Best Exposed Gear Watches [2023]

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Best Exposed Gear Watches

Best of the Best
Stührling Original Skeleton Dial Watch
Runner Up
Bulova Automatic self-wind Watch
Best on a Budget
Forsining Skeleton Watch
Stuhrling Original Mens Automatic-Self-Wind Luxury Dress Skeleton Dual Time Gold-Tone Wrist-Watch 22 Jewels 47 mm Stainless Steel Case Decorative Exposed Back Embossed Supple Genuine Leather Strap
Bulova Men's 96A194 Analog Display Automatic Self Wind Silver Watch
Forsining Men's Unique Design Automatic Movement Popular Style Skeleton Analog Dial Watch with Leather Strap
Best of the Best
Stührling Original Skeleton Dial Watch
Stuhrling Original Mens Automatic-Self-Wind Luxury Dress Skeleton Dual Time Gold-Tone Wrist-Watch 22 Jewels 47 mm Stainless Steel Case Decorative Exposed Back Embossed Supple Genuine Leather Strap
Runner Up
Bulova Automatic self-wind Watch
Bulova Men's 96A194 Analog Display Automatic Self Wind Silver Watch
Best on a Budget
Forsining Skeleton Watch
Forsining Men's Unique Design Automatic Movement Popular Style Skeleton Analog Dial Watch with Leather Strap

Today we’re breaking down our picks for the best exposed gear watches.

And with all of the different styles of watches out there, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd and get your hands on a bespoke time-telling device.

That is until the exposed gear watch came along.

Otherwise known as the skeleton watch, this type of watch bares all. It gives you a rare peek at the inner workings of the watch, in all of its mechanical glory.

If you love the idea of investing in a watch that not only looks great from afar but even more stunning up close, there are few devices that come close in their ability to impress.

Let’s dive into our top picks for men’s exposed gear watches. Here they are…

👑 Our Pick for Best Overall

Stührling Original Skeleton Dial Watch
645 Reviews
Stührling Original Skeleton Dial Watch
This skeleton watch from Stührling is well worth your time, and tells a story with its sun and moon display which stays in constant motion.

Our Other Picks for Best Exposed Gear Watch

Best Exposed Gear Watch Reviews

Stührling Original Skeleton Dial Watch (👑 Best of the Best)

In our view, it doesn’t get much better than the Stührling Original skeleton watch if you’re looking for style and substance at a reasonable price. 

The best exposed gear watch, the Stührling skeleton watch comes in three striking color options: gold, silver, and rose gold. Whichever you pick, you’re unlikely to be disappointed. Unlike other watches, you won’t get a monochromatic clock face with this watch as there is so much intricate detail with the exposed gears shining through. That means if you go for gold you’ll be treated to a sparkling silver interior with flashes of blue, while the silver model will be balanced out with a deep ocean blue and a hint of gold. Each version of the skeleton watch is a work of art in itself, so if you like the watch spend some time thinking about which would go best with your wardrobe. 

The polished beveled bezel exterior of the face is truly a sight to behold, and the watch tells a story just as well as the time. There are two dials on the watch, but then there is the sun at the bottom and the moon on top. This would be enough if the sun and moon depictions were just there to dazzle, but as with everything else with this watch: the style is backed up by real substance. The striking sun at the bottom of the watch has a balance wall with bright blue screws that will move constantly to tell you where the sun is in the sky—just another reason to become enchanted with this magical watch.

Sticking with the aesthetic of the watch, the quirky clock face design is backed up by a genuine leather strap. It would have been the obvious choice to go with a metal strap to complement the metal face of the watch, but in our view, the contrast provided by the leather works well. The end result is an extremely polished finish that would look good on any wrist. The strap is alligator embossed, too, so it screams of quality and should withstand wear and tear well.

As for features, the skeleton watch is an automatic dual-time device which makes it the perfect companion for any trip. It has a second-time zone sundial and a rotating AM/PM indicator so you know exactly what you need to know at every moment. The watch is 50m water resistant, so if you are daring enough to bring it close to water you won’t have to worry about it breaking down on you if it gets splashed.


  •  Available in gold, silver, and rose gold
  •  Genuine alligator embossed leather band
  •  Sun and moon balance wheel
  •  Comprehensive International Warranty
  •  Automatic mechanism

Bulova Automatic Self-wind Watch (🥈 Runner Up)

The Bulova automatic self-wind watch is our runner up pick for the best exposed gear watch.

