Different Types of Watch Indices

watch indices

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What Are Watch Indices?

Watch indices are the markers on the dial of the watch which denote the hours around the dial. You may not have given them much thought before. In this artcle we list the most commonly used types of watch indices you’ll see on watches today.

Whilst we don’t take much notice of the indices – I could bet that you can’t recall, without looking, what the indices on the watch you are wearing right now look like – but it is surprising how different styles of indices can give a watch a completely different look. 

It’s not uncommon for a watch dial to have a mixture of indices. Here we list the most used indices.

Watch indices can be either applied – which is where the marker is adhered to the dial with jewellers glue – or painted. Painted indices are generally more cost-effective and may not be as durable, although applied indices can fall off, particularly if your watch is dropped.

Many watch indices can be luminescent – helping to standing out in dim light conditions, during the night or under water.

If any of the indices inside your watch has become loose, please read our blog here on what to do and how it can be fixed.

Types of Watch Indices

Arabic Indices

With Arabic number watch indices number 1 through to 12 or sometimes just the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions are marked on the dial; or just the 12 position is marked.  Arabic numbers are clear, easy to read and look very classic. 

Roman Numerals

These were used before Arabic indices and use Latin numbers.  They lend themselves to retro and classic-looking watches, with an elegant, old-fashioned quality-watch look.  Again sometimes each hour is marked with its equivalent roman numeral,  sometimes just the four quarter markers of 3, 6 9 and 12 o’clock.

Diamond or CZ Indices.

Bulova Dress Watch 98L266

Here a gemstone is placed to mark each hour mark on the dial. These are used as an attractive way of marking out the dial. Initially used on luxury watches with diamonds, they are now used on many watches where crystals are used in place of diamonds.


Baton watch indices are a rectangular-shaped marker and are a little wider than stick indices (shown below). They often allowed luminosity to be added to the shape, as so have been favoured on sport’s and divers watches so that the appearance of batons can now give a watch a sporty look.

Stick Indices 

Fossil Men's Chronograph Quartz Watch with Stainless Steel Strap FS4931

Stick Indices on an Fossil Watch – Amazon

These are similar to batons only narrower.  They give a more elegant look than batons and are therefore often used on dress watches.

Dagger Indices

Orient Men Analog Japanese Automatic Watch with Leather Strap FAC08004D0

Dagger Indices on an Orient Watch – Amazon

Dagger watch indices were displayed on older Rolex watches and are seen on some luxury watches and look-alike brands. As the name suggests these indices have a pointed look towards the centre of the dial and the indices are often faceted.

Dot Indices

Like the baton markers, round indices lend themselves to being luminous, therefore are easily read. Many Rolex watches have round indices with the 12 marker being the Rolex crown.

To Sum Up …

There are many more indices used on watches, some very traditional, which you rarely see and we haven’t included them here. If you are interested in the names of the other parts of a watch, please see our article here.

If we have missed any that you think should be added, please do let us know.

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