Despite paring their dial designs back to an absolute minimum, skeleton watches offer brands a canvas for a vast range of expressions. Skeleton designs can range from classically inspired to wildly futuristic, and from elegantly formal to boldly sporting. Because these watches offer so little in the way of visual real estate beyond their movements, even minor adjustments to a skeleton watch’s layout can have an outsize effect on the character of the overall design, and few brands grasp this concept as completely as Raymond Weil. Since the introduction of the Freelancer RW1212 Skeleton in 2018, the brand has stretched its design in multiple distinctive directions, but for its latest release Raymond Weil aims to create a bolder, more usable riff on its existing visual themes. The new Raymond Weil Blue Skeleton Freelancer Limited Edition blends elements from multiple previous iterations together with striking new touches to create a sporty and legible new vision for the series.
Although the 42.5mm form of the Raymond Weil Blue Skeleton Freelancer Limited Edition is carried over from previous iterations, the brand gives this familiar stainless steel case a twist with unique finishing. The sharply faceted narrow tapering lugs, brushed case sides, and simple smooth bezel all take on a darker and more purposeful character thanks to a coat of medium gray PVD. This gives the fully brushed case an almost titanium-esque look in images but allows the watch to keep the sense of heft associated with steel. Raymond Weil fits the Blue Skeleton Freelancer Limited Edition with a sapphire display caseback and rates the watch for a sporting 100 meters of water resistance.
Most of the Raymond Weil Blue Skeleton Freelancer Limited Edition’s skeleton dial design is shared with previous iterations of the series, but here the brand mixes existing cues with athletic new additions to create a masculine and easily legible new look. This new model takes the Freelancer RW1212 Skeleton’s flowing, curved skeleton bridges and anoints them with an aggressive new black-coated perlage texture, allowing the underlying movement elements to shine through in images while maintaining a richly detailed finish. Likewise, the beveled outer chapter ring is a holdover from the Freelancer RW1212 Skeleton. For this model, however, Raymond Weil makes this minutes scale stand out starkly against the dial with a new matte cobalt blue finish, while visually simplifying and condensing the printed Raymond Weil logo at 12 o’clock. By far the most striking new addition to the dial design is the new set of applied Arabic numerals. Where previous models in the series used a broad hours ring with dressy applied indices or abandoned hour markers entirely, the Blue Skeleton Freelancer Limited Edition balances at-a-glance legibility with unimpeded visibility of the movement below. The numerals themselves are bold and angular, reminiscent of sporting jerseys in initial images, and help to give the overall design a more substantial presence in images when coupled to the softer tapering baton handset. Raymond Weil’s choice of orientation for these numerals may prove divisive, however, particularly with the abrupt shift in positioning between the 3 o’clock and 4 o’clock numerals. As with previous iterations of the skeletonized Freelancer, this model deliberately frames the 6 o’clock balance wheel as the centerpiece of the design and accentuates this open and airy element with a flowing, pared-back balance bridge.
Raymond Weil equips the Blue Skeleton Freelancer Limited Edition with its RW1212 automatic movement. Designed in partnership with Sellita exclusively for Raymond Weil, the RW1212 is built from the ground up with skeletonization in mind and arranges elements like its open 12 o’clock mainspring barrel for aesthetic impact as much as efficiency. When viewed from the caseback side, the RW1212 devotes more space to black-coated perlage plates and bridges, but still frames key elements like the balance wheel for easy visibility. Although the movement layout is attractively finished, the RW1212 is markedly under-gunned by modern performance standards, offering only a 38-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. Raymond Weil finishes the Blue Skeleton Freelancer Limited Edition with an alligator-pattern calf leather strap in classic matte black with prominent blue contrast stitching.
Although mostly reliant on existing series cues, the new Raymond Weil Blue Skeleton Freelancer Limited Edition remixes familiar elements along with key new additions to create a fresh and athletic new style for the line. Only 200 examples of the Raymond Weil Blue Skeleton Freelancer Limited Edition will be made, and the watch will be available on April 18, 2022, exclusively online and through authorized dealers in the United States. Prospective buyers can also pre-order the watch via an early access event starting April 15, 2022, through the brand’s official e-commerce platform. MSRP for the Raymond Weil Blue Skeleton Freelancer Limited Edition stands at $3,075 as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.