pocket watch hands

In another article, I talked about pocket watch dials, but hands are also a very important part of watch design.

Moreover, it is the most visible part of a watch because it cannot tell the time, which is the original role of a watch, unless you look at the hands.

Various designs and ingenuity have been devised in consideration of not only the design but also the ease of viewing the time.

Typical needle design

Here are some representative items that are often found in antique pocket watches.

1. spade

spade needle

A needle with a spade-shaped tip. Pretty common and seen a lot.
In many pocket watches, only the hour hand is spade-shaped.

double spade needle

In the case of watches with a half-hunter (demi-hunter) case, there are two spades (double spades) so that even when the lid is closed, it is easy to distinguish between the short and long hands through a small window.

2. breguet
breguet needle

It is a hand devised by the legendary genius watchmaker Breguet.
The donut-shaped disk at the tip of the needle makes it highly visible.
This is also a needle often seen in antique pocket watches.

3. Louis
louis needle

It is a needle with a gorgeous atmosphere with a very elaborate design.
Antique ones are hand-carved one by one, not die-cut.
There are Louis XIV needles, Louis XV needles, Louis XVI needles, etc. with differences in fine design.

4. Dolphin/Alpha
dolphin needle

Dolphin: A needle shaped like an extended rhombus. Also called dauphin.
Alpha: A needle shaped like a dolphin with a tapered base.

5. cathedral
cathedral needle

It is a needle with the name of "Cathedral".
There is also a type with a diamond-shaped tip and a hole.

6. butterfly
butterfly needle

It is a needle with a very stylish design in the shape of a butterfly.

7. morning glory
morning glory needle

The needle is designed like a gas lamp.

8. cobra
cobra needle

It is so called because the tip of the hour hand looks like a cobra's head.
Used for military watches, old dress watches, etc.

Bits of knowledge about needles

About needle color

Antique pocket watches are often gold, blue, and black.
Blue needles are called "blue quenching", which is a type of metal that is quenched to create an oxide film on the surface that makes it look blue.

Needle attachment method

There are exceptions for old clocks made before the 19th century, but most of them only have a light point on the center shaft.
It is not connected by glue or welding, and it will not be fixed unless the size of the shaft and the hole are exactly the same.

needle replacement

The hands are very delicate and moving parts, so they are often replaced in the middle of old watches.
However, as explained in "How to install the hands", the hands are fixed with an exquisite fit between the shaft and the hole, so in the case of antique watches with almost no replacement parts left, the design is perfect and can be installed. It is unlikely that you will find a needle for
If the hole is slightly elliptical or rough, some are forcibly attached with adhesive.
There are many cases where the color and design of the hour hand, long hand, and second hand are different or the size is not the same.
There is no engraving on the needle, so it is very difficult to judge whether it is original or not.


The watch expresses various faces by combining dials and hands.
Clock hands are very important parts, but they are delicate and fragile parts.
When adjusting the time, do not turn the dial too quickly.

See our list of pocket watches here