The Art of Skeletonizing

A thorough review of TWC's skeletonizing work and how it illuminates the disparity in craftsmanship between indy watch brands and mainstream consumer luxury brands. Now enjoy some of the finest horological innovations you have ever seen.

What differentiates an independent watchmaker like TWC from the mainstream consumer luxury watch brands is the attention to detail and handwork applied to the production of its product. This reality creates an endless realm of creative possibilities where TWC can make whatever watch it desires to make. There are no burdens imposed on independents like TWC from the capitalist structure of consumer luxury. There are no retailers requesting split allocation, there is no required quantity, and there doesn't have to be some exact code for the production of each watch. This results in simply the purest form of the craft, in which every wearer of a TWC timepiece can look down at their wrist and think, "not a single other individual has this exact same watch." TWC doesn't make watches for its customers to buy, TWC makes watches for its customers. Handmade horological instruments are an art form that appeal directly to those whom enjoy it as such. In this article, we take a look at some of our finest work, and show you why the mainstream consumer luxury watch brands can't even be put in the conversation with the likes of indy watch brands like TWC in terms of what's possible in handmade craftsmanship.

Our Skeleton collections over the years are a perfect example to explain the varying attention to detail and handwork applied in the production process between indy watch brands like TWC and the mainstream consumer luxury brands. TWC has marked itself as the lead American mechanical watchmaker over the past two decades due to many of the Skeletons you will soon see in this article. The skillset required to create these masterpieces is as rare to find here in the USA as it is to find a lepricon digging for gold at the end of a rainbow. Thats right, it's basically impossible. Thankfully, our founders from Germany happened to not only play large roles in the pioneering of this art form over sees, but brought it along with them once they came to the US. More importantly, their relationships with the few artisans whom share their skillset back in Germany remain strong today, allowing for the scaled production of this kind of work. This is a form of horological craft that just about won't be found anywhere else, except for the few friends of ours back in Europe whom we work with consistently.

"Horology is the science of time, timekeepers and timekeeping. It is also a category of art, as a horological masterpiece is a representation of the creative vision vested in engineering. Talent, creativity and vision produce the artistic identity of a horological instrument. To create something special, mechanical instruments of beauty and precision, was always the dream of TWC’s founders. For the company’s founders, their partnership allowed them to produce horological works of art."

All TWC Skeleton models are produced in very limited numbers, usually ranging between 10-20 with certain gold pieces limited to 5. The limited edition Quarter-Skeleton above is one of our most innovative mechanical sculptures, featuring the rear-end of the movement's plate as the dial. Hand-pressed and turned is an intricate pirlage pattern that has been finished with heat-application, bluing and further processes to produce a green effect. A decorative piece that explores various colors, reflective points and textures. With the ruby jewels, sterling silver outer dial, skeletonized white cathedral hands, dial layering, pirlage and guilloche, the Quarter-Skeleton couldn't do a better job at exactly what it was made to do...keep its wearer in endless awe. Nobody else's opinion matters for you, just yours.

18k Gold Half Skeleton - Limited to 5 - $15,000
Our Skeleton Collection has always featured the same 42mm heritage style round case with the same structural specifications for the most part, with most differences found between the dials, decoration and skeletonized artwork. For all of our collections, consistency in design has been a principle respected by TWC's leaders for the past twenty years and will continue to be forever. Nonetheless, and as already stated, these principles and standards do have some breathing room, and sometimes we just can't help but put elements found in various collections into collaboration with one another. The driver watch seen above is example of one of these past collaborative endeavors, in which we reconditioned the Full-Skeleton dial + movement design into our former "Drivers Series" within our Limited Collection. This limited edition of 50 commemorates an era in which American watchmaking was at the forefront of the industry. This classic design, in which the dial lies off-axis, was originally designed to aid drivers on the road. Our version hits a bit different...still utilitarian nonetheless.

This timepiece is yet another that was produced in collaboration with Jochen Benzinger, the master guilloche artist out of Germany and longtime friend of TWC founder, Hartwig Balke. The outer dial is made of solid sterling silver, with applied black indices atop of the elegant brushed finish. The inner dial is uniquely skeletonized, exhibiting a dynamic layout of hand-guilloche outer-dials that overlap with one another, forming a sense of single-plane sculptural abstraction. The skeletonized dial also features rose gold elements, adding a formal elegance to the timepiece. Last but least, a lone second hand, painted in red, completes the complex aesthetic with a bold statement of contrasting tone. 

