What is a Steampunk wrist watch? The Comprehensive Guide 2021

What is a Steampunk wrist watch?

⦁ What is a Steampunk wrist watch?


A Steampunk wrist watch is essentially your typical wrist watch but adapted to the Steampunk aesthetic. The watch is commonly mechanical and with a skeleton watch face so the beautiful mechanical movement can be seen within. The cogs and gears are bigger than normal and accentuated with ornate metal working to give them flare. Steampunk motifs of the niche subcultures like the octopus, locomotive or cogs and gears can optionally be shown on the watch face or casing. 

The mechanical movement is Victorian age technology created in the time of the industrial revolution in the form firstly of a pocket watch, it did not require a battery to work instead could be just wound up. Obviously the technology has progressed to a modern day wrist watch that charges itself  but that was its origin. Wrist watches now can automatically recharge them selves if you decide to choose that function which is not as Steampunk as manually.   





This is where mechanical movements get that connection to Steampunk as the aesthetic is based in the Victorian era industrial and technological revolution the origins of Steampunk as a whole. Skeleton watch faces were used around this time to show of the newly created technology of a mechanical watch movement inside as we all know what magnificent things they are as they did back then, see picture below.

Steampunk fans have a healthy obsession with cogs and gears that comes from admiring the industrial revolution and that is where the skeleton wrist watch gets its fan base from the movement is easily admired on a skeleton wrist watch. We hope you now see all the connections.     

We have been talking about the Steampunk aesthetic for a while. We have also introduced many different aspects about pocket watches in a lot of our articles.  Steampunk wrist watches are a step into modernization that is paying homage  to its roots in history: In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about Steampunk wrist watches, and how they expanded the community’s aesthetic to a whole lot of new people:



Many people are not convinced with the look of pocket watches (which is the most common type of watch in the Steampunk community) because they are certainly not adaptable for every social situation. For example – imagine that you have an important business meeting or a class at university, and that you’d like to wear a Steampunk watch without having to dress up in cosplay. That’s very difficult to pull off with a pocket watch, but not at all with a wrist watch – as they are the most common type of watch that you’ll see “outside” of the Steampunk family.

This way, you will be able to rock a Steampunk piece without having to use an antique time piece. And you will probably be praised for it, too, as it’s not a very usual choice of clothing, but definitely a very good one. The existence of Steampunk wrist watches means that you don’t really have to go “full in” to enjoy this beautiful aesthetic but you can be more casual and subtle. It is a great icebreaker and talking point if you want to softly introduce your acquaintances and freinds to the fashion. Show them your wrist watch and I know from personal experience they have alot of curiosity and questions to ask then you can talk Steampunk all day if you want! Read on and you will know the story behind your wrist watch to share with others. 

⦁ Wrist watch Vs pocket watch – What are their differences?


Pocket watch

⦁ Pocket watches are logically more historically accurate and useful for cosplay events and weddings. They are the same sort of watch that was popularized during the Victorian era, as you surely know, so it’s a perfect fit for these types of events.

⦁ They can be worn in many different ways – inside waistcoats, inside pockets, as parts of accessories such as bags, as pendants, etc.

⦁ They can be accessorized: you can add chains and charms (such as little cogs and gears) to decorate your pocket watch.

Wrist watch


⦁ You don’t necessarily need formalwear or cosplaying clothes to wear them (You’d look good either way).

⦁ You don’t need to think where you should wear them: all of them can be used exclusively on your wrist.

⦁ They can be worn in almost any social context: weddings, Renaissance fairs, business meetings, university classes, etc.

There is a difference between Skeleton and Steampunk wrist watches:

Skeleton wrist watches are normally just that only showing off the beautiful internal watch movement and that is the end of it very minimalistic. Steampunk watches offer a little more specifically nodding to the aesthetic. This could be focussed on larger gears and cogs being on display, the antiquated colour bronze or brass, showing a motif, some more crazier watches can have additions like magnifying glasses attached or even a sun dial.    


