As your watch collection grows bigger, it can sometimes be challenging to find new timepieces that will stand out from the rest. A skeleton watch is a great way to step-up your watch collection to a whole new level. The problem most collectors encounter when shopping for a skeleton watch is the hefty price to pay.
The most well-known models come from very exclusive manufacturers such as Blancpain or Chronoswiss, and are often accompanied by a 5 figure price tag. This doesn’t mean you can’t get a nice skeleton watch for a reasonable price, you only need to know where to look. This article will guide you through your quest to find the best skeleton watch under 300$.
Bulova watches have a rich history, from their origins as a U.S watchmaker, to the present day, where they are now owned by the japanese company Citizen. The 96A187 skeleton watch shows how far Bulova has progressed, and how all these years helped them perfect the art of watchmaking. This elegant timepiece mixes stunning looks, with good functionality and quality at a very reasonable price.
The polished stainless steel case is completed by a lovely dial. The deep blue hands and numerals go beautifully with the light grey background. The real show stopper is the center, which lets you see through the automatic mechanical movement.
The dimensions of the 96A187 are pretty standard and will fit the majority of men; 43mm case diameter, 12mm thickness and 22mm band width.The mineral glass that covers the dial is also expected from watches in this price range, and it will withstand most scratches. The 100m waterproofing is a nice addition for a skeleton watch, as you will be able to swim or shower with it.
You can get the 96A187 for about 200-250$ depending on the store you’re looking at, and the deals that are currently offered.
The Fossil ME3099 strongly resembles the Bulova 96a187, but it is much cheaper, at around 110$. You get the same layout; roman numerals on the outer ring of the dial, with a nice skeleton view at the center.
This model is a bit less colorful, and will appeal to a conservative crowd. As many models on this list, the ME3099 features an automatic movement, a mineral glass and a stationary bezel.
The small price comes with a couple of inconveniences, such as the calfskin leather band, which is beautiful at first, but quickly gets worn-out. We suggest using the money you save from the low price to buy a nice leather or nato strap.
Another downside of the low price is the lack of functions. The dial is very basic, only displaying the time, nothing else, not even the date. This is surely more of an aesthetic timepiece than a functional one.
The ME3099 gives off an old-school vibe, and vintage watch collectors will be pleased to add this model to their collection. The neutral color palette, the roman numerals and the mechanical caliber all contribute to pay homage to classic watchmaking.
Invicta 1088 Diver
Invicta often gets a bad rap because they are known to prioritize quantity over quality, offering hundreds of different models. I think the 1088 diver watch is the exception to Invicta’s rule. This model is very affordable for a skeleton watch, and it is extremely beautiful.
At around 110$, the 1088 is very cheap for the features it offers. It comes with a mechanical hand-wound caliber, which is very rare for a timepiece in this price range.Also, this model is equipped with a flame fusion crystal, which is a fancy word for synthetic sapphire.
Sapphire crystals are often used on much more expensive examples, and they are technically the most scratch-resistant glass out there. Moreover, the 1088 offers a 50m water resistance, which will be plenty for recreational swimming.
An important fact to note about the Invicta 1088 is that it is a really large watch. We do not recommend buying this model unless you have large wrists. Indeed, the case measures a bulky 51.5mm. The band width is 26mm, so it definitely isn’t a watch for people with small wrists. The case is also quite thick at 16mm, but this is to be expected from a piece with a mechanical movement, sapphire glass and see-through dial.
The Invicta 1088 has been released in 2014, so you will not be able to buy it directly from Invicta’s website.
Stuhrling Original Anatol 371
While Stuhrling has a lot to prove as a watchmaker, the Anatol 371 model made a name for itself in the world of watch enthusiasts. The Anatol line comes in different colorful options that range in prices from 225$ to 350$, with a special gold edition going for 1195$.
The 371 is fitted with an automatic movement, a dual time-zone display and two Krysterna crystal ; one in the front, one in the back. The Krysterna crystal is Stuhrling’s in-house crystal brand, which is a hybrid between sapphire and mineral glass.
This offers the best of both world as you get a crystal more shatter-resistant than sapphire and more scratch-resistant than mineral, for a reasonable price.
This watch also has a bulky build, with a 46mm case diameter and a 15mm thickness. The piece isn’t as imposing as the previously stated Invicta 1088, but I can’t recommend buying the Anatol 371 if your wrist is on the smaller side of the spectrum. The 22mm band width is quite common so you won’t have any problem replacing the strap if you want to.
With the Stuhrling Anatol 371, you can either choose a leather strap that replicates alligator skin, or a stainless steel bracelet on more expensive models. The leather band is of really good quality, and we think you can use it for a long time without needing to change it. We haven’t tested the stainless steel bracelet so we can’t pronounce ourselves on it.
Bulova Accutron Spaceview
Not everyone likes buying brand new watches. Often, pre-owned watches can offer a very reliable product for a small cost. Moreover, pre-owned timepieces offer the chance to keep a part of history on your person at all time.
As mentioned earlier, Bulova has a very rich past, and the Accutron line is the pillar of their history. The company changed the watchmaking world in 1960 by introducing what they would call ‘’the first electronic watch’’ branded as Accutron.
Ever since, the Accutron family has been a watch collector’s favorite, not only for it’s part in history, but also for the reliability and accuracy that comes from these models. The Bulova Accutron Spaceview brings together the tradition of Bulova’s electronic movement with the quirkiness of a skeleton watch. Over the years, Bulova released over 200 variants of the Accutron model. Some are still very expensive to this day, while others can be bought for a sensible price.
It can be hard to find an Accutron Spaceview for under 300$, but if you do your research and look through a few eBay pages, you can get a very decent example for 250-300$. For people with a bit more budget, you can find several collector Spaceview models worth up to 5 000$, which will predictably increase in value over time.
Let us know if there's any watches you would've liked to see on this list!