A watch’s hands are a focal point of its design. From a Tudor’s snowflake to the Mercedes motif on a Rolex and the syringe styling of a Sinn, you can often tell the provenance of a watch face from the styling of the hands.
One of the most striking features of the Spitfire cockpit clock is its intricate cathedral hands. The name derives from the elegant segments that are reminiscent of a church’s stained glass windows – and it was a popular aesthetic of early 20th century timepieces.
As such, they still feature on a range of vintage-inspired watches, particularly those based on military and aviation timepieces. Not surprisingly, it’s a look we’re particularly fond of at Sidewinder – and the gold and Old Radium hands on our Spitfire often draw admiring comments. But as watch lovers, we’re happy to share other brands that do an exceptional job of incorporating cathedral hands in their designs.
In no particular order, here are five of our favourites:
The Oris Big Crown: The cathedral hand features heavily in the Big Crown range. We’re particular fans of the Pointer Date series with its choice of gold and silver hands. Prices range from around £1,500 to £2,000.
Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot Pioneer: With its railtrack chapter ring and Arabic numerals set against a black face, it’s a watch that shares a very similar aesthetic to the Sidewinder Spitfire. The Hamilton is inspired by the Model 23 pocket watch used by US soldiers during WWII and retails for around £900.
Christopher Ward ‘Al Deere’: This 100-piece limited edition was a beauty. Based on the Spitfire’s MKI face, it was strikingly similar to the Sidewinder’s MKII design and shared its 44mm diameter and black casing. Priced at £2,995, it featured a piece of metal from the engine of flying ace Al Deere’s MK1 Spitfire.
Longines Heritage Military Automatic: Few watch manufacturers offer a better combination of craftsmanship, beauty and value than Longines. Their heritage range features many stand-out designs, and this model is no exception. Its off-white cathedral hands are the perfect complement to the 1918-era numerals. The watch retails for around £1,200.
Zenith Pilot Type 20: A 45mm watch with an oversized onion crown and big, bold numerals, the Zenith sure makes a statement. Zenith created the very first pilot watches back in 1903 and prices for the Pilot Type 20 with cathedral hands start from around £6,000.