⦁ Pros and cons of wrist watch


⦁ Pros

⦁ They can be used in any social setting

⦁ They are subtle time-pieces to wear: you don’t need cosplay clothes or antique attires to match with them.

⦁ They are more compatible with modern décor and aesthetics

⦁ You don’t need to give it much thought after buying them: after choosing the mechanism, you only need to put them on your wrist.

⦁ You don’t need a special jeweller in case that you need someone to repair it. Most watchmakers would gladly help you for the correct price.

⦁ You can engrave initials on these timepieces, as well as phrases or logos.


⦁ Cons

⦁ They are not the most fitting accessory for cosplaying fairs or contests.

⦁ They cannot be used as accessories like pocket watches. You can only wear them on your wrist.

⦁ You can’t add photographs like in pocket watches.

⦁ You can’t add chains or charms to them, due to the way they are designed.

⦁ They can be considered exclusively modern in terms of aesthetic: wrist watches are not historically accurate for period pieces.

⦁ They can’t work as an attention point in your attire, considering that they look very similar to other ‘normal’ wrist watches.

⦁ What are the parts of a wrist watch that a gent or lady needs to know?



As a fun fact, did you know that the exterior façade of a watch can be broken down in several pieces? Each of those pieces contribute to either their functionality or aesthetics in a very dynamic and fluidic way. Here we will help you understand the basics about wrist watches.

⦁ Case
The case is used for accommodating the pieces that define the movement, which what makes the watch work. It also protects the wrist watch for any possible damage that it may suffer (let’s consider that wrist watches are considerably more exposed than other time pieces).

⦁ Dial
You can find it on the frontal window of the watch. It usually has sub dials and readouts on its display. They are usually white, but they can also be grey, black, or of any other colour if they are customized.

⦁ Hands
The watch hands are the small, elongated parts that indicate the time. They are synchronized with the movement of the watch.

⦁ Marker
The marker is one of the numbers or lines that you can see on the face of the watch. They are usually known as an ‘’index’’.

⦁ Crystal
It covers the dial in order to protect it from water and dirt or other particles that could be damaging to the watch. These crystals are made from different sorts of materials: lab-grown sapphire (which is close to a diamond when it comes to hardiness), minerals, glass, or acrylic (which is close to plastic).

⦁ Bezel
This is the outer frame of the watch and it keeps the crystal in place. It can be only used as an aesthetic touch when it comes to the stopwatch functionality or versions adapted for diving.

⦁ Bracelet
It’s a watchband made of metallic links. It’s usually rather big and stands out.

⦁ Strap
It’s also a watchband but is more discrete than the bracelet. Usually made out of leather, ecological (vegan) leather, silicone or other flexible materials.

⦁ Clasp
It keeps the watch secured firmly on the wrist. The two most common types are the ardillon buckle and the deployant clasps.

⦁ Crown
This is a little piece close to the case which helps the user wind the movement of the watch and modifies adjustments such as time and date. Sometimes there is a crown protector in case it’s used accidentally.

. Movement 

A watch movement (also known as a “calibre”) is the powerhouse of a watch that make its functions operate and tick over. This internal mechanism animates the hands also powering the complications whether that be a chronograph, annual calendar or dual time zone.

⦁ Functionalities of the Steampunk wrist watch

When buying a watch, one of the most important things to consider is its movement (the way the watch works). There are three types of watches that we will discuss in this article:

Automatic Mechanical Watch: an automatic mechanical watch uses a mainspring with a self-winding mechanism, which means that a spiral torsion spring of ribbon can calibrate itself to keep track of time. This means that you don’t have to remember to wind the watch every day to power it.

Quartz Electronic Watch: A quartz electronic watch use an electronic oscillator controlled by a quartz crystal. They are frequently more precise than mechanical watches. The first quartz watch was introduced to the world in 1969 in Japan.

