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Luxury Chinese Watch? CIGA Design ‘Eye of Horus’ Skeleton Watch Blends Beauty With Budget

CIGA Design is quietly building a portfolio of head-turning timepieces, and the Eye of Horus skeleton watch exemplifies what a budget-luxury watch can be.

CIGA Design Eye of Horus skeleton watch on Filson waxed canvas bag(Photo/Adam Ruggiero)
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Let’s be honest — your phone is a computer first, clock second, and instant messenger third. And that’s important for two reasons: One, it shows that a device can have more utility well beyond its original purpose; and two, we all have a reliable means of telling time right in our pocket.

I’ve been curious about the seemingly infinite world of wristwatches for this very reason. Why spend so much money when we all always know the time already? (Apple Watches and other fitness-tracking sportwatches aside, as they offer a wonderful menagerie of fun and useful data beyond hours and minutes.)

But, I got my first taste of the appeal of a sharp-looking, mechanical timepiece when CIGA Design sent an early sample of its latest “Eye of Horus” skeleton watch. And I agreed to try the device not because it was a chance to experience the tippy-top of luxury wrist candy — quite the contrary, the Eye of Horus is comparably dirt cheap in that market, retailing for under $300.

eye of horus skeleton watch on a rock by the sea
(Photo/CIGA Design)

I figured I was the target demographic for this Chinese watch claiming to be every bit the timekeeper as a Swiss competitor (literally, CIGA Design won the prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, universally regarded as “the Oscars of watchmaking” in 2021). Three hundred dollars is about the most I would spend to add a fashionable timepiece to my wardrobe, with the hopes it would be both eye-catching and dependable enough not to fall apart after a few weeks.

In short: Set aside what you think you know about Chinese-made gadgets. CIGA Design is quickly making a name for itself in an industry dominated by the old guard. The Eye of Horus skeleton watch punches well above its class as a conversation starter and intro to mechanical, fashion-forward wristwatches. If you’re shopping for those reasons (beyond telling time at a glance), you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised.

CIGA Design Eye of Horus Skeleton Watch


  • Weight 67g (with strap)
  • Materials Bio-ceramic case, mineral glass, silicone strap
  • Movement Caliber CD 01 Automatic
  • Size 47mm x 48mm
  • Thickness 12mm
  • Accuracy -15 sec ~ +30 sec
  • Price $269


  • Unique, sharp-looking watch
  • Very easy to wind and set
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Very affordable


  • Tough to read at-a-glance
  • Only 3ATM water resistance
  • Lume fades quickly

CIGA Design Eye of Horus Review

CIGA Design Eye of Horus skeleton watch movement
(Photo/Adam Ruggiero)

Materials & Construction

Unlike many watches that boast an eye-catching form factor, CIGA did not outfit the case with stainless steel or a precious metal. Instead, the 48 x 47mm square case comprises bioceramic material — derived in part from castor oil. This is becoming increasingly popular in many outdoor products, and CIGA lauds it for its scratch and shock resistance. In truth, it also helps keep the price tag reasonable.

Mineral glass protects the internal mechanics and provides a clear, break-resistant view of all intricate goings-on of this skeleton watch. The strap is silicone, and while not the flashiest material, it’s very comfortable and secure on the wrist, and stands up to just about any abuse you throw at it.

As for the movement — the beating heart of any mechanical watch — it’s a custom-tailored, Caliber CD 01 Movement, purpose-built for the Eye of Horus. It employs 24 rubies encased within the watch’s unique “X frame.”

Unboxing, Setting the Time

ciga design eye of horus watch on Christmas tree
(Photo/Adam Ruggiero)

CIGA adds a bit of pomp and circumstance to the packaging, leaning into the Egyptian mythology that inspires it. The box offers some theatrics, a faux tome that tells the story behind mythological symbol — “an emblem of protection, luck and rejuvenation,” in CIGA’s words.

The case and straps arrive separate, but assembly is very simple. The back of each strap has a small hammer connected to spring pins. Pull the hammer back, retract the pins, insert the strap into the case, and release the hammer. The pins pop into place and keep the strap secure.

Setting the time and winding the watch marked one of the major upsides. CIGA made this easier than many other automatics I’ve worn over the years. Unlike those, which have multiple crown positions, the Eye of Horus’ obsidian crown has only two: in or out.