This open-heart style watch from Bulova doesn’t reveal all like the Stührling skeleton watch, but instead provides just a glimpse of the inner workings of the device. If you enjoy a mix of traditional and modern design, then this watch will be right up your street. The face features a classic analog design, but at the bottom, there is a small circular opening that shows you the gear hard at work turning the clock hands around. This makes it an excellent option if you don’t want to see the entire inner workings of the watch, but you’re still curious about exposed gear watches.

The rectangular design of the face is unusual, which lends another spin on the classic watch aesthetic. The black dial contrasts nicely with the stainless steel strap, and this makes the watch perfect for wearing with a nice suit or when dressing down and looking for a flash of brilliance. It can be the fashion accessory that elevates your style, or the minimalist watch that goes well with your formal wardrobe. There’s also faceted sapphire crystal in the face of the watch, and automatic heart-beat-like movement which is enthralling to watch.

This watch from Bulova is water-resistant to 30m, and the stainless steel strap makes it a durable option. It has a 40 hour power reserve and a double press deployant closure system.


  •  Rectangular face
  •  Stainless steel strap
  •  Black open aperture dial
  •  30m water resistant 
  •  Faceted sapphire crystal
  •  Double press deployant closure
Bulova Automatic self-wind Watch
71 Reviews
Bulova Automatic self-wind Watch
The bulova automatic self-wind watch is a classic example of how to do a subtle exposed gear design without sacrificing the classic aesthetic of the device.

Forsining Skeleton Watch (💰 Best on a Budget)

If you’re on a budget but you can’t stop thinking about how cool it’d be to have your own exposed gear watch, then you should absolutely check out the affordable Forsining skeleton watch.

Proving that you don’t need to splash out to get your hands on an exposed gear watch, the Forsining skeleton watch provides a minimalist look for those wanting a skeleton watch on a budget. Looking at this watch, you wouldn’t know that it’s available for a fraction of the price of most exposed gear watches. Available in as many as eight different color combinations, this watch is a minimalist work of art. You can choose the design that best suits your preferences, whether you’re looking for a genuine leather strap or a stainless steel one, a black and white color scheme or a silver and brown one.

The design of this watch needs to be seen to be believed. To describe it isn’t to do it justice, but here goes: the clock face looks as if it has been shattered like glass, with a large section of it completely missing. There’s a single shard of the face remaining on the left hand side of the watch, and a thick strip of metal stretching across the diagonal. On this strip is everything you need to tell the time, so you have an unrestricted view of the inner workings of this watch – which are more like the outer workings given the bare bones aesthetic. The 17-jewels automatic movement gives you something to watch, while the skeleton analogue dial allows you to make adjustments.

The watch is waterproof up to 30m, and has a mineral dome lens, an alloy case, and in this case a genuine leather strap. There’s a stainless steel crown, caseback, and a special dial design. The watch comes in a gift box making it the perfect gift for the man in your life, and it is backed up by a 90-day limited manufacturer warranty.


  •  Available in 8 color combinations
  •  Minimalist design
  •  Stainless steel crown
  •  Genuine leather strap
  •  30m water resistant
  •  90-day limited manufacturer warranty
  •  Comes in a gift box
Forsining Skeleton Watch
317 Reviews
Forsining Skeleton Watch
If you’re looking for a skeleton watch on a budget it’s hard to overlook the value for money offered by the Forsining watch. While the minimalist design won’t be for everyone, we believe it’s an attractive exposed gear watch.

Ultimate Guide

Choosing the right watch is never an easy decision to make.

There are so many different styles out there even when it comes to the niche of exposed gear watches, not to mention all the features and specifications that can vary from one device to the next.

As a result, you need a gameplan if you’re to make an informed decision.

In this guide, we’ll talk you through the most important factors you should consider when investing in an exposed gear watch. But before we dive into the specifics, we’re going to address the most basic question on the topic.

Related: Best Digital Watches for Men

What is a Skeleton Watch?

A skeleton watch is a mechanical device that works in such a way that you can see the moving parts. Usually, this means a part of the clock face has been removed to give you a glimpse of the inner working, but sometimes the whole face is altered and you end up with a strikingly bare-bones aesthetic. The full scaling back is sometimes referred to as ‘true skeletonization’because it leaves you with nothing but the essential parts of the watch.

It’s not the case that skeleton watches have recently come into existence, but they have soared in popularity in recent years because of how creative the designs are becoming.

As you’ll see from the selection of watches we picked out for this article, there are some truly unique designs on the market that will blow you away.

Why do you want a watch?

A question you should address before you invest in any watch is why exactly you want one in the first place.

