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Revisiting DeWitt’s Academia Skeleton [Video]

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June 2018


Revisiting DeWitt's Academia Skeleton

Full of character and with an impressive movement to boot, the Academia Skeleton is another strong component of the Swiss watchmaker’s avant-garde Academia collection.

Those of you familiar with DeWitt will be well aware that the brand’s marketing department likes to remind us that brand founder Jérôme de Witt is a descendant of the one and only Napoléon Bonaparte.

No doubt that’s a great conversation piece, but we’re here to talk about watches. And, thankfully, DeWitt is a noteworthy brand for its watchmaking, and not just for its historical ties.

The Academia Skeleton by DeWitt
The Academia Skeleton by DeWitt

The Swiss watchmaker’s Academia collection, for example, has always stood out for me. Recent impressions include the Academia Mathematical}, a concept watch that has no hands, as well as the innovative Academia Endless Drive, whose centre features a rotating “endless screw” on the dial inspired by automotive mechanics.

Revisiting DeWitt's Academia Skeleton

The DeWitt Academia Skeleton is yet another creative timepiece that boasts the brand’s signature complications. Launched in 2016, the watch sports a manually wound skeleton movement with a complex design.

But as impressive as the skeletonisation is here, the most impressive part of this watch is probably its bi-retrograde seconds hand at 7 o’clock. And once again, the brand has relied on the design and mechanics of the automotive industry to pull it off.

Bi-directional seconds at 7 o'clock, the most distinctive part of the new movement
Bi-directional seconds at 7 o’clock, the most distinctive part of the new movement

When observed in action, the seconds hand mimics the windscreen wipers of a car, which constantly move back and forth to clean the windscreen. In this case, the hand changes direction every 30 seconds. Thanks to a disconnecting gear system, the hand instantaneously jumps and reverses its direction to mark the following 30 seconds.

In short, the seconds are indicated in two different directions. Is this really necessary? Absolutely not. But then again, a lot of modern mechanical watchmaking is not necessary for timekeeping. But it’s an impressive display of a brand’s watchmaking prowess nevertheless. It’s also just a fun way to tell the time.

The power reserve is indicated directly across the complex dial at 1 o’clock. The manually wound movement promises no less than 100 hours of autonomy thanks the double barrel inside the rose gold case measuring 42.5mm across and only 10.3mm in hight.

The power reserve system is based on the “satellite” principle, which has been used for over a decade now. The Tourbillon Differentiel model even won an award for it in the innovation category at the Grand Prix de l’Horlogerie de Genève in 2005.

Revisiting DeWitt's Academia Skeleton

As we are now used to from DeWitt, the Academia Skeleton also meets the highest standards of finishing, including satin-brushed finishes, circular graining, polished chamfering and indented angles.

All that adds up to a price point north of 80,000 Swiss francs. Whether or not that’s worth the fun to be had observing this otherwise impressive timekeeper in action is up to you.