CIGA Design Eye of Horus skeleton watch
(Photo/Adam Ruggiero)

First, wind the watch with the crown at the “in” position. Turn the crown clockwise about 30 times to get it properly wound and ticking, right out of the box. Then, pull the crown to the “out” position — the movement will stop when you do this. Turn it counter-clockwise to set the hour and minute hands to the appropriate time. Push the crown back in, and you’re set!

One more note on winding the watch: The exposed “skeleton” design allows you to actually see the mainspring, so you know when it’s nearly unwound, and once you’ve wound it fully. You don’t have to worry about overwinding in any case, but it is helpful — not to mention interesting — to see the spring working.

As for precision, my test sample matched CIGA’s advertised accuracy (-15 seconds up to +30 seconds per day). After 10 days, my timepiece had gained about 4 minutes. So, monitor yours and adjust as necessary.

Eye of Horus Skeleton Watch: Overall Impressions

CIGA Design Eye of Horus skeleton watch on wrist
(Photo/Adam Ruggiero)

The key selling point to this watch, according to CIGA, is its novel form.

“This isn’t just a watch — it’s a conversation starter,” the brand says on its Indiegogo page. “You’re not simply wearing a watch when you strap on the Eye of Horus; you’re embodying individuality and sophistication.”

In other words, sure — it tells time. But it’s really a piece of functional fashion. And in that regard, it’s a stupendous watch. I look forward to someone asking me for the time — I really enjoy looking down at my wrist and watching that beautiful pyramid rotate away the seconds.

Of course, it takes me a good chunk of those seconds to actually decipher what time I’m looking at. This is not an at-a-glance, foolproof means of divining the hour and minute of the day. Its intricate design and mesmerizing movement are beautiful — but not necessarily efficient. Again, if you just want the information, you have a phone that will tell you time with near-perfect accuracy.

But as a slight flex and confidence-boosting piece of your wardrobe, the Eye of Horus definitely excels. It is, indeed, a slice of sophistication and it has started a few conversations just in the few weeks I’ve been wearing it.


I’ll say it once more. If you are interested in this watch for the right reasons — i.e., a sharp-looking, novel timepiece to compliment your overall “look” — you won’t be disappointed. It is a unique product in a category absolutely saturated by a near-infinite array of copycats and knock-offs. And it’s made by an up-and-coming brand that’s earning respect for its creativity and thoughtful design.

For the price, the Eye of Horus presents a solid value for what it’s selling. However, you can’t get everything you want and keep the sticker price affordable. There are two key areas where I feel CIGA had to make concessions to keep the sticker shock at bay.

CIGA Design Eye of Horus watch lume
Eye of Horus luminous hits when fully charged; (photo/Adam Ruggiero)

First, the lume. It is absolutely gorgeous when it’s fully “charged” (by sunlight). The indices and the center triangle are haunting and really pop … at least at first. Like some other watches, the lume will fade if not exposed to UV for a little while.

Second, the Eye of Horus carries a 3 atm water-resistance rating. This should protect it from an errant raindrop or indirect splash from rinsing dishes. But it is not suitable for any submersion. As such, I’m afraid to take mine in the shower — and I’m really afraid I’ll forget to do so. As beautiful as the intricate movement is to see, it would be even more heartbreaking to see it rust or corrode because I got overzealous and jumped in a hot tub one time.

In other words, you should treat this watch as mindfully as you would any other valuable piece of electronics you carry, like your phone or earbuds.


Perhaps the highest praise I can give CIGA Design is that with the Eye of Horus, I’ve gone from not-a-watch guy to kind-of-a-watch guy. It has not groomed me for my first Rolex; my budget for anything style-related remains firmly capped at three digits.

Best of all, it’s a classy timepiece that costs under $300. And with an extended Indiegogo campaign ahead of the full launch, you can still snag this at sub-$200.

The Eye of Horus absolutely gave me a new appreciation for both the aesthetic and painstaking design inherent in a nice watch. If you’re looking for a unique, functional, low-budget, and innovative timepiece, CIGA Design is a fabulous place to start your journey. If you are looking for a more straightforward way to tell time quickly and at a glance (say, when required, like at work), consider other watch designs … or stick with your smartphone.

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Adam Ruggiero

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