If you don’t have an answer to this question then you’ll have a tough time picking out a watch you’ll still be happy wearing a few weeks or months in. Given that watches don’t come cheap, especially exposed gear devices, you don’t want to make an investment until you’ve clarified your reasoning on why you want to buy one.

Do you want to buy a watch to tell the time at work?

Do you want a watch that can accompany you on your travels?

Do you want a watch that’ll impress your peers?

All of these are valid reasons to own a watch, and there are many more of course, so find out what your reason is.

It’s important to know, because if you end up spending a fortune on a flash skeleton watch, only to not wear it because you’re afraid of damaging it then you’ve arguably wasted money. Likewise, if you just buy any old watch, you might not be happy with how it makes you feel or how it matches with your wardrobe.

Since a watch is an accessory that you’ll probably want to wear on a daily basis, you should give the reason behind buying one some real thought.


Forget the features of the watch for a moment, one of the most important factors which should have a significant influence on your decision-making process is the design.

This is even more true of exposed gear watches, since the appeal largely hinges upon their unique aesthetic.

If you go for an extremely bare-bones, skeletonized watch only to realize later down the line that you prefer the traditional aesthetic then you’re going to think you made a poor investment. As such, it’s essential that you spend a good amount of time looking at the various watches you’re considering and contemplating whether you’re just initially drawn to them or whether you’d appreciate the aesthetic of the quirky watch over time.

It’s easy to be impressed by the exposed gear watch, so try not to get too drawn in by this. An impulse buy is the worst thing you can do when it comes to watches.

It’s a sensible idea to imagine what the watch you’re considering would look like with your work clothes, casual wear, and other outfits you wear on a regular basis. Likewise, think about the material of the strap and the color scheme of the watch, and assess whether they would work well with your wardrobe.


Watches can have all kinds of impressive features, intended to draw you in and keep you interested in the long run.

Though, it’s good to be able to tell whether a feature is actually going to be useful, or whether it just sounds cool.

For instance, if you see a watch has a jazzy-looking altimeter but you don’t regularly go hiking or spend time outdoors, then it’s a worthless feature for you. Just because a watch is water resistant up to 100m, it doesn’t make it any better than a watch that is water resistant to 30m if you don’t plan on swimming with it.

So take the following features with a grain of salt, and think about which of them could entertain or inform you on a regular basis.

Time Zones

Some watches, like the Stührling Original will have alternate dials that allow you to check the time in a different time zone.

This for many is just a luxury and nothing more, but for some people it will be a useful tool for conducting international business or staying in touch with loved ones who live abroad.

Sun and Moon Balance Wheel

Another feature belonging to the Stührling Original is the sun and moon balance wheel.

Some watches have features like this which serve to entertain, and show you the position of both the sun and moon at any time of the day.

What’s fun about having one of these balance wheels is that you can see it in constant motion searching for the astral bodies in the sky.


While not actually a feature of the watch itself, a manufacturer warranty is an essential extra for just about any watch.

If you don’t have a warranty, then you’ll have to be extra careful not to damage the watch since you won’t be able to get it easily fixed free of charge.

The length of the warranty will depend on the manufacturer, so make sure you check the details of it before you buy.

Related: Best Watch With Compass

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Frequently Asked Questions About Exposed Gear Watches

What is a skeleton watch?

A skeleton watch has an uncovered dial that allows you to take a peek inside the device and see the gears in operation.

It’s called a skeleton watch because it provides an insight into the inner workings of the watch, beyond the body.

This type of watch tends to be mechanical and is popular among many for its mesmerizing aesthetic which has you watching as the seconds tick by.

What is the best skeleton watch?

We believe that the best skeleton watch is the Stührling Original.

The Stührling Original is an excellent skeleton watch that looks absolutely stunning in all three colors it’s available in.

The watch, as well as having an incredibly unique aesthetic, features a sun and moon display that is in constant motion tracking the position of the two astral bodies in the sky.

Are skeleton watches fashionable?

Absolutely. Skeleton watches are unique and provide something different from what we think of as a standard watch.

It’s hard not to admire the craftsmanship of one of these watches, and stare as the gears turn and the hands move in sync.

Many top brands produce these exposed gear watches, and as a result, they can often be highly sought-after products.

A Final Word From The Trending Man

Owning a skeleton watch is like buying a lifetime ticket to a hypnotist show: you’re guaranteed to be mesmerized.

Watching the clock hands move will never get old, and that alone is more than enough reason to get your hands on an exposed gear watch.

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The Trending Man

Our detailed review has been contributed to by multiple members of The Trending Man Review Team to ensure the best research and highest standard of quality. Have a good or a bad experience with one of the products? Please let us know, we love the feedback!

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