What Is A One Handed Watch And Why Get One?!

A one handed watch is a very distinct looking timepiece. It is sometimes called a single handed watch or one hand watch. Maybe you have never heard of, or seen one, but they do, in fact, exist! Some of them can be found in the luxury watch niche, while others are much less expensive, and are worn merely for their aesthetic appeal.

We all know that traditional mechanical watches have 3 hands: a minute, hour, and second hand. But the one handed watch differs from a traditional watch because of one striking feature. It has: You guessed it…..1 hand!

Now this may seem like an awfully inconvenient feature for a watch to have. First, wouldn’t it be a pretty big disadvantage for a watch to have only one hand? That doesn’t seem to give it any real benefit. And second, how exactly do you even tell the time on a watch that has only one hand? You are probably wondering why a watch would be made to only have one hand in the first place.

We will answer all of these questions and more as we discuss everything you need to know about the mysterious one handed watch! The very first, and most important thing to cover, however, is how to tell time on a single handed watch!

How Do You Tell The Time On A Single Handed Watch?

So obviously, telling time on a single handed watch is going to be a bit different from how you tell time on a traditional mechanical watch.

First off, it does feature a 12 hour dial like a normal watch. On a single handed watch, however, there are always going to be 144 markers. Every one of these points stands for 5 minutes.

On how to tell the time it’s actually pretty straightforward. If you know that each marker represents 5 minutes, then it is very easy to tell the time. All you have to do is just count each point as being 5 minutes from whatever hour marker you are on. It’s that simple! Most feature a bold marker in every 15 minute interval to make it easier for you. Next, we’ll take a look at how these types of watches came to be.

Single Handed Timekeeping In History

The origin of single handed time keeping can be traced back to the pocket watch. When pocket watches were first introduced in the 16th century, they only contained 1 hand, which was the hour hand.

Even most clock towers only made use of a single hand for keeping track of time. A lot of this was due in part because a clock tower’s time had to be viewable from great distances away. By having just one hand, it could cut back on misreading errors due to mistaking the hour and minute hands.

It wasn’t until clocks started to become more accurate that a focus was then placed on minute and second hands. This didn’t occur until around 1690. It was at this time that both pendulum, and anchor escapement mechanisms started being used to tell time more precisely. Then of course, these features made their way into pocket watches, and eventually wristwatches, when they started gaining popularity.

Single Handed Watches In Modern Times

The single handed watch has found its way into modern times as well. There are a few brands out there that are known for producing one handed watches. Some good examples of this include watch brands such as MeisterSinger, which specializes in luxury watches, and Slow, for the more affordable options.

These brands, and others help to keep the torch burning for one handed watches. Since this is such a niche market, it can oftentimes be difficult to know where to purchase these types of watches.

Are There Any Advantages To Using A One Handed Watch?

Now that we have covered how to read a one handed watch, and a little of the history behind these watches, it is time to talk about why a person would want to get one. There are some pros and cons to using one handed watch.


Minimalist Style

There are at least a couple of good reasons for why you would want a single handed watch. The first, is how minimalist a one handed watch is. Since it only possesses one hand, it is free from the clutter of the minute and second hands. Some people may prefer this, at a glance, since there is only one hand to keep track of at any given time.

Aesthetic Appeal

The second reason, and most relevant in today’s times for why someone would want a single handed watch is for the aesthetic appeal. The one handed design offers very distinct and unique look, which can definitely be a conversation starter! Many people have never even seen a one handed watch before, so the uniqueness of it may be the draw for some.



The number 1 negative aspect of the single handed watch is its accuracy. Because it lacks a minute and second hand, it is not going to be as accurate as your standard mechanical watch. When taking a quick glance at the watch to see the time, while you will get a good approximation of the time, you could still be off by as much as a few minutes.

Final Thoughts: Is a One Handed Watch For You?

In this article, we’ve explored a little bit of the rich history behind the single handed watch. If you ever had any questions about these types of watches, then hopefully this article has helped to answer at least some or all of those questions.

While single handed watches are very unique in their design and aesthetics, they are definitely not going to appeal to everyone. Some people may find the look off putting. Others may adore this design choice. It really just comes down to an individual’s own personal preferences.

For now, though single handed watches are here to stay. If you are in the category of people who like the look of it, then there are plenty of different styles and options available for purchase.

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1 thought on “What Is A One Handed Watch And Why Get One?!”

  1. You left out my main reason for wanting a watch with a single hand. My reason for wanting a single hand watch is if someone asks me the time, I can say, “it’s around 2:30-ish.”
    If I need to be somewhere on time I have a mobile and a vehicle.
    After working for almost 50 years, I just retired. No more being surrounded by technology. Just me, the wife, the dog, the garden, some fishing, maybe teach my 6-year-old grandson how to sail.


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