⦁ Manual Mechanical Watch: THIS IS MOST STEAMPUNK!  The manual mechanical watch would be the one that fits and dominates the Steampunk aesthetic. You have to wind it yourself and it contains the typical related mechanical movement created in the Victorian era industrial revolution. It does not require a battery because of this.


Wrist watches can be created with different materials, and they can be most evident especially on the case. Here’s a list of the most common materials used by watchmakers:

⦁ Leather (the band)
⦁ Wood
⦁ Glass
⦁ Bronze
⦁ Stainless steel
⦁ Gold plaited

⦁ What’s the difference between men and women’s Steampunk wrist watches?

Men and women can wear any watch they want, but there are certain watches that are often marketed towards one gender or the other, simply because of popular demand. However, we’ll let you know all these options to let you choose whatever fits your style the most!

⦁ Men’s wrist watches: Exactly like regular watches, men’s Steampunk wrist watches usually tend to have little to no extra touches of colour, are bigger in size, and are thought to match the colour palette that’s more common among men. Bronze is the most usual material to be seen on the cases. Some people try to get rid of the subtlety of the bracelet a little bit more, and add extra details like in the second picture.

⦁ Women’s wrist watches: Steampunk wrist watched for women tend to be smaller in size, and can be made of leather (painted with a white coating) or with a stainless steel and an extra coating of colour (like golden rose).


⦁ EXTRA: Eccentric, Crazy, Steampunk wrist watches

Many other pages have frequented the area of ‘extravagant’ or ‘weirdly luxurious’ Steampunk wrist watches, so we wanted to give a shout out to a couple of them. Here are some articles that we found interesting and relevant and that may catch your attention as well:

⦁ The Japanese designer FRISK_P made an OUTSTANDING invention with a Steampunk wrist watch that writes the time by itself. Yes, exactly as you read it. Please check out this link to get to know more about this crazy creation: ⦁ http://www.uniquewatchguide.com/crazy-⦁ Steampunk⦁ -watch-from-japan/ (She also has a Youtube channel linked on the article, so you can check out her other videos!)


⦁ Another strange (but creative!) Steampunk wrist watch was made by Romain Jerome. This wrist watch was created in 2012, due to the celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. That doesn’t sound too crazy, doesn’t it? Well, you also have to consider that this wrist watch was made with actual metallic pieces from the Statue of Liberty, which the company managed to recover during one of the restoration projects made on the French gift. Here’s the link for you to find out more: http://www.uniquewatchguide.com/romain-jerome-liberty-dna/


⦁  Why do mechanical movements with skeleton windows work together so well for the Steampunk style? 


We have already talked about the mechanical parts of a wrist watch. Yes, indeed, a wrist watch can have a mechanical movement (such like the pocket watches!) which would grant them a bigger Victorian vibe, but coated with a layer of subtlety. They can also have skeleton windows, such as the older pocket watches, to show off the mechanical inner works of the timepiece.



⦁ Are skeleton watches more expensive?

Skeleton watches are pricier because they tend to have mechanical movements. A lot of fine detail and craftsmanship goes into their designs, which is reflected in the intricate and alluring inner workings of these watches. The price is also higher than wrist watches that are not skeleton because it takes skill to skeletonise or add a ‘heartbeat window’ that show’s the mechanism. It is worth it though to connect with the Steampunk fashion.



Considering this perspective, that’s a more than valid excuse to consider the raise in price, if you compare it with other cheaply manufactured watches.
However, some affordable designs from economical brands, such as Stührling, look incredible without a price tag worth thousands of dollars.

⦁ Are skeleton mechanical watches fashionable outside of Steampunk genre?

Skeleton watches are very fashionable and look incredible. They are also an excellent way for brands to show off the craftsmanship and engineering that goes into a luxury timepiece with their name.

