Watches: Best Skull Watches of 2013

By Thierry Ané on November 29, 2013

When you write about watches on the web, it is very easy to select the novelties you will present: you just have to browse through the press releases and choose the watches you like. These are the models you will review. And obviously, you will forget those you don’t appreciate to keep the writing fun. But what can you do when you want to discuss a model that has been released a few months ago? It is not old per se, but that is not entirely new either. How can you make it worthy of a web article?

Well, the best solution is to create a selection devoted to a theme in which you will obviously include the watch you are so eager to present. This is often the trigger for a “best-of” like the ones I release from time to time. And, if it is difficult to find a suitable theme, you just stretch it a little to reach your goal…. Well, this is what I am going to do today!

Is it just me or skull designs have become commonplace in watchmaking? Off the top of my head, I can quote the Bell & Ross 01 Airborne II, the Perrelet Turbine XL Toxic, the Hublot Classic Fusion skull Bang, the Artya Son of a Gun Dancing Skulls or the Romain Jérôme Art DNA that have been introduced over the past few years. The list is absolutely not exhaustive and seems to indicate that the Jolly Roger, human skulls, and other Memento Mori have become a niche in watch design.

Let me thus present the very short list of this year’s skull watches that I can’t get out of my head.

Romain Jérôme Día de los Muertos Diamante Black PVD Steel

The “Día de los Muertos” collection is not exactly new. The brand actually launched this model last year in honour of the most important Mexican holiday. This year, however, the brand introduced five stone-encrusted models with different dials and cases. The all-black version presented here is my absolute favourite. The skull appliqué adorning the black dial is entirely set with black spinels and white diamonds for the eyes and teeth. Fitted with a nice black hornback alligator, the 46 mm steel case is coated with black PVD and set in spiral with black sapphires. The watch is really beautiful and not over-the-top due to the black-on-black look. Since it is not overpriced, this could represent the out-of-the-ordinary piece in a collection. All the more so that with only 25 pieces the watch is quite exclusive.

Find out more about the RJ-Romain Jerome Día de los Muertos Diamante Black PVD Steel

Richard Mille RM 052-01 Tourbillon Skull Black TZP Ceramic and Carbon Nanotubes

This model follows in the footsteps of the RM 052 Tourbillon Skull Titanium presented last year. The case of the new version is no longer in titanium: the brand used black TZP ceramic and carbon nanotubes for the first time to create this tonneau-shaped case. Moreover the titanium skull that produced a monochrome effect on last year’s version has now been replaced by a red gold skull that contrasts strongly with the black of the case and draws even more attention. What is amazing about this watch though is that the skull is not just a design element: it is integrated to the movement. For collectors, only a limited edition of 30 pieces will be available for sale.

Find out more about the Richard Mille RM 052-01 Tourbillon Skull Black TZP Ceramic and Carbon Nanotubes

Sarpaneva Woodoo Diamonds Black DLC Steel

And here we are to the timepiece I really wanted to discuss today. It is not a “skull watch” stricto sensu but I told you that I would stretch the theme to suit my speech. This timepiece is an ode to the wickedness of the moon. On my article on the Most Poetic Moon Phase Models of 2013Watches: Most Poetic Moon Phase Models of 2013 I already discussed another beautiful timepiece made by Stepan Sarpaneva. The representation of the moon is his trademark and he likes to emphasise the moody and mystical side of the Earth’s only natural satellite. With the Woodoo watch the moon definitely shows its dark side. The devilish moon, crafted in silver, hides behind a skull mask entirely set with brilliant-cut diamonds. From the dark of the dial, the moon’s ruby eyes stare right at you and bring back all the folklore and mystical stories related to this celestial body. No hands to spoil the disturbing beauty of this dial: the watch features a skeletonized hour wheel and a moon phase wheel. The watch is not fitted with your usual alligator strap: the black strap is made of frog skin. Unusual and troubling like the moon! Unfortunately this magnificent creation is a unique piece… I would really love to have it in my collection…

Find out more about the Sarpaneva Woodoo Diamonds Black DLC Steel

Not all the timepieces in a collection have to be serious. It is nice from time to time to wear something different, more decorative. With the watches reviewed above, thrills of pleasure and excitement are guaranteed every time you wear them. Emotion: isn’t that all what horology should be about?