What is a Steampunk Skeleton Pocket Watch? The Comprehensive Guide 2021

What is a Steampunk Skeleton Pocket Watch?

A skeleton pocket watch as it`s main feature shows the inner movement that makes it tick through glass or uncovered directly so you can actually touch the mechanism. The word `skeleton` is used because it refers to the open nature of the internal workings showing beneath the outer case like skin on a body and the skeleton underneath.



It is so called a Steampunk skeleton pocket watch as the Steampunk fashion has adopted it as a key aesthetic accessory because of its connection to cogs and gears which represent the industrial revolution of the Victorian era a key admiration of the genres fans. A steampunk skeleton pocket watch may have added subculture motifs such as the locomotive, owl, air ship, octopus among others read more below.

We have already talked about Skeleton Pocket Watches a couple of times in our previous blog entries. It can’t be denied how particularly beautiful this style of watch is. Since its creation, it’s still considered one of the greatest alternative design ideas for a pocket watch. Of course, we are talking about the fantastic idea of crafting a watch that lets the user look at its interior, which is essentially a great concept for a Steampunk item.


How do Steampunk Skeleton Pocket Watches look?

⦁ What do these pocket watches show?


Anything that can be called a ‘Skeleton Pocket Watch’ refers to a pocket watch that has been crafted in a way that its interiors (with that we mean, the inner cogs and gears) can be easily visible by the user and those who surround them. They come in different styles, of course, and we will address them in this article in a couple of moments.


One of the most common Skeleton Pocket Watches have the mechanical movement inside, which needs winding and lacks a battery. The metallic mainspring (made of steel) is essentially the power source that keeps it running after every time you wind it.

⦁ What is the ‘heart beat window’?

The ‘heart beat window’ is what we generally call the area that lets the pocket watch owner to directly look at the inner mechanism of the watch. It’s oftentimes covered with a thin layer of glass.

The heart beat window is usually found in your typical pocket watches, while there’s another term, a ‘skeletonized’ watch, which are usually wrist watches that attempts to follow the same style. Of course, there’s less room to look at the mechanism, but it’s still a pretty look to have on your watch. If you are talking about the case, we also have a full section in a couple paragraphs about the different pocket watch cases that can be skeletonized.


⦁ What type of inner mechanisms do Skeleton Pocket Watches have?

There’s really nothing restricting you here. The inner mechanisms of the watches could have a core of quartz or they could be mechanical with a self-winding mechanism if they have one. The skeleton part of the watch is just a façade, which means that you could pick any type of pocket watch and you will end up finding a version of it as a Skeleton Pocket Watch.


⦁ Why are Roman numerals and bronze commonly used for steampunk Skeleton Pocket Watches?

Skeleton Pocket Watches, as well as other pocket watches that you may already know, have the same number formats that old clocks used to have. As you may probably know, the first clocks and watches had Roman numerals. And it’s pretty common to find old and vintage pocket watches with the Skeleton façade, which is essentially for you to show off. Of course, you can also find Skeleton Pocket Watches with more modernized numbers.

Bronze, on the other hand, was one of the cheapest materials to use as part of the case, in comparison with silver and gold, as you can imagine.

..What sorts of pocket watches can have the ‘Skeleton’ feature?

All pocket watch styles can be skeletonized as shown below make a mental note of your favourite. If you have a hectic lifestyle and busy day to day get the most protected the `double hunter pocket watch` if you want a pocket watch for more special occasions that is more delicate and beautiful get a open face and treat it kindly. Of course, you can also use it as a pendant or as décor (we will cover this below). Here we will show you a picture of each of them! 















⦁ A couple of extras:

How to open a Pocket Watch to admire and explore it`s movement:


Peter von Panda teaches you how to open a general and common Double Cover Pocket Watch with a mechanical movement so you can see inside and admire it`s heart mechanism a technique and skill all Steampunk gents should know so they can see working cogs and gears when they get the impulse.

He uses a very good camera quality for you to look at the interiors of the watch, so you definitely have to see this video.Alternatively, get some old pocket watches from a charity shop or online at Ebay and take them apart to get practice on and just explore. It is what a Steampunk er would do in their spare time indulge in the beauty of cogs and gears and show others. Please be very careful when doing this that you do not damage the pocket watch take your time, be very cautious and use gloves if possible.


Vortic Watch Company has a fantastic Youtube video that teaches how to open the back of a pocket watch. If you go one step further, he does this in order to help people dissemble the pocket watch to convert it into a wrist watch. This is one of the most popular trends surrounding family heirlooms, as a lot of people prefer to keep their watches looking modern enough to wear at their job and not keep the original shape of the watch. Still, you’d have to open it before you convert it into a wrist watch, and that’s a moment that you can use to fully appreciate the craftmanship that it takes to make these beautiful Steampunk items.

