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.
Overview of Watch Hand Styles
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. Some of the Omega Speedmaster models also feature Alpha style hands.
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.
Other dive watches, such as the Seiko SKX is also a popular series that features arrow hands.
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 MVMT often 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.
Although there are many affordable brands that also still use this hand style, like this watch by Akribos XXIV:
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 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.
Leaf Watch Hands
Leaf or feuille in French is used to describe these watch hands that have a wide, flattened hour hand mimicking the natural, organic shape of a broad plant leaf.
Lollipop Watch Hands
The hands have large circles at the end, usually covered in luminous surface material. Not a very common hand used on the market.
Lozenge Watch Hands
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.
Plongeur Watch Hands
Diver in French, a more chunky and exaggerated sword shape
Skeleton Watch Hands
Like a skeleton watch that has a see-through portion of the watch face where you can see the interworkings of the gears and movements, skeleton watch hands have part of the hand hollowed out so that you can see through it. This Bulova watch is a skeleton watch, but you can see that parts of the hands are also see through.
Snowflake Watch Hands
Spade Watch Hands
Syringe Watch Hands
Sword Watch Hands
Image sources: Featured image Cloudzilla