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Watches 101: The 12 Most Popular Watch Hands

By: B.A Morley, Editor, TheWatchIndex.com
The 12 Most Popular Watch Hands

Have you noticed the unique styles and designs of watch hands? Would you be able to tell the difference between a lance and a leaf? If not, you have nothing to worry about. Now you can use this guide to identify the top 12 most popular watch hands. 

Although they are small, watch hands are the finishing touch that make the dial come together. A dial can only be balanced if the watch hands match its style. For instance, it would look rather odd to have cathedral-style hands on a sport watch or large sword hands on a minimalist watch. 

Alpha

Alpha hands have a wide base that gradually narrows into a sharp point. A narrow stem connects the wide base to the center of the dial. The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Chronograph provides an example of alpha watch hands. 

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Chronograph

Arrow

Arrow hands are rather self-explanatory. At the end of the hand is an arrow, either large or small. The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m Co-Axial Master Chronometer offers a large arrow example. 

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m Co-Axial Master Chronometer 43.5m

Baton

Baton-styled hands are long and straight, and this style of hand can end in a point, a rounded edge, or sharp corners. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin uses rounded baton hands. 

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin

Breguet

Breguet hands, named after famous watchmaker Abraham Louis Breguet, are typically found on dress watches. This style features a long narrow hand with a decorative circle near the end of the watch. The Patek Philippe Grand Complication watch provides an example of a Breguet hand. This hand is also referred to as the Moon hand. 

Patek Philippe Grand Complications 5078

Cathedral

Cathedral hands are one of the most ornate-style hands. The hour hand includes an onion-like shape near the end of the hand. Because of its large size, the hour hand has enough room for a stained glass-window design. The Longines Heritage 1918 provides just one example of a Cathedral hand. 

Longines Heritage 1918

Dauphine

Dauphine hands are rather common, and they feature a wide, tapered style. Some dauphine hands include a facet that runs down the middle, similar to a sword. However, other dauphine hands are flat. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute features faceted dauphine hands. 

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute

Lance

Lance hands are similar to alpha hands, but the base of the hand is significantly more narrow. This style of hand, with its sharp end, is shaped similarly to the lances that were used by medieval knights and soldiers. The A. Lange and Sohne Lange 1 Moon Phase provides a few examples of the lance hand.  

A Lange and Sohne Lange 1 Moon Phase

Leaf

As the name suggests, leaf hands are shaped similar to leaves. The middle of the hand is wider while the beginning and end are narrow. Some leaf hands are more pronounced than others. The IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar provides an example of a leaf hand. 

IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar

Pencil

The pencil hand earned its name from the common writing utensil. This style of hand features long, straight edges that end in a sharp point, similar to a pencil. An example of a pencil hand is shown on the Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days watch

Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days

Skeleton

Skeleton hands come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The one trait that every skeleton hand has is that it is partially see through. Hublot is known for their skeleton hands and dials, and the Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Power Reserve 5 Days is just one example. 

Hublot Big Bang Tourbillon Power Reserve 5 Days

Stick

Stick hands are long and skinny. These hands appear most often on dress watches because they provide simple, clean lines. The Patek Philippe Calatrava shown below is one example of a watch with stick hands. 

Patek Philippe Calatrava

Sword

Sword hands are wide large hands that offer quite a bit of space for lume. These hands, similar to swords, feature a narrow base that quickly widens. At the end of the hand is a sharp point. This Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso provides a good example of sword hands. 

Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso
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