High-end watchmaking brands such as Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, and Audemars Piguet invest a lot of time and money into creating these incredible timepieces, and they are surely worth a shot. We will explain more about this point in a couple of sections.

⦁ What about modern technologies?

Steampunk wrist watches can also look like modern digital watches. How, you may ask? Well, John de Christofaro’s watch has the answer to this question. This is inspired by the cyberpunk aesthetic. You should check the details of the article here:




⦁ Additional features of the wristwatch

Extra features on a wristwatch are usually called “complications”. As you know, all watches are meant to show the time but some of them have additional features. Some of those features include a date, alarm and even a moon-phase indicator, having additional features on a watch can add to the Steampunk look. Below you can see a list and more in detail about different types of features please rewrite in own words.

⦁ Chronograph

This is just another name for a stopwatch. It has separate dials on its display apart from the main dial. It comes with two buttons; one of them starts/stops the stopwatch and the other one resets it.
Some of these stopwatches also come with a tachymeter which calculates parameters such as speed, distance travelled (flying or on the road) and even how much fuel you’ve consumed. It’s presented as a scale around the rim of a watch.




This feature is especially good for people who are into sports, like coaches or runners.

⦁ Multifunction Subdial


It’s a subdial that displays different elements of time. It can be, for example, some day of the week, a different time zone or a clock in 24-hour format. It has a very professional look and it has been a rampant success since it was released.

⦁ Date Display


As the title says, it’s a feature that displays date. It’s usually an extra window or an extra hand that indicates it. It’s perfect for when you don’t have direct access to your smartphone. Or, you know, if you are a time traveller.

⦁ Moon-phase indicator


This feature is not too practical; it’s more aesthetic in nature. It shows different phases of moon whether it’s a new moon, quarter, half or a full one. If you are, however, into astrology, you may be into this particular characteristic.


⦁ Alarm

It’s a pretty self-explanatory function, but it really comes in handy for people with extremely busy schedules that need immediate reminders.

⦁ Tachymeter

As mentioned above, this feature measures distance travelled with a vehicle whether by flying or on road. Usually comes with a chronograph. It is especially good for race car drivers or pilots.

⦁ Wrist watch cuff (Steampunk)

The wrist watch cuff works exactly like a regular cuff. It’s made to wrap around your arm in the area surrounding the wrist, and oftentimes it can be decorated to give it a more ‘Steampunk’ look, considering that the wrist watch itself has limited options in terms of decoration.


⦁ Pocket watch wrist bracelet


It shouldn’t come off as a surprise that pocket watches CAN be used as wrist watches. How, you may ask? Well, as long as you can mount your pocket watch over a bracelet or a strap, you are good to go. 

⦁ Armour wrist watch

Similar to the wrist watch cuff, the armour wrist watch is just an extra step to make it look more as an object worth of a cosplayer. Remember the Hidden Blade from the Assassin’s Creed franchise? It looks exactly like that.



⦁ Dual time



It’s more than common to want to look at the time of different time regions. Maybe you want to know when to call a relative that lives in another state or country. Also, it’s really fancy looking.


⦁ Mechanical Military wrist

A very popular sort of wrist watch that also has increased its purchased significantly. The camouflage wrist watch has many functions, such as date display and numbers that glow in the dark. It’s also very firm and a great option for those that want to use their watches in outdoor scenarios.



⦁ Big Dial

Some watchmakers want their dials to look bigger than usual – which is specifically made to make the owner of the watch stand out.


⦁ Sundial

The sundial wrist watch is exactly an example of a refreshing design. A lot of watchmakers picked the typical ‘sun clock’ shape and adapted it for a wrist watch. It’s minimalistic style also goes very well with the whole ‘nautical’ aesthetic.


⦁ What accessories complement the Steampunk wrist watch?

