The most common watches leverage three hands of different shape or size to measures the passage of time. The three hands indicate the hour, minutes and seconds. However, there exist many other variations that can help measuring time in different ways (e.g. stopwatches). Among those different types of watches there is one that is very peculiar, the single hand watch.  As the name says, this watch has only one hand to measure the passage of time and it generally indicates the hour. 

This method of measuring the passage of time is not new. The first clocks, in fact, were indicating only one measure. Think about the sundials, the clepsydra and the hourglass. They all show one single measure. Obviously, it is possible to indicate or read fractions of that measure, but it will not be very precise. The modern one-hand watches are a re-interpretation of that original clocks. So why it is so famous?

There are several reasons why the single hand watches are now more common and requested, but let’s see how it all started. As in fashion, special items are created by daring designers and then used by the so called “early adopters”. Both kind of people are unconventional and are not concerned about being different to stand for something. Overtime, those items might be then adopted by a broader public or abandoned and the outcome depends on many factors. In the case of the one-hand watches the trend is still there and judgmentally, based on the number of new models introduced by the up-and-coming new watch brands, it seems that more people are getting into this peculiar watch.

This new trend might be credited to a designer and to a brand. The designer is Klaus Botta who introduced the UNO in 1986 and the brand is Slow Watches that introduced the first model in 2013. The reason why we associate the trend with them is that while the designer created the first modern take of one-hand watches, it was still relatively limited in terms of awareness and adoption. On the other hand, Slow Watches has been able to “democratize” the single-hand watches thanks to a great marketing campaign and execution. 

Botta Design Slow Watches

Being successful as Botta Design and Slow Watches is really a great achievement because they had to overcome two customer’s barriers. The first one being about moving from a traditional 12 hour watch to a 24 hour watch and the second being about the possibility to read only hours and no minutes or seconds. The difference between the two of them resides, however, on the main customer target and communication message. Both companies talk about the different approach to time and both offer unique designs. Botta Design did focus on the design of the watch hence has primary target they most likely had trend setters, designers, people that want to set themselves apart. On the other hand, Slow Watches focused on the different approach to time, hence their primary customer were all the people tired about the fast pace of life, the ones who wanted to go back to really appreciate time. Different primary customer target and different communication that led to two different yet both successful results. 

Since then many new brands created their single hand model, some successfully other less successfully, and in parallel both Botta Design and Slow Watches explored other alternatives (e.g. TRES 24 by Botta Design, Slow Watches Automatic) in order to further expand their customer base.

Over time people kept buying those watches, but why? There is a class of people who do need 24 hour watches for their lifestyle (Club 24) and among them some might appreciate the single hand. There is also another group of people who buys into the single hand watch just because it is different, and it is trendy. Finally, there are the people that do believe that looking at time on a 24 hour watch with one single hand can really change your perception of time.

Wondering whether this trend will continue? It all depends. Trends, by definition, don’t last forever; they might disappear and then come back but they generally don’t last. In this specific case, customers need to change habit in order to adopt this product and this is a big barrier to overcome. The reason why they do that is because they are made aware of the alternative and they are convinced that the alternative better suit their needs. Once the companies stop creating awareness and convincing about the change then the trend will stop. Conversely if they keep fueling than the trend will keep going. 

If you are still evaluating whether purchasing one or not, maybe you want to take our below quiz. This will help you understanding whether you need a 24 hour watch in the first place then you’ll decide whether with one, two, three or even four hands.

cover image credit here


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