Needle (watchmaking)

In watchmaking terms, a needle 1 is a piece of metal composed of two or more parts, the main function of which is to transmit the indication of the time of movement to the marks of the dial .


The “body” is the main part of the needle, which springs from the center to its extremity.

The “center” consists of a hole called “center hole”, in which is a vertical pivot intended to be riveted on the pinion of the wheel of the indication of the corresponding time.

The “counterweight” is intended to counterbalance the weight of the needle body, mainly the second hand that is the longest. When it is needed (mainly in quartz movements), it is located at the back of the center hole. The against-weight may also be present for purely aesthetic reasons 2 .


The needles are an integral part of the aesthetics of the watch , according to the current watchmaking marketing (“Corporate Identity” of the watch brand).

Thus, each needle model is not only specific to the size and model of the watch because of its technical dimensions and tolerances, but also by its aesthetic termination, in harmony with the style of the dial, case and so on.


The first needle factory in Switzerland was founded in 1812: “Wagnon Frères” in Geneva. The founder is Charles Wagnon; his little son Ami Wagnon exposes their products in Paris in 1878 and 1889, in Zurich in 1883, Chicago in 1893. Some 400 kinds of different needles are manufactured in 1896 by the house Wagnon 3 . There were up to sixty such factories, and only ten at the beginning of xxi th century 4 .

The oldest watch-making factory still operating in Switzerland is Fiedler SA in Carouge , founded in 1848 in Geneva by Valentin Leisenheimer 3 , 5 .

The watch hands are made from strips of metal. More than twenty manufacturing steps are required, depending on the product: pre- drilling of the “gun hole” (location of the future axis), “gunning” by stamping , raising the gross surface by “diamond” a cutter diamond), cutting of the needle punching , riveting , finish, “hits” from the head and body of the needle, “brightening” ( polishing ), setting color plating bath or “opening” packaging , Checking, packing 6 .

Notes and references

  1. ↑ See B.- Small precision mechanics.  [ Archive ] , on the site, accessed on February 21, 2015
  2. ↑ ” History of the needle [ archive ] , on , Aiguilla SA (accessed 7 October 2016 ) .
  3. a and b John Aubert, ” Through the groups: Watchmaking (Group 1) XII Dials, needles, mirrors; Conclusion,Journal of Geneva ,, P.  1-2 ( read online  [ archive ] ). Special issue, series of articles published on the occasion of the 1896 Geneva National Exhibition .
  4. ↑ ” Needle watch definition [ archive ] , Watchmaker dictionary , on (accessed7 October 2016 ) .
  5. ↑ ” Fiedler Horlogerie “, PME Magazine ,, P.  68 ( lire online  [ Archive ] ).
  6. ↑ ” Manufacture [ archive ] , , Fiedler SA (accessed 6 October 2016 ) .

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