⦁ How to wind a Skeleton Pocket Watch with a mechanical interior:

Do you need help while winding your Skeleton Pocket Watch? Pocket Watch Purveyor has got you covered:

⦁ Can my current pocket watch be made into a Skeleton Pocket Watch and where if so?

It’s not really possible to make a non-Skeleton Pocket Watch and turn it into one directly, not at least without expending a huge amount of money on a very specific watch maker. However, it’s more than recommendable to keep your other pocket watches as they are (or maybe exhibit them as décor), save a bit of money and buy a new one with a skeleton look. That’s what most people would recommend as an easy solution.

However, you can still see the process of making a pocket watch from the scratch. And for that, you will need to look at Dean DK’s video, ‘Watchmaking Vlog 1 – Making My First Watch’. It’s a very short vlog and he’s an adorable person. The video is also incredibly well explained. Check it out!


⦁ Pros and cons of Skeleton Pocket Watches


Even if we always say that we would almost always recommend buying a pocket watch, it is true that not every sort of watch is for everyone. That’s why we always try to bring you Pros and Cons lists, so we can help you make the best choice.

Pros of Skeleton Pocket Watches:

⦁ These watches exist to be shown off and make great ornaments when placed on a night table or a pocket watch display. If your attire is Steampunk, you’d surely like wearing one of these either as part of your vest or as a pendant. This way, it can match the colour palette of your outfit very visually.

Cons of Skeleton Pocket Watches:

⦁ The glass is more delicate than a case. It is possible to break the glass if you accidentally drop the pocket watch. Even if you get a double hunter case, you still have to pay a lot of attention when you carry your watch around. It’s very possible that your watch will keep on working, but it’d be sort of pointless to have a Skeleton Pocket Watch with a broken glass, wouldn’t it?

⦁ What’s the origin of the Steampunk Skeleton Pocket Watch?


Skeleton Pocket Watches started becoming popular around the same time of the other pocket watches during the Victorian era, historically speaking. Of course, people from middle-to-low classes only got to access to the typical plain pocket watches, without alternative designs or extra polishing/engraving. Among the alternative designs, Skeleton Pocket Watches that showed off the intrinsic and expensive interiors of the watch were definitely an option, but the owners of these designs had to belong to the higher levels of the status quo. In the upper classes they could be bought and worn for special occasions and made to show off or they could be bought as a heirloom and passed on to the next generation containing gold metals and familly distinct engravings.

⦁ Mentions of Skeleton Pocket Watch in media


The first case that we are going to discuss here is an animated favourite: Alice in Wonderland (1951). The particular scene that we are going to be focusing on is the one in which The Mad Hatter destroys the Rabbit’s pocket watch. Even if it’s not strictly a Skeleton Pocket Watch, you can see the interior movements with way too much detail for a kid’s movie. It’s definitely not something that you should miss, specially when Lewis Carrol (the author of the original book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) put so much effort in describing the pocket watch scenes. Here you have two quotes from the book and the video of the scene from the Disney’s movie:

⦁ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, page 2:

‘There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!” (when she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket or a watch to take out of it, and, burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge’
The second quote, which appears a few pages after:

⦁ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, page 99:

‘The March Hare took the watch and looked at it gloomily: then he dipped it into his cup of tea, and looked at it again: but he could think of nothing better to say than his first remark, “It was the best butter, you know.” Alice had been looking over his shoulder with some curiosity. “What a funny watch!” she remarked. “It tells the day of the month, and doesn’t tell what o’clock it is!” “Why should it?” muttered the Hatter. “Does your watch tell you what year it is?” “Of course not,” Alice replied very readily: “but that’s because it stays the same year for such a long time together.”


Another movie in which you can see the interior of a pocket watch entirely is in Pan’s labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro). We found out that it would be better if you checked this analysis made by TheMrgillibrand, in which the character Vidal fixes his watch in a scene that is made to focus a recurrent aesthetic of the film. Here’s the link:


⦁ Cosplays that suit the Skeleton Pocket Watch the most

DeviantArt’s user versidian posted a photograph called Steampunk XIII. Her character of a powerful Steampunk wizard uses a Skeleton Pocket Watch in a very creative way: the watch is located exactly over her eye, imitating a prothesis incrusted inside a half-mask. It’s a beautiful work of art and a very original way to use the Skeleton Pocket Watch.