At this point in the article, you're probably starting to get a little overwhelmed by these images. We get it, everyone's dream is to have a watch like this. Luckily for you, TWC is here to help you. We offer this at quite an accessible price for what it is. But even with the immense intrinsic value vested in this artwork, you still likely won't be able to afford them. Thus, we might as well boast the 18k gold edition of the "Towson Driver" above. That's right, our clientele loved the Driver so much, that we had to celebrate it with a gold line as usual.
The beauty about a Skeleton watch is that two canvases rest on one piece. When it comes to this kind of horological art, we can all agree that the appreciation of the craft really has nothing to do with time. That's why we emphasis the artistic identity of our instruments to such a large degree. Don't get it wrong, the accuracy and performance of a TWC movement is top tier, guaranteeing a loss/gain of no more than 5 seconds a day, yet the true appeal lies in the sculptural elements of the work. This skillset is applied throughout the piece, and can create an entirely new experience every time you look down at your wrist. There is always something new to explore in a TWC skeleton.
An outstanding Full-Skeleton made back in 2019, with a limited production of five pieces. Each dial piece features masterful hand-guilloche, producing a dynamic, yet intricate visual on the face. A Swiss high-grade 17 jewel manual winding movement was taken apart by TWC watchmakers to skeletonize all the bridges and balance cock, engrave and plate components in white gold. The plate was engine turned and rhodium plated while gold detailing was hand applied. Every TWC Skeleton has a different artwork on the movement, some of which are rose gold plated while others are white gold. The intricacies of each movement detailing also widely vary between pieces, as some feature more spacing while others are tightly packed with decorative elements.
A look at the exhibitionist case back of the limited edition "Full Skeleton" made back in 2019. The 17j high-grade Swiss movement was taken apart and reconstructed by TWC watchmakers to accommodate for the skeletonized interlocking dial pieces. Several of the movement's components were handcrafted in the TWC workshop. A true of horological abstraction. A mechanical painting.

This edition of the Gold Half Skeleton was made back in 2015 in a limited total production run of five. As one of our most prestigious and desired offerings for many years, TWC began making the Half Skeleton in various grades of gold after several customers requested bespoke versions. This particular piece above features a 14k solid rose gold 42mm case. The five units made commercially available were all sold prior to the model's website release. This exact Gold Half Skeleton looks to return in the same quantity at some spontaneous moment in 2022, so be on the lookout.

A Swiss high-grade 17 jewel manual winding movement was taken apart by TWC watchmakers to skeletonize all the bridges and balance cock, engrave and plate components in white gold. The plate was engine turned and rhodium plated while gold detailing was hand applied. Every Half-Skeleton has a different artwork on the movement, some of which are rose gold plated while others are white gold. The intricacies of each movement detailing also widely vary between pieces, as some feature more spacing while others are tightly packed with decorative elements. 

TWC has produced many different variants of the Half Skeleton in different materials and layouts, but will always keep production limited to preserve the collection's horological artistry and exclusivity. The fact of the matter is that our Skeleton's appeal directly to TWC's principle of individualization. There are so many elements to the collection that allow each and every one of its timpieces to function as a unique representation of its wearer. Just like the person, the watch has its own entity that creates a statement no other material item can make. Below, is an example of this intention of ours to offer "new and different" while retaining our successes. Similar to the Quarter Skeleton we discussed earlier in this article, the Half-Skeleton below features a flipped bezel, in which the caseback appears on the front of the watch. Whether you like it or not, it is something only an indy watchmaker like TWC can offer to its clientele. We have no restrictions. We can make whatever we want to make. That is what makes it art.

The back of the Special Edition Half Skeleton "Maryland" --- Decorated in White Gold

Back in 2007, Tiffany and Co. commissioned TWC for a ten piece collection to be sold exclusively at Stauer in New York. Inspired by the original Towson Classic, Tiffany wanted to produce a sterling silver hand guilloche dial using their movement. TWC dials have competed with the best in Switzerland since its foundation, and Tiffany wanted to use an American watch company while retaining the Swiss quality characteristic of their Patek collections. Tiffany movements were sent to TWC, taken apart, skeletonized, decorated and modified in Towson. Once the watches were assembled, they were sent back to Tiffany for final engravings. The collection was sold out within two weeks at Stauer. TWC and Tiffany have collaborated on several bespoke occasions since with more to come in the future. Reputable luxury brands like Tiffany who guarantee a specific level of craftsmanship will always look at TWC as one of the few watchmakers capable of producing whatever they want. An organic collaboration fueled by pure passion, creativity, and love for the craft. Just another differentiating point between indy brands like TWC and its mainstream consumer luxury counterparts.

Base movements provided by Tiffany & Co. , repurposed, assembled and decorated by TWC.
TWC x Tiffany & Co. Bespoke Stauer (One-of-a-Kind)

Jochen Benzinger's drawing conception of the "Towson Driver" prior to its making.
A rare vintage rose-engine in the TWC workshop. Used for dial and movement guilloche. (Engine-turning)
Hartwig preparing his instruments to apply pirlage on the balance plate for a Half Skeleton.
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