Scary times for Halloween: watches that go bump in the night

Macabre themes for Halloween darken the dials of upmarket mechanical watches to remind us of our fleeting existence.

Swiss watchmaker Romain Jerome is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Dark Knight with the RJ-Romain Jerome Batman-DNA watch, which recreates the angular contours of the Batmobile on its dramatic 46mm black PVD-coated case watch.

By Rebecca Doulton in Madrid

It's Halloween again and our streets will be invaded by vampires, zombies, skeletons and a cemetery of ghouls pounding on doors for a trick or treat. But for a change, wouldn't it be a treat, to find one of these scary watches in your jack-o'-lantern instead of the standard fist-full of candy?

Batman is always a popular choice of costume on Halloween and Swiss watchmaker Romain Jerome is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Dark Knight with a very dark timepiece that recreates the angular contours of the Batmobile on its dramatic 46mm black PVD-coated case. On the dial, a black lacquered Batman symbol is surrounded by a halo of luminescence - the legendary Bat-Signal - set against the Gotham City skyline. Fitted with a mechanical, self-winding movement, the watch is limited to 75 pieces.

Daniel Strom gets the spooky prize for his over-the-top Gothic extravaganza called the Memento Mori, Carpe Noctem watch. Miniature skulls with ruby-encrusted eyes sculpted into the silver case seem to protect the hand-painted red Urushi lacquered dial from the living. Luckily, it is powered with an automatic ETA 2824 calibre so will only need a quick shake every couple of days to keep it ticking.

Skulls are the most prevalent choice among high-end watchmakers to represent our mortality. But how about skeletonising a skull? Well it can be done as Richard Mille shows with the RM 52-01 Skull watch. The skull has been sculpted in red gold and housed for kingdom come in a case made from nano-ceramic. This high-tech material is highly resistant to scratches and resilient to blows to protect the manual winding tourbillon movement nestled inside.

Following bodily decomposition, skulls and bones become surprisingly lightweight. In deference to nature's ways, Hublot's Classic Fusion Tourbillon Skull manages to keep its weight to a minimum thanks to its fusion of avant-garde materials. The 45mm case is made of lightweight ceramic-coated aluminium and in the quest for lightness, the manual-winding movement has been elaborately skeletonised, shaving off any superfluous parts.

Independent watchmaker Peter-Speake Marin's Face to Face double skull watch is probably the least ghoulish of the selection making it an ideal everyday memento mori. The classical skulls have been artfully etched on the dial with an innovative chemical technique.

Bell & Ross has made a name for itself with its cockpit-inspired watches. The rectangular BR 01 was, you could say, the case that launched a thousand ships for the brand and a natural choice to frame the Skull and Cross Bones model. The smiling skull at the centre of the dial is studded with white diamonds and the bones, bezel and case front with black diamonds. From the skies to the great unknown, at least your watch will keep on ticking.

Happy Halloween. 

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