Another DeviantArt user, rufflesandsteam, created her Steampunk Portrait with a very typical look of a Steampunk character: an auburn colour palette, beige and white tones, Steampunk aviator goggles and, of course, a Steampunk pocket watch a pendant. It’s a truly gorgeous photograph.

⦁ What is ‘personalizing’ and how to personalize a Steampunk pocket watch with special cases, engraving or photographs?

There are many ways to personalize your pocket watch. We have covered a lot of these in previous articles, but it doesn’t hurt anyone if we dwell into them a little bit more. This time, we will cover engraving, personalized cases, and photographs of your loved ones as options for your pocket watch.

Engraving your Skeleton Pocket Watch

Engraving a family heirloom is also one of the most common ways to personalize a pocket watch. You can always get initials engraved, whether they are yours or the ones of your significant other, or even a family crest/coat of arms if you are lucky enough to track your surname back to the medieval times!

Jewellers are usually the ones that do this sort of job. They are aware that engraving initials is a very common gift for couple anniversaries or wedding gifts, and that’s why they put extra care in this job.

We can recommend a group of jewellers. In this page, H.L.Lang & Co, you can see many examples of hand engraving for watches and other similarly sophisticated items:

⦁ Photographs and Portraits for your Skeleton Pocket Watch:


A very popular choice too, and one of the most common types of pocket watch personalization styles that we see in media, especially in movies and fashion museums. One example would be this lovely lithography of a young Franz Liszt, made during 1830 by Louis Held. The gold pocket watch makes it look strikingly beautiful, not to mention the pose that Liszt decided to go for in this watch. Include a picture of anyone you admire or if they just look beautiful it will add to the beauty of your pocket watch. There are styles of pocket watch this will not work for including the open face pocket watch as there is no cover to place the picture in so bare that in mind.

Also a common addition is a picture of your familly in black and white, gents in Victorian era often travelled far and wide to work with no mobile phones the only reminder they had of their familly was a picture and this conveniently fitted snuggly with in the case of their pocket watch and it became a tradition for pocket watch owners. Naturally this became normal for your pocket watch it showed you loved those closest to you and that you cared. Add your own familly picture to your pocket watch for a Victorian feel.

⦁ What’s the difference between a Skeleton and Mechanical pocket watch?

The ‘Mechanical’ part just refers to the interior movements of many watches, while ‘Skeleton’ pocket watches are just part of the visuals. Like in the first video that we linked here, you can have a Skeleton Pocket Watch with mechanical movements inside, and also any other type of interiors is compatible with these looks.

⦁ How can I use the Skeleton Pocket Watch as décor?


There are many ways to use Skeleton Pocket Watches as décor.

⦁ Display of pocket watch

Like it’s shown in the picture below, you can buy or craft a display to showcase your Skeleton Pocket Watch. This can be put on bookshelves, on your bedroom, on your living room, or even as a centrepiece in a wedding. You can even add more than one watch!


These pocket watch displays are very popular and rather cheap. You won’t need to buy a very expensive one, as your pocket watch will be the focus point of this ornament.


⦁ Canvas print

Do you like art? Canvas prints are an amazing object to decorate your house. Like you can see in the Patent Earth site, you can get a decorative print over a wooden surface that can be framed and hanged on a wall. In the picture above, two diagrams of a pocket watch were being depicted. You may ask for any design you want and the artist will use the mechanism of your favourite watch to draw a technical study of it.

⦁ Metallic poster

If you prefer other sorts of materials, such as metal, you can visit the famous site Displate, which we have mentioned before in our blog. Displate is a site that popularized the concept of ‘metallic posters’ that use magnets to hang the creations on walls. They sell the most amazing designs, and of course, there’s a huge section dedicated to pocket watches. You can simply pick the Skeleton Pocket Watch that you fancy the most. You can also send a picture of your favourite design (even if it’s not featured in the gallery) if you join their Premium Club.


⦁ What if you decorate your body with a Skeleton Pocket Watch?


There’s no doubt that Steampunk tattoos representing clockwork have been a very popular trend for a VERY long time. If you don’t mind a bit of ink on your body, you can absolutely get a big timepiece on your forearm to show everyone your elevated taste in pocket watches:

⦁ What do people say about Skeleton Pocket Watches?

‘I was not sure about buying this watch, the price was quite low for the quality shown in the video, but I did it anyway. This is the first double hunter watch I have. However, the glass window is what does it for me – it’s different enough from the stereotypical watches, but it keeps its style’

So, did you enjoy our article? If you think that your journey around Steampunk pocket watch knowledge just started and you are craving for more, you can visit our other articles:

What is a Steampunk Mechanical Pocket Watches?

What is a Steampunk Wrist Watch?

What is a Steampunk pocket watch? 

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