Skull shaped timepieces have been around since the 14th century, with the most famous being the one that was supposedly owned by Mary, Queen of Scots. The engraved silver skull watch depicted various grim biblical scenes, such as the fall of Adam and Eve and the Crucifixion, while the Grim Reaper (scythe in one hand and an hourglass in the other) is engraved on the forehead of the skull.
In honour of El Día de los Muertos, the Mexican holiday known as the Day of the Dead, we round up three new timepieces from Chopard, MB&F and De Bethune designed with calaveras (skulls) and calacas (skeletons) to accurately point out the witching hour. These memento mori are an apt reminder of the fragility of life and consequently, the importance of ascribing meaning to existence.
01 | CHOPARD
The L.U.C Skull One is a 100-piece limited-edition watch adorned with a Mexican calavera as a tribute to the Day of the Dead. Lacquered on its black dial is a stylised skull with sun, flower and heart-shaped motifs, wearing a moustache and a toothy grin. Time is driven by the L.U.C 96.53-L mechanical movement, an ultra-thin self-winding movement equipped with two barrels based on Chopard Twin technology and ensuring a 58-hour power reserve. The movement can be admired from the back against a blackened sapphire crystal.
02 | MB&F
MB&F’s latest collaboration is with Swiss artist Eddy Jaquet. The LM Split Escapement ‘Eddy Jaquet’ Limited Edition comprises a series of eight unique watches that bring to life eight stories by prolific French author Jules Verne. Engraved on the dials are original art work from Jaquet (not taken or adapted from any existing piece of art) comprising key moments from some of Verne’s most famous works. One of these memorable scenes is taken from Voyage to the Centre of the Earth, when the explorers discoveran enormous fossil graveyard that had bones from prehistoric beasts, as well as an oversized human skull. An additional 300 hours of work was needed to create these miniature works of art.
03 | DE BETHUNE
Successfully encapsulating the festive and joyous essence of how Mexicans celebrate El Día de los Muertos is De Bethune’s DW5 Cempasúchil, named after the marigold flower used at Mexican burials. It bears the artwork of late Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada, that’s been appropriated onto the watch case by Swiss engraving artist Michèle Rothen. Rothen had the tall task of taking Posada’s playful and joyous lithographs of calaveras and miniaturising them into a watch case crafted from flame blued titanium embedded with white, yellow, rose, green (gold combined with a touch of silver), and marbled gold (a blend of white, rose and yellow) inserts. Ensuring that all attention remains on the artwork, time is shown via a minimalist digital hours and minutes display, visible through a hand-cut crystal cabochon. A two-coloured sphere made of blued steel on one half and palladium on the other, indicates the moon phases.