The skeleton watch has become a very popular style these days. And I can see why- being able to see the inner mechanical workings through the front of the watch is pretty mesmerizing.
And now that more and more watch makers are including skeleton watches in their collections, it’s giving us watch aficionados a lot more options to choose from.
Which is good news for the folks out there that aren’t working with a huge budget because it also means there are plenty of affordable skeleton watches on the market.
But, like everything else in life, all affordable skeleton watches aren’t created equal. Don’t worry though, we got your back.
In this article, we’ll go over our top picks for the best affordable skeleton watches for men. After reading, you’ll know what to look for, as well as where to look, to find the best options for your wrist.
“Affordable” means something different to all of us, depending on how our finances are looking, so we should probably set some ground rules before we get rolling here.
For the sake of this article, “affordable” will be defined as any skeleton watch with an asking price under $500.
The 5 Best Affordable Skelton Watches For Men (Under $500)
#1 Ingersoll 1892 The Herald Automatic
You might not be familiar with the Ingersoll 1892 brand name, but I bet you’ve seen some of their watches before without knowing it.
Ever seen the classic Mickey Mouse watch? Yup, that’s Ingersoll.
The American brand has been around since the late 1800’s and gained popularity for their affordable “dollar watches”, that literally costed $1 (which was a day’s wages at the time…crazy how things change).
Anyway, the Ingersoll brand has been going pretty strong ever since and are still offering some great looking, affordable watches to this day.
Their Herald Automatic comes with a gorgeous silver, stainless steel case and grey leather band that compliment the metal components perfectly.
And with Roman numerals on the dial, this skeleton watch is actually a little easier to read than many.
Under the hood, there’s an automatic movement, which is a pleasant surprise in this price range. The dial is protected by a mineral glass crystal. The case measures 43 mm in diameter, making it very wearable for most men.
An added bonus, this watch is water resistant to 50 m and is backed by a lifetime warranty.
If you’re looking for a great looking skeleton watch that’s built to last, Ingersoll’s Herald Automatic is a perfect choice.
#2 Bulova Men’s Automatic (98A179)
Bulova is another American watch company with a lot of history under its belt (we don’t usually think about American watch companies and history, but there are several that have been around for a long time).
Bulova specializes in budget friendly watches and they do a nice job of creating timepieces that look like they should cost a lot more than they do.
This automatic watch just so happens to come with a skeleton dial, as you can plainly see all the mechanical components doing their thing.
I love the gunmetal color on the case and matching bracelet. I think it would work perfectly for those gents looking for a more masculine timepiece to add to their wrist.
The case here is made out of stainless steel and measures 46 mm in diameter, making it the largest watch on this list.
It’s also the only watch on this list that comes with a sapphire crystal (the most preferred crystal material due to its scratch resistance).
The color schemes of the dial does make this watch a little harder to read- the minute and hour hands are a little camouflaged by the silver skeleton- but let’s be real, most men looking for a skeleton watch are more interested in the art than the function.
Overall, if you’re looking for a cool looking skeleton watch with higher-end specs, this timepiece from Bulova is a smart choice.
#3 Bulova Classic White Skeleton Dial
Another Bulova made the list. It was actually hard to narrow it down to just these 2 because they do have several nice looking, affordable skeleton watches to choose from.
So if you don’t see anything on this list that does it for ya, you might want to check out Bulova’s lineup a little more closely- just saying.
Moving on, I like this Classic White Skeleton Dial model because it’s understated and elegant.
At first glance, it looks like a classic gold watch, but if you look again you’ll notice the skeleton dial, which definitely adds a modern flare.
The skeleton dial isn’t overpowering here- the dial is still pretty easy to read, in case you want to use your watch for keeping real time (which can’t be said for most skeleton watches).
The case here is 43 mm in diameter and made out of stainless steel. The crystal in mineral glass, which is common for this price range.
This Bulova timepiece also comes with an automatic movement, which is impressive considering this watch comes with an asking price under $300.
The sophisticated case is paired with a brown leather band with a fold over deployment.
