10 Different Types of Watch Indices (Hour Markers)

What are the different types of watch indices? 

Are you not sure where to start when it comes to deciding which type of index is best for you?

This blog post will help you discover which types of watch indices are on offer, and will help you discover which you might like best.

Different Types of Watch Indices

  1. Arabic Numerals
  2. Roman Numerals
  3. Breguet Numerals
  4. Baton Indices
  5. Stick Markers
  6. Dagger/Dauphine Indices 
  7. Round Markers
  8. Arrow Markers
  9. Diamond Markers
  10. Square Markers

Or jump to our Watch Indices Comparison Chart to get a quick look at each type.

What are indices on a watch?

The indices on a watch indicate the hours on your watch.

The indices are symbols around the dial of your watch. Paired with the hands, they tell you what time it is.

Indices come in many different types. Including the Roman numerals, Arabic numerals, and more!

Watches come with a combination of these indices too. Baton indices and Arrow markers are a common pair found on Rolex watches.

Hour Markers or Indices?

Both terms mean the same thing. Both hour markers and indices can be used to describe the symbols around your dial, that indicate the hours on your watch.

We use both terms interchangeably throughout our Which Watch Next site.

If you want to learn more common watch terminology then check out our glossary of watch terms.

1. Arabic Numerals

Swatch watch featuring Arabic numerals watch indices
Swatch (Image : Swatch)

Arabic numerals are a type of indices on your watch that use numbers; 1, 2, 3 etc.

Arabic numerals are the most common symbols for numbers today. In watches, they can either be placed on each hour’s position or mixed with other types of markers. 

It’s also common for watchmakers to place Arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock positions. Then fill in the rest of the numbers with different types of watch indices. Like Round indices for example.

2. Roman Numerals

Cartier watch featuring Roman numerals watch indices
Santos de Cartier (Image : Cartier)

Roman numerals use symbols to represent the indices of your watch. Symbols like; I, II, III etc.

These hour markers often give the watch a more vintage aesthetic. They give the watch a more classier and elegant appearance.

You may notice that the Roman numeral number 4 (IV) is written differently on a watch. Look at the dial of the Cartier Santos watch, and you’ll see the number 4 written as IIII instead of IV.

3. Breguet Numerals

Breguet watch featuring Breguet numerals watch indices
Breguet (Image : Breguet)

Breguet numerals are Arabic numerals that are stylized with extra strokes and flourishes. 

Breguet numerals were designed by the legendary watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet. He created them in 1790, just before the French Revolution.

They aren’t the most common indices around today. However, they are still seen on many watches. 

They are of course regularly featured on the watches of the French brand, Breguet.

4. Baton Indices

Timex watch featuring Baton indices
Q Timex 1975 (Image : Timex)

Baton indices are rectangular shaped hour markers. They can vary in length and also in thickness too. 

They’re very similar to Stick markers, and these two types of indices are often used interchangeably. However, Baton indices are thicker and shorter than Stick markers.

You’ll find Baton indices on many sport or dive watches. As they are easy to read and great for luminosity. 

Yet you do see Baton indices used on dressier watches too. Like the American watch brand Timex’s timepiece pictured above.

5. Stick Markers

Orient Bambino watch featuring Stick markers
Orient Bambino Version 3 (Image : Orient)

Stick markers are very similar to Baton indices. Except Stick markers are longer and also very thin.

Like Baton indices, Stick markers are often coupled with hash marks. Hash marks are the small indices that mark out the minutes on your watch’s dial.

Stick markers are most often seen on dress watches. But you can also see them on other watch styles too. They are great for adding a minimalist look to a watch’s dial.

They are especially used on Bauhaus style watches. As seen on the Orient Bambino Version 3 watch pictured above.

6. Dagger/Dauphine Indices

Patek Philippe watch featuring Dagger/Dauphine indices
Patek Philippe Calatrava (Image : Patek Philippe)

Dagger or Dauphine indices are distinctive and are most often found on dress watches. As they have a very dressy and elegant look to them.

They are triangular-shaped and sharp indices. The sharp end can either point inwards or outwards from the dial.

They come in different variations; sometimes they’re flat but more often they’re faceted. 

They aren’t common watch indices. However, you will see them being used more in watches produced by luxury watchmakers. Such as Patek Philippe pictured above.

7. Round Markers

Seiko Turtle watch featuring round markers
Seiko Turtle (Image : Seiko)

One of the most common shapes for hour markers on a watch dial are Round indices. 

Round indices tend to be very legible, that’s why they are often used in sports watches and on dive watches too.

We see Round indices being paired with a combination of Baton indices or Arrow markers.

The Seiko Turtle dive watch pictured above, has been paired with very thick Arrow markers.

8. Arrow Markers

Rolex Submariner watch featuring arrow markers
Rolex Submariner (Image : Rolex)

These types of watch indices look like an upside-down triangle. With the pointy end pointing towards the center of the watch.

An Arrow marker often only appears at the 12 o’clock position. You don’t usually see anymore than four Arrow markers on a dial.

An Arrow marker is then combined with different types of watch indices. Often a combination of Baton indices and Round markers.

They are excellent for improving readability. Making the 12 o’clock position stand out from the rest of the indices. When there is just one of the dial.

This type of watch indices are most commonly seen on the watches of Swiss watch brands; Rolex and Tudor.

9. Diamond Markers

Rolex Datejust watch featuring diamond markers
Rolex Datejust (Image : Rolex)

Diamond hour markers are a beautiful way to decorate your watch and add some bling. Diamonds, rubies, or even sapphires can be used for this purpose.

Watchmakers often use diamond markers in luxury watches for both men or women.

Rolex’s legendary Datejust dress watch uses diamond indices on some of their models to great effect. Making these dress watches even more expensive.

10. Square Markers

Tudor Pelagos watch featuring square markers
Tudor Pelagos (Image : Tudor)

Square indices are probably the rarest of the watch indices.

The Tudor Pelagos watch is the most popular example of a watch with Square indices. This watch hour marker is hard to find on other watches from other watch brands.

Tudor combines their Square indices with Baton Arrow markers. At the 12, 6, and 9 o’clock positions.

Square indices make for an original and very cool looking watch dial.

Watch Indices Comparison Chart

Compare all the different types of watch indices included in this blog post, on our handy indices comparison chart below.

Different Types of Indices (Hour Markers)Example
Arabic Numerals
Roman Numerals
Breguet Numerals
Baton Indices
Stick Markers
Dagger/Dauphine Indices
Round Markers
Arrow Markers
Diamond Markers
Square Markers

To Sum Up

From the common Round indices to Arabic numerals, and numerals from Breguet. There’s a wide range of different types of watch indices that can feature on your watch.

Watch case shapes are another feature that vary from watch to watch.

Learn about the top 12 different watch case shapes you’ll find nowadays.