22 Watch Hands Every Collector Should Know, From Rolex’s Lightning Bolt to Omega’s Rocket Ship

This cartoonishly large arrow represents one of the great moments in watch-hand history. What I appreciate about hand design is how they can often be used to trace back to the birth of a landmark timepiece or become the distinguishing detail on a coveted vintage watch. The Broad Arrow combines both of those elements.

“The Broad Arrow hands, referring principally to the large radium luminous arrow-shaped hour hand, are most closely associated with the trilogy of sports models released by Omega in 1957,” said Sacha Davidoff, an expert on all things Speedies and one half of beloved vintage shop Roy & Sacha Davidoff. “They released the Speedmaster CK2915, Railmaster CK2914, and Seamaster 300 CK2913 the same year, which are often called the ‘holy trinity.’ Today, we most often associate the term Broad Arrow with the Speedmaster. Before its association with NASA in 1964, the Speedmaster stood alone as the first chronograph wristwatch with a tachymeter scale on its bezel. Previously, this feature was printed on the periphery of dials. This hand design is not only a nickname for the first series of Speedmasters but also symbolizes the birth of one of the most iconic wristwatches in the world. In practice, these hands were not useful for legibility, were complicated to craft, and massive compared to any other hand on the market. They were quickly phased out by Omega towards the end of 1959. However, aesthetically, they are bold and impressive, and symbolically they represent one the most significant events for Omega collectors.”

Although they might not have lasted long in Omega’s lineup, takes on the chunky arrow are seen on other recognizable watches like the Longines Comet or some versions of Rolex’s Explorer II.

The Vanilla (i.e., Common and Dull)

Baton (or Stick)

The watch hand that would most fit in a kindergarten classroom: This is a…rectangle! Baton hands are some of the most commonly used, especially among modern pieces. They’re most closely associated with Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual—simple hands for a simple watch.

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