Look at the hands explained and peeled


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In analog clocks, they are the ones that indicate the passage of time. Hours, minutes, sometimes even seconds, every little detail counts, and what may seem obvious has a very precise explanation. Mr Watch tells you all about what revolves around needles.

The term second hand

Also called ” small second “, It corresponds to the hand that indicates the seconds in a clock. Its name refers to the verb” jogging “Thus referring to the movement of the horse, because it advances in shakes, like small jumps made from one second to another at the speed of the oscillations of the pendulum. Perform 60 jumps per minute.

We distinguish the ” large second hand », Fixed in the center of the dial of classic watches, generally thinner than the other two hour / minute hands. In chronographs, we talk about ” small second hand », With a smaller needle, placed on a sub-dial.

The size of the minute hand

Look at the explained and dissected hands


A detail that you have probably noticed; the minute hand is always longer than the hour hand. This size offers a better readability since the minute graduations are placed around the periphery of the dial and the needle can point precisely towards each of them.

  • Small hand: hours
  • Big hands: minutes
  • Second hand: seconds

The number of hands on a clock.

Look at the explained and dissected hands


Most watch models include at least two hands, namely the hour and minute hands. They can also include a third hand to indicate the second, the second hand. For GMT / UTC watches there is a fourth hand to indicate a second time zone.

Look at the explained and dissected hands

Some brands are innovating by offering one-handed watches that offer an original, contemporary and refined look. However, contrary to popular belief, the single needle was there first and a second was added much later, at the end of 17.º century.

Look at the explained and dissected hands

Needle placement

In general, the hands are in the center of the dial and rotate as the hours, minutes and seconds pass. However, it happens in certain models that the hands are off-center and positioned differently, to offer a more original look or to highlight another element of the watch.

Look at the explained and dissected hands

Needle rotation

The hands turn from left to right and have even given rise to the expression “clockwise.” But why then this meaning and not vice versa?

To understand clockwise, you must return to the measurement tools for the first time, around 1500 a. C. The sundial was created in the northern hemisphere. The offset of the shadow of the bar called ” style “, Allowed to read the time. In this part of the globe, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, creating a movement from left to right on the dial, a movement that was then maintained to determine the direction of the hands in the clocks

Nicolas Forni

Passionate about watchmaking, I launched Mr Watch at the end of 2015! Join me and discover new brands and follow the latest news from the world of watchmaking.