Luckily, Steampunk wrist watches can complement clothes on very different sides on the elegancy spectrum. Here we will show you some examples:

⦁ Casual clothes and accessories (short-sleeves t-shirts, customized t-shirts, caps, tattoos)




⦁ Elegant clothes and accessories (cufflinks, waistcoats, hats, necklaces)

⦁ What should you look for while buying a decent wrist watch?

⦁ You should ask yourself first: “Does it have a skeleton window? Or mechanical movement?” – if you know the answer to both of these questions, then you have already moved forward in your purchase.

⦁ If it’s a skeleton wrist watch: look for the self-winding mechanism if you want a more modern look, and look for the manual wrist watch if you want the most Steampunk-looking option (as we discussed in section 5)

⦁ Skeleton vs heart beat window wrist watch:

A skeleton watch is showing the entire inner movement through the lack of a front and sometimes also back watch face. A heart beat window however shows the least of the movement out of the two it has a small viewing hole to see only a part of the ticking mechanism within but not entirely like a skeleton watch. When you buy your wrist watch ask for a ‘skeleton’ ‘mechanical’ wrist watch specifically – that is Steampunk. 


 This is a watch with a heart beat window:

 This is a skeleton wrist watch:


If you are still unsure, please remember to always ask the sellers about what you are looking for mention the ‘Steampunk fashion’ they will know. Watch sellers are usually very well-educated in their field and they will surely offer their help in a very candid way.

⦁ Celebrities wearing skeleton wrist watches

⦁ Mahershala Ali wore a Cartier Skeleton wrist watch during the Oscar’s ceremony in 2019. The watch is called ‘Santos de Cartier Skeleton’.

⦁ Michael B. Jordan has rocked a Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Pirelli, which has a band made out of literal tyres from the Formula 1 car. It’s also an automatic skeleton watch. For real:

⦁ Popularity of skeleton/mechanical wrist watches among people that are not familiar with the Steampunk style – but just love to wear them anyway.
This works specially well with business people. They may not be into the ‘nerdy’ side of the Steampunk community, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t wear Steampunk wrist watches, as we show in these pictures below:

⦁ What are some popular wrist watch brands with Steampunk aesthetic?


⦁ DevonWorks: The first brand to be reviewed that we will be talking about is the one that made the Devon Tread 1 Steampunk watch. The channel aBlogtoWatch made a very complete review about this wrist watch that definitely falls on the more ‘engineering’ side of Steampunk.



⦁ ThinkGeek: This brand is another fantastic choice for wrist watches with Steampunk vibes. And we will actually show you a video of a review made by TechFit360, who bought a beautiful Tesla watch.




⦁ What are some popular wrist watch motifs with a Steampunk style?

‘Many’ is the answer to this question. We will show you a few examples of motifs that you may be familiar with already.

⦁ Steampunk wrist watch with spectacles incorporated: 


⦁ Steampunk wrist watch inspired by vintage aesthetic: 




⦁ Steampunk wrist watch with the typical skeleton ‘octopus’ design:


⦁ Can you personalise your Steampunk wrist watch? 

Before you even consider engraving, first turn your watch over to see if it can be engraved. If it has a plain case back, crafted from steel or a precious metal such as gold or titanium, you’re fine — you can go ahead with whatever inscription you want.
Remember that you can engrave almost anything as long as it fits the watch, such as business logos, initials, romantic imagery (such as roses or hearts) – and even phrases if they are short enough.


⦁ How to self-customise your watch?

⦁ How can you present the wrist watch as a gift?


There are many ways to present your wrist watch as a gift that would make it look really nice. This can work really well, for example, as a wedding gift. Here are some videos that can illustrate our point better, as these links explain how to make different Steampunk or Steampunk-inspired Gift Boxes to surprise the newly married couple!  Take something plain make it Steampunk or Steampunk it !


Hopefully you enjoyed this ride! Steampunk watches are really flexible on their designs and you only have to find the one you like the most. If pocket watches are not your thing, you can also enjoy Steampunk through wrist watches!

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