Small Seconds’ Big Moment: Five Watches with Independent Seconds Displays

A watch’s seconds hand is most often staged in the center, playing third wheel to the hours and minutes. Here are a handful of watches in which the seconds display is decentralized and allowed to shine on its own.


Dating back to 1939 and a special timepiece produced specially for Portuguese clients, the Portugieser is one of IWC’s most enduring collections and arguably its most classically elegant. This 40-mm timepiece in an 18k rose-gold case and silver-plated dial makes that case quietly but emphatically, with applied gold Arabic numerals, leaf-shaped gold hands, vintage-style railroad minute track, and a 6 o’clock subdial for the running seconds, traversed by a blued hand. Behind its sapphire exhibition caseback is IWC’s automatic Caliber 82200, equipped with the manufacture’s signature Pellaton winding system and incorporating parts made of virtually wear-proof ceramic, including the pawls and the heart-shaped cam. The movement stores a power reserve of 60 hours and boasts plates and bridges decorated with circular graining and côtes de Genève. Price: $16,900.

IWC Portugieser Automatic (Ref. IW358306)


Patek Philippe added some vintage flair to its flagship Calatrava collection of dress watches with the launch of the Ref. 6119, notable for its use of a guillochéd hobnail pattern known as Clous de Paris on the softly rounded bezel of its 39-mm-diameter rose-gold case. The silvery-grained dial hosts a set of faceted, applied hour markers and dauphine-style hours and minutes hands, also in rose gold, along with a small seconds display at 6 o’clock with a cross-hairs motif in its center. Inside the thin 8.08-mm-thick case beats a manufacture caliber, Patek Philippe’s manually wound 30-255 PS, which amasses a 65-hour power reserve and meets the standards of the Patek Philippe in-house quality seal, meaning a daily accuracy between -3/+2 seconds as well as an array of haute horlogerie decorations, including hand-beveled edges and Geneva stripes on the bridges. Price: $29,570.

Patek Philippe Calatrava Clous de Paris (Ref. 6119)


The historic Swiss watchmaking village of Villeret, where Jehan-Jacques Blancpain founded the maison that still bears his name way back in 1735, lends its name to the modern Blancpain brand’s most classical family of timepieces, including this Jour Date (“Day Date”) model in stainless steel. The 40-mm dress watch features all the primary aesthetic codes of the Villeret collection, including a double-stepped bezel and applied Roman hour numerals and sage-leaf-shaped, openworked hands on the bright white dial. A borderless small seconds subdial sits at 6 o’clock, while the day and date displays are aligned in windows at 3 o’clock. Blancpain’s in-house, self-winding Caliber 1160DD powers the timepiece’s functions, outfitted with a silicon balance spring and offering a frequency of 4 Hz and a power reserve of 72 hours. Visible through a sapphire back, its gold rotor is adorned with a honeycomb guilloché motif. Price: $10,900.

Blancpain Villeret Jour Date (Ref. 6652-1127-55B)


Germany’s Glashütte Original has become known for its bold, asymmetrical designs, and the PanoReserve manages to combine an off-center hour-and-minute display, an overlapping subdial for the independent seconds, the hallmark “Panorama” date and a cleverly imagined metronome-style power-reserve indicator with a baton hand — the latter two functions giving the model its name. The watch’s 40-mm case is in rose gold, its galvanized matte-black dial features applied indices and white printed scales, and its movement, manually wound Caliber 65-01, ticks on full display behind a sapphire caseback. The movement, which stores 42 hours of running autonomy, is crafted in traditional Glashütte fashion, with a decorated three-quarter mainplate, hand-engraved balance bridge and balance cock, a duplex swan’s neck adjustment, blued screws and screwed gold chatons. Price: $20,500.

Glashütte Original PanoReserve (Ref. 1-65-01-29-15-30)


This 39-mm, stainless steel-cased timepiece houses the Japanese luxury watchmaker’s first in-house movement with a small seconds function, the manually wound Caliber 9S63. The seconds display is unusually located at the 9 o’clock position on the domed dial, which slopes slightly to accentuate the slimness of the case. Directly across from the small seconds subdial at 3 o’clock is a power-reserve indicator that shows the status of the movement’s 72-hour running autonomy. Grand Seiko hallmarks abound on the understated dial, including the gracefully faceted applied hour markers and razor-style hour and minute hands. The movement, assembled and adjusted entirely at Grand Seiko’s Studio Shizukuishi in Japan’s Iwate Prefecture, is precise to +5/-3 seconds per day and beats behind a sapphire caseback emblazoned with Grand Seiko’s lion emblem. Price: $6,900.

Grand Seiko Elegance Collection (Ref. SBGK007)
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  1. HJNusbaum

    The UN Marine Chronometer is another with an independent seconds hand and power reserve.

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