watch hands

Watch Hands: Our Ultimate Guide To Watch Hands

Watch hands are one of the most essential parts of any timepiece. Without them, we wouldn’t have a clue what time it is, no matter how good the mechanism and movement might be under the hood.

But what are the hands on a watch and how are they attached? We will be exploring these questions and more as we bring you our ultimate guide to watch hands.

What Are The Hands On A Watch?

watch hands

Watches work a little like a symphony in the fact that the sum of its parts is greater than any one single piece. Although filled with complex movements, something as simple as a watch hand not working can throw the time off. And what good is a watch if it doesn’t tell the time?

The hands, simply, point to the hour markers on watches. Commonly watches have two hands, one for the hours and one for the minutes. A third hand, the second hand, is also a regular feature of many watches.

The Different Types Of Watch Hands

Like many other watch parts, there are tonnes of different watch hand types to personalize any timepiece. We’re going to run through some of the most common watch hands, and a few spectacular ones that everyone should know about.

Arrow Hands

arrow hands

Arrow hands are identified by their arrow-shaped tips and are often found in sport watches. Technical watches also frequently use arrow hands to display the time.

Baton Hands

Baton Hands

Watchmakers opting for a minimalist approach to their design might very well opt for baton hands. These hands are also called stick hands and they are simple, straight hands that have been elongated. Baton hands are commonly found on dress watches but also will be used for railway watches.

Cathedral Hands

Cathedral Hands

Although these hands are more ornate than most, they are commonly found on military watches. It’s simple to see why the name ‘cathedral’ works for these hands thanks to the stained glass-inspired design. Cathedral hands commonly come with larger hour hands and slimmer minute hands.

Dauphine Hands

Dauphine Hands

Dauphine hands are some of the most commonly found on watches around the world thanks to their elegance and simplicity. These hands come in a triangular shape and have a faceted surface to add dimension.

Plongeur Hands

Plongeur Hands

Anyone who has ever owned a diver watch will instantly recognise the plongeur hands. The word ‘plongeur’ is French for ‘diver‘ and they are ideal for those under the water and in need of a quick glance at the time.

Plongeur hands are typically straight and small while the minute hand stands out thanks to its large size, sword shape and colourful finish. It’s common for the minute hand to be a bright shade of orange.

Sword Hands

Sword Hands

Sword hands are another commonly found type of watch hand. They are given their name for their appearance thanks to their similarity to a sword blade. Sword hands bring some elegance to a watch face and brands like Cartier have used them for many years.

Fleur De Lys Hands

Fleur De Lys Hands

Perhaps we have saved the best to last with the Fleur de Lys watch hands. These hands feature the famed Fleur de Lys which has commonly been used by royalty on their coats of arms for centuries. It is an elaborate design that adds a little bit of pomp and ceremony to your wrist.

Why Do Some Watches Have Four Hands?

Sometimes two watch hands won’t cut it and watchmakers throw in a third. The third hand is often the second hand but what about when a fourth is thrown into the mix? Simply put, the fourth hand of a watch is a 24-hour hand.

It can be set to a different time zone so the wearer of the watch will always know what time it is somewhere else. This is commonly used for military watches as soldiers coordinate their movements across different time zones.

The fourth watch hand can also be a reminder of the time back home for anyone on holiday. Similarly, if you have moved away from home to another time zone the fourth hand is a way to keep track of the time where your family are.

How Are Watch Hands Attached?

attaching watch hands

Considering their importance in telling the time, it’s vital that watch hands are attached correctly to ensure accuracy. As many watch movements can be complicated, to say the least, each hand can be attached slightly differently to another. 

However, the basics are similar so we will run you through how watch hands are attached to the movement.

The ‘motion works’ is the area of a watch’s movement that powers the hands. Here, there is a minute wheel and an hour wheel, that, you guessed it, power the minute and hour hands. The hour wheel rotates once every 12 hours while the minute hand rotates every hour. Each watch hand is attached to the corresponding wheel to ensure that everything runs on time.

For the second hand, there is often an additional wheel that powers that movement. Watch movements are very precise and small, so we would only recommend maintaining or replacing your watch hands yourself if you have some experience doing so. Therefore, one piece out of place could throw the whole mechanism off.

Watches At Uniform Wares

Uniform Wares

Our contemporary watches are designed right at the heart of London’s creative home, Shoreditch. They use Swiss engineering to ensure they always run on time and a minimalist approach that offers a timeless appeal.

Our watches can be customised by choosing your favourite strap, to make sure it fits perfectly with your personal style. We offer rubber, suede, and leather watch straps for men and women.

Available worldwide, no matter where you are on the planet we can ship one of our stylish watches to you!

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