Key selection criteria for 24 hour watches

The difference in the evaluation of a 24 hour watch in respect to the more traditional ones is not that dramatic. There are only a couple of elements that are really peculiar and essential to the selection of the best 24 hour models. In this post, we underline all the key criteria that differentiate the 24 hour models produced by the top manufacturers. In fact, because there is not a broad choice of 24 hour watches in the market, there are only few elements that help differentiate them.

We did also investigate blogs and forums and tried to understand which features are deemed more important rather than others by the people passionate about 24 hour watches. For example, it seems that many people ask for a specific position of the midnight sign – some want it at the top, others at the bottom of the dial. Overall there are eight key features that are discussed and used to differentiate one model or brand as opposed to others. 

Finally, before getting into the details, it is worth underlining that, for the purpose of this post, we are considering only the true 24 hour watches and not the GTM ones.  

The fundamental elements that differentiate 24 hour watches are:
1.    Movement Type
2.    Numbering System
3.    Position of Midnight in the Dial
4.    Number of Hands
5.    Date and other Functions
6.    Country of Manufacture
7.    Water Resistance
8.    Type of Glass

Let’s start from the core of the watch, the movement. Despite the availability of automatic movements (e.g. Swiss ETA 2893-2), most of the 24 hour watches are based on a quartz movement (e.g. Ronda 515.24H). There could be many different reasons for this choice that go from the price point to the higher level of precision required for a “denser” marking in the dial.

The most evident differentiating element of 24 hour watches is the dial. Most of them have a 1-24 or 0-23 numbering system and some people have a preference on one over the other. However, we have noticed that there is an even higher demand for watches with a specific position for the midnight indicator. Very rare are the watches with a Double-XII system in which the numbering system is based on reporting twice 1-12 and even more difficult to find watches that indicate both hours and minutes. To our knowledge, Todd & Marlon is the only brand with a Double-XII system that includes also minute numbering system yet with a clean, simple and easy to read design.

The other element quite visible in the dial is the hands and any kind of complication. The trendiest 24 hour watches have only one hand that indicate the hours – those are called “single hand” watches. The main reason for that is that those brands claim that 24 hour watches are for people who are not interested on knowing the exact time and 5 mins early or late should not make the difference in their life – “are you ready to be slow?” one brand claims. Others have generally three hands (Botta Design now offers both versions) as a traditional watch and there are also exceptions such as the Akerfalk watch with two hands (hours and minutes). Finally, some have a date function or other complications, but this is more the exception rather than the rule.

The country of manufacture is very seldom Switzerland in terms of “Swiss Made” official definition. Nonetheless many of them leverage Swiss made movements (e.g. Ronda) and assemble in other geographies. 

The last two differentiating elements are the level of water resistance and the material used for the glass. About half of the models we investigated was marked with a level of water resistance at or below 5atm similarly to the commonly used “dress watches”, while the other half was at or above 10atm water resistance. Conversely in terms of material used for the glass only few use the best quality of sapphire crystal and most of them use mineral glass.

After having done the above investigation we then decided to put it altogether in a quiz format. In this way you can just select what you believe are the important features and identify the Top 3 models that best suits your needs. Most likely you’re not going to find a model that fits 100% your requirements because the limited offer but you’ll see how close you can get.

The brands included in the quiz are: Slow Watches, Glycine, Botta Design, Messerschmitt, No Watch, Raketa, Jacopo Dondi, Fortis, Akerfalk and obviously Todd & Marlon. If you have suggestion for “pure” 24 hour watch watches we should include, then don’t hesitate to comment on this post and we will include.

Now have fun with the 24 hour watch selector and see which one are the Top 3 you should consider in your next purchase.


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