While many people just refer to the hour hand and second hand, people that appreciate the design of quality watches will have taken notice of the intricate designs of some watch hands and may be wondering just how many different types of watch hands there are. Below we outline the most common types of watch hands and some lesser-known ones with sample photos of each type.
Alpha Watch Hands
These watch hands narrow from a wide base at the center of the watch dial to a narrow and pointed stem. Examples of Alpha watch hands are the classic A. Lange & Söhne Datograph or the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda Metrographe.
Arrow Watch Hands
Arrow hands are rather obvious based on their name – the ends of the hands come to a pointed arrow shape. The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Automatic watch is a nice example of the arrow style.
Baton Watch Hands
These watch hands are thin, straight and uniform in thickness. Imagine the thin stick that an orchestra conductor uses to direct the musicians or the baton that relay racers hand off to each other.
Many classic, minimalist designs use baton-style watch hands. Millennial watch brands, Danish watches, and other fashion watch brands such as MVMToften use them because of their thin profile.
Breguet Watch Hands
Named after the well-known French watchmaker, Abraham-Louis Breguet, these watch hands feature a hollow round hoop near the pointed end. Some watch aficionados also colloquially refer to them as “Pomme” (apple in French) Hands due to the resemblance of the loops to the round fruit.
But most agree that the proper name is to give credit to Breguet, who invented the shape along with many other watchmaking parts that still carry his name.
Not surprisingly, some of the best examples of these watch hands are seen on classic Breguet designs, such as the Breguet Marine Mechanical.
Cathedral Watch Hands
Most likely inspired by the stained glass of European cathedrals, these watch hands feature and detailed segmented design on a wider hour hand and slender minute hand. Several Mont Blanc models, including this 1858 feature this style. In some online watch forums, people refer to these as “Squelette” (skeleton in French) because they resemble bones but this is confusing since “Skeleton watch hands” have part of the hand hollowed out (“skeletonized”) see below.
Dauphine Watch Hands
These hands have a tapered diamond-shape and have a distinct line down the middle. Dauphin was a phrase used from 1350 to 1830 as the given to the eldest son of a king of France, indicating that they were the heir apparent to the French crown.
Fleur de Lys Watch Hands
The Fluer de Lys is a decorative design or motif often seen in religious designs and many European family coats of arms, including the royal families. The stylized lily is often associated with the Catholic church, especially Saint Joseph. The one watchmaker that stands out is Swiss watch manufacturer Czapek & Cie that uses Fluer de Lys hands on several of their watches.
Lance Watch Hands
Lance hands are very similar to Alpha, however, they tend to be more slender. Named for the long slender shape of the hands, similar to the long, pointed weapon used by horsemen in jousting. The lance hands gradually taper out from the center to a narrow pointed end. Similar to sword hands but a much more slender profile which makes them practical for dress watches.
Lozenge Watch Hands
Lozenge hands peak in width towards the middle and then narrow again at the end creating a diamond-like shape sometimes with faceted face on the hand. This example below from Cartier is somewhat of a hybrid with the minute hour hand ending in a Breguet-like circle.
Mercedes Watch Hands
Although there is no direct connection to the automobile manufacturer, the tri-sectioned circle on the end of the hour hand does resemble the car brand’s logo. Because of the surface area on the circle, these are sometimes used on luminous watch designs.
Obelisque Watch Hands
Shaped like an obelisk with a pointed end. This Blancpain dive watch is a good example. Named after the narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape such as the famous obelisk at the entrance to Luxor Temple, in Egypt.
Plongeur Watch Hands
Pencil Watch Hands
Skeleton Watch Hands
Snowflake Watch Hands