Much to my unquenchable chagrin, TMI, or "too much information", has become part of the vernacular. Now, I'm not about to launch into a rant about how text speak is invading the English language - do people actually LOL all the time? What of guffaw, titter, giggle, chortle, chuckle and snicker? Where's the nuance? - but since when did information become a bad thing? Sure, not everyone wants to know about some Z-list celebrity's difficulties with her bikini line but, in other instances, a bit more information is desirable.
In the horology business, some regard the skeleton watch as being TMI: on one level because the "innards" of the watch are on display; on another, because it is considered a bit showy. To other minds, however, such exhibitionism should be celebrated, as it truly shows off the art of watchmaking, and puts paid to those tired questions about why mechanical watches are priced the way they are.
First up we have the Roger Dubuis Excalibur 42 Skeleton Flying Tourbillon (left bottom). An imposing watch in both name and design, this 2013 rendering of the Excalibur 42 white-gold case comes with subtle changes but the centrepiece is still the transparent dial, which shows off the flying tourbillon, at the seven o'clock position. On show also is the in-house RD505SQ movement, which has the distinction of holding the Geneva Seal, a rarity in mechanical watchmaking. Despite the overt masculinity in its design and colour scheme, this watch is sized at a comparatively modest 42mm, and is all the better for it as the smaller size lends it a little restraint. Power reserve is a healthy 60 hours and the watch comes with a stitched black alligator leather strap. The Roger Dubuis Excalibur 42 Skeleton Flying Tourbillon is priced at HK$1.33 million.
Next we have the Franck Muller Tourbillon Rapide (top), an intriguing skeletonisation of the iconic tonneau-shaped case. Franck Muller isn't to everyone's taste and, to be honest, some of its more fashion-y watches are hard to love, but people forget that it is an innovative brand capable of raising eyebrows among even the most jaded of aficionados. This watch contains what Franck Muller calls a "thunderbolt"-like FM2025T movement, which, the company claims, is the world's fastest tourbillon escapement. Now that last sentence would be lost on all bar watch geeks, but it is a testament to the engineering that has gone into the four-barrelled movement. The white-gold tonneau case measures 32.2mm by 38.4mm and gives the dial a pleasing symmetry, with the tourbillon placed at the six o'clock position and four corner barrels that can store up to 60 hours of power reserve. Prices for the Tourbillon Rapide are available upon request.
Finally, we have the Hublot Classic Fusion Skeleton Tourbillon Black Ceramic (above left), a mouthful and an eyeful of a watch. With its all black colour scheme and slimmed down case, this 2013 Black Ceramic is all about marrying the contemporary with elements of classic watchmaking. Sure, the Hublot elements are still there - the rivets and the defined and solid lugs - but this watch looks and feels a bit different. The eye is, of course, drawn to the dial, where the skeleton finish reveals both the tourbillon at the six o'clock position and the cleverly cut movement, which resembles a rotor, at the 12 o'clock position. The case is sized at 45mm and is made of polished black ceramic, while power reserve is a whopping 120 hours. The Hublot Classic Fusion Skeleton Tourbillon Black Ceramic is priced at HK$748,000 and is limited to 99 pieces.