Auto Chrono, and the watch I wear the most is my Weekender Chronograph. I currently have 33 watches in my collection. Learn more about WYCA's Editorial Process.

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