Overall, if you’re looking for one of the most affordable, yet attractive looking, skeleton watches around, you found it.
#4 Fossil Grant Automatic
Fossil is another popular name in affordable watches, as well as other affordable leather goods. I’ve owned a couple of their watches over the years and I’m currently using one of their leather watch cases (all of which hold up surprisingly well).
Much like Bulova, Fossil has mastered the art of creating simple, elegant looking watches that look better than they should, given the price.
Their Grant Automatic easily falls into that category.
As the name implies, not only is this a skeleton watch, but it’s also an automatic watch. The stainless steel case here is just a tad larger than the other watches mentioned so far at 44 mm.
This watch also comes with a mineral glass crystal and a light brown leather band.
The skeleton window on the dial is a little smaller on this watch, which gives you a little peek of the internal workings without completely taking over the dial.
This makes this watch easier to read at quick glance, which can be a problem with other skeleton watches. The use of large Roman numerals also makes telling time easier.
Overall, a very nice looking skeleton watch that is well priced at under $400.
#5 Stührling Original Men’s Skeleton Watch
Even though the Stührling brand would like us to think it has company roots that extend back to the classic era of Swiss watchmaking, the truth is it’s an American brand that’s been around for about 20 years, give or take.
I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but there’s nothing Swiss about these timepieces, other than the name.
And I’m not hating here, I think this brand has really cool watches that are very well priced, but I just don’t want people to see the name and think they’re getting Swiss craftsmanship.
Regardless, their Original Men’s Skeleton watch comes with a cool dial design. I like the use of blue hands to compliment the blue color of the moon phase subdial.
You’ll also notice a hint of blue with the visible screws near the bottom.
I like the silver option for the dial- it matches the inner components perfectly and I think the black leather band offers a nice contrast.
Inside the case, there’s an automatic movement, which is always a plus. The crystal is made out of Stührling’s krysterna material, which sounds like a type of mineral glass to me.
Not that I would recommend going swimming with this watch on, but if you do get wet, don’t worry- this skeleton watch is also water resistant to 50 m.
A Few Thoughts On Skeleton Watches
I hope you enjoyed our top skeleton watch picks for this price range. If you ask me, these represent the best out there for under $500.
I wanted to finish up with a quick intro to skeleton watches in general. The more you know, the easier it’ll be for you to find a watch to match your taste and needs.
I’m assuming we all know what a skeleton watch is at this point, but just to be sure- a “skeleton” watch is one in which the internal mechanics of the watch are visible from the front of the dial.
With skeleton watches, we get to see the watch’s “bones”, if you will.
Plenty of automatic watches come with transparent case backs, so you can see the automatic movement in action, but skeleton watches let you see more of the internal action (and many skeleton watches also come with transparent backs too).
These watches certainly aren’t for everyone.
If you’re actually looking for a timepiece that’s easy to read and lets you instantly see what time it is, a skeleton watch probably isn’t for you.
Being able to see the internal components can be cool, but it’s hard to deny that it makes telling time more difficult (on many skeleton watches anyway).
A lot of times, the watch hands and hour markers blend in with the internal components, making it a little tricky to see what time it is.
But, I think it’s safe to say that most guys looking for a skeleton watch are doing so more for how they look, instead of how easy they are to read.
And skeleton watches can look great, becoming more a piece of art than a time keeper.
When comparing these watches or any other, I always like to consider the type of movement (mechanical vs quartz) used, as well as the materials used for the case, crystal, and band.
If you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck, you’ll probably want to find one that comes with an automatic movement and a sapphire crystal (which is possible, as Bulova has proven).
But if you’re just going for a good look, you don’t have to worry about movements and crystals, just find something you like.
Oh, and in case anybody is wondering, besides aesthetics, a skeleton dial doesn’t necessarily add any value to a watch. And it certainly doesn’t make it any more or less accurate.
As this list shows, there are very affordable skeleton watches out there. There are also very expensive models out there. Regardless of your budget, rest assured you should be able to find a watch to match it.