Watch Hour Marker Types

different watch hour markers indices types

Aside from its function, a watch’s design is the most important consideration when buying a timepiece. The case, bezel, dial, and all the other parts of the watch anatomy all come together to form a watch’s aesthetic.

Although they consist a tiny part of the watch, indices or hour markers are carefully chosen during the design process in order to help define a watch’s character. They may be a minor consideration when choosing a watch, but they do have a major impact on the look of the dial and overall appearance of the timepiece.


Here’s a rundown of all kinds of watch markers, from simple to ornate.


Big Pilot with arabic watch marker type


Arabic numerals form the most common symbols for numerals today. In watches, they can either be placed on each hour’s position or be combined with other types of hour markers. Arabic numerals are often placed on the 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock positions when mixed with other marker types.

photo: IWC Big Pilots 46mm Black Dial



Datejust with baton hour marker type


Baton hour markers are rectangular shaped markers that can either be painted on or “applied” or sitting on the surface of the dial. Baton markers tend to be thinner on vintage and dress watches and thicker on sports watches.

photo: Rolex Datejust 36 Steel White Gold Tapestry Dial



Tortue with roman numeral hour marker type


Roman numerals were the usual way of writing numbers up until the Late Middle Ages. Formed by letters of the alphabet, these can either be in Serif (with tail) or Sans Serif (without tail), and are most often used for dressier types of watches.

photo: Cartier Tortue CPCP Privee Rose Gold



GMT Master Batman with round hour markers


Round hour markers tend to be very legible, that’s why they are often used in sports watches. They are also often treated with luminescence for optimal visibility in low light situations. Popular examples of watches with round markers are Rolex sport watches (Submariner, GMT Master, and Explorer), and often they are combined with arrow and baton markers.

photo: Rolex GMT Master II Black Blue Batman Steel Watch



Datejust Diamond with diamond hour markers


Whereas other hour markers serve a functional purpose, diamond hour markers are geared toward aesthetics. Diamond hour markers are usually combined with other diamond accents, such as diamond bezels, to add sparkle to a watch. Other precious stones such as rubies and sapphires are also used in place of diamonds.

photo: Rolex Datejust Steel Yellow Gold Blue Vignette Diamond Dial Watch



Heritage Black Bay with arrow hour markers


Arrow markers are most commonly seen in Rolex and Tudor watches, usually on the 12 o’clock position. These are usually pointing down to the center of the watch and are combined with round and baton hour markers as seen here.

photo: Tudor Heritage Black Bay GMT Pepsi



Portofino with stick hour markers


Stick hour markers are much thinner versions of the baton. They can either be painted on or applied. The long and thin shape of these markers give the dial a sleek and refined look, so they are most often seen in dress watches.

photo: IWC Portofino 8 Days Power Reserve Silver Dial



Calatrava Breguet with breguet hour markers


Breguet numerals, as the name suggests, were developed by famed watchmaker Abraham Louis Breguet himself. They appeared in timepieces just before the French Revolution, and are characterized by elegant, calligraphy-style Arabic numerals. These graceful numerals are often seen in dress watches, and are not exclusive to Breguet timepieces.

photo: Patek Philippe Calatrava 5026R



Pelagos with square hour markers


Square hour markers are quite obscure and rarely seen in watches. The most popular example would be the Tudor Pelagos, whose sqaure markers are combined with an arrow marker at 12 o’clock and baton markers at 6 and 9 o’clock.

photo: Tudor Pelagos 42mm LHD Titanium Steel Watch



Calatrava Dauphine with dagger hour markers


Dagger or dauphine hour markers are sharp, triangular-shaped indices that either point inward or outward the dial. Like most watch hands they come in different versions; sometimes they are flat but more often they are faceted. Due to their refined appearance, they are almost exclusively used in dress watches.

photo: Patek Philippe Calatrava Rose Gold Brown Dial Ladies Watch




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