The Nicknames of Watch Hands: Part One

Notable Watch Hands and Their Nicknames

Watchmakers are quite possibly some of the most detail-oriented artisans in the world. When you start to dissect the nuances of watches, the intricacies you’ll find might astound you. One example is the watch hands. Yes, the hands are one of the most functionally important aspects of a timepiece because they actually indicate the time. However, watch hands are also a stylistic element. There are dozens of unique ways watchmakers can design watch hands. Over centuries of the art form, there are certain styles that have become prominent, and each has in fact garnered its own moniker. Here, in the first of a two part series, we’ll introduce you to a selection of watch hands and their nicknames.


An OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean with Broad Arrow hands

You’ll find a number of watch hands are nicknamed for their shape. One example of this is arrow hands. As the name suggests, they feature a pointer in the style of an arrow. Likewise, watchmakers design these hands for at-a-glance timekeeping. While they’re highly legible, they’re also typically more bulky and bold in size and appearance. You’ll most often find arrow hands on technical or sport watches, like the OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean.


A gold case, white dial Breguet with blue Breguet hands

Other watch hands get their nicknames from their creators. Similarly, Abraham-Louis Breguet, founder of his namesake brand, designed the Breguet hands back in the late 18th century. These elegant and delicate hands feature a ring and a point at the end. The center of the ring is hollow in a way that resembles a crescent moon. For this reason, Breguet hands have a number of other nicknames. Some examples include moon, crescent moon, hollow apple, or pomme, which means apple in French. Of course, you can find this style on a number of Breguet watches, like the Classique.


A JLC dress watch with a moonphase and gold case with Dauphine watch hands

Dauphine hands are one of the most common and most popular styles. However, their nickname is a bit of a mystery. Many say their name originates from a French monarch’s son. Others say that because “Dauphine” is feminine, it was in fact his wife. Their traditional design features an elongated triangle shape that’s tapered at the tip and faceted along its length. There are also a number of variations of the Dauphine hands. For example, some are flat while others taper, like on this JLC version. They also come in an array of finishes to enhance their legibility.


A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Flyback with lance watch hands

Lance hands get their name from the weapon once used by knights and horsemen. The hands feature a similar shape from the instrument for which they draw their name. Their design has a long shaft, wider base, and narrow, pointed head. This A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Flyback has a luminescent version.


The OMEGA Seamaster with lollipop hands

Like arrow hands, lollipop hands are nicknamed for their shape. Their design resembles the iconic candy treat, featuring a long stick with a circle at the tip. Depending on the particular watch, the circle may be open or filled. The OMEGA Seamaster is just one example of a model that features this style hands.


The iconic Rolex Submariner in black with mercedes hands

The three-pointed star that makes up the Mercedes-Benz logo is one of the most instantly recognizable insignias around the world. In contrast, the Mercedes style hand does not indicate an affiliation between a particular watch model and the famed car manufacturer. However, the Mercedes symbol is where Mercedes hands get their nickname. Rolex is the purveyor of Mercedes hands. They typically only feature the design on the hour hand and additionally, they often treat it with luminescent paint. This helps to distinguish the hour hand in low-light visibility. You’ll find this style on the iconic Submariner.


A Blancpain Fifty Fathoms with Paddle Hands

Similar to the arrow and lollipop hands, paddle hands get their shape and nickname from the paddle itself. They feature a straight design with a wider rectangle toward the end and a pointer at the tip. One example of a watch equipped with paddled hands is the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms.


A gold case, white dial Patek Philippe with stick hands

Just as the nickname suggests, stick hands are much like stick hour markers. These long, slim, and straight hands typically feature a blunt edge. You’ll most often find this design used on dress watches, like a Glashütte Original or Patek Philippe Calatrava.


watch hands: Royal Oak with baton hands

Baton hands are similar to stick hands. They are long and straight, but they are thicker and have a more imposing presence. You will find these most often on a watch like the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.


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Caitlyn is the founder of Grey Ghost, a New York City-based boutique content marketing agency with a passion for artists, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and startups. She believes in quality over quantity, creative thinking, and, above all, using language as powerful tool to build lasting connections.

Latest comment
  • Wow.. It’s so interesting! I never thought that the watch hands could also have nicknames. The symbol on the Rolex hour hand look familiar to me, but today, I got to know the reason. Thank you for the article!