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Time’s Up: 28Types of Clocks Explained

Collage of different types of clocks.

Quicklist: Clocks

  1. Wall
  2. Oversized Wall
  3. Mantel and Tabletop
  4. Maritime and Weather Station
  5. Alarm
  6. Grandfather
  7. Cuckoo
  8. Outdoor
  9. Floor
  10. Pendulum
  11. Digital
  12. Analog
  13. Roman Numerals
  14. Battery Powered
  15. Automatic Chime Shutoff
  16. Radio
  17. Calendar
  18. Musical
  19. Light Sensor
  20. Large Display
  21. Round
  22. Square
  23. Rectangle
  24. Novelty
  25. Atomic
  26. Mechanical
  27. Electric
  28. Quartz Movement

Before clocks were common, the directional concepts for “clockwise” and “counterclockwise” were referred to as “sunwise” and “widdershins,” respectively. “Widdershins” is from the Middle Low German word, weddersinnes,” (meaning “against the way”). The contraction “o’clock,” on the other hand, comes from the 15th-century phrase “stroke of the clock,” which refers to medieval mechanical clocks.

The world’s most accurate clock is the NIST-F1 Cesium Fountain Atomic Clock, located at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado. The F1 won’t lose or gain a second in the next 100 million years.

Different Types of Clock Pictures and Names

Below you will find the different types of clocks for measuring time including:

  • Clock images
  • Types of wall clocks
  • Types of decorative clocks
  • Types of analog clocks
  • Types of digital clocks

A. Types of Clocks with Names

1. Wall

Round wall clock with a black frame and large, bold numbers. Source: Amazon

One of the most popular types of clocks for home or office use is the wall clock. Because they are hung in a visible public area, it’s easy for anybody in the room to glance up and see what time it is.

Unlike other types of clocks that sit on desks, a wall clock is a great way to ensure that everybody knows exactly what time it is and that everybody is on the same schedule.

2. Oversized Wall

Large, modern-style wooden wall clock.Source: Wayfair

Oversized wall clocks are ideal in a number of situations where you want to have the wall clock available for everybody to see the time but need to make sure that it is a little bit larger so that nobody has difficulty seeing it clearly.

One situation where an oversize wall clock is a better choice is when you are hanging the clock in an area where people who have vision problems will be looking at it.

This may include a nursing home or an eye doctor’s office. Another great use of an oversized wall clock is in a particularly large space where people will be sitting far away from the clock and otherwise unable to see the time.

These clocks are also ideal in school settings, as it is easy for the teacher to be able to point at the time and help the students understand how to read a clock.

3. Mantel and Tabletop

Small, wooden tabletop clock.Source: Hayneedle

Unlike wall clocks which are significantly larger and displayed on the wall for everybody to be able to view them, mantel or tabletop clocks are smaller and more private.

These clocks come in a variety of different designs and styles, so you can easily find one that will match the décor of your home or office. They are usually more traditional in style, making them ideal in an office situation due to their classic design.

4. Maritime and Weather Station

Round maritime clock with a deep brown, plastic frame.Source: Wayfair

Not just a great gift for anybody who enjoys nautical design in their home or office, maritime or weather station clocks allow the owner to keep an eye on the weather outside while also knowing the time.

Rather than having separate pieces of equipment to measure the time, the humidity, and the weather, when you opt for a weather station or maritime clock, you will be able to see all of this information in one convenient location.

This is perfect for anybody who is interested in monitoring the weather and learning more about it or anyone who simply enjoys the appearance of these fascinating clocks.

5. Alarm

Rectangular, LED clock with alarm. Source: Houzz

Just as popular as wall clocks are alarm clocks, as most people use these to help them get out of bed at a certain time in the morning. They are generally fairly small, and they can fit on a bedside table so that you can easily check the time during the night.

When shopping for an alarm clock, there are a number of different features that you will want to consider, such as whether not the clock has the ability to snooze, whether it has a radio, and whether you can set multiple alarms at once.

Alarm clocks with multiple features are generally a little bit more useful because they are able to have more than one alarm, and you can choose to wake up to the radio instead of beeping.

Additionally, there are some alarm clocks that will move when they are sounding, so the owner must physically get out of bed to catch them. There are others that are shot with a laser gun to ensure that the person is fully awake before they can be turned off.

6. Grandfather

Wooden, victorian-style grandfather clock.Source: Houzz

The largest and most traditional of all available clocks is the grandfather clock. These are incredibly beautiful clocks that are designed to be as aesthetically pleasing as they are functional.

In general, grandfather clocks are freestanding instead of mounted on the wall, and they often have beautiful tones to choose from.

These tones can sound the quarter hour, half hour, and an hour. Due to their size and the design and work that goes into them, they are among the most expensive types of clocks that you can buy, and they are often passed down through generations as family heirlooms.

7. Cuckoo

Battery-operated, wooden cuckoo clock.Source: Wayfair

Cuckoo clocks are a fun way to keep the time, and they strike each hour with a cuckoo call, while at the same time, a small door opens, and a tiny bird pops out.

The mechanisms that move each bird vary from clock to clock. Some birds only lean out of the clock, and others open their beaks at the same time.

This type of clock is considered a cultural icon of Germany, and it is a favorite souvenir for many people traveling to that country.

8. Outdoor

Vintage-style, deep brown outdoor clock.Source: Wayfair

If you want to be able to have a clock outside of your home on the deck or patio of your house, then it is important to choose one that has been specifically made and is rated for outdoor use.

Otherwise, you are likely to run into a problem with dampness and moisture getting into your clock and causing irreversible damage. While outdoor clocks in the past were fairly basic in design, recently, more attention has been paid to the aesthetic appeal of these clocks.

This means that you do not have to worry about whether or not your outdoor clock will be attractive, nor do you need to worry that it will detract from your outdoor decor.

9. Floor

Traditional round clock with a tripod.Source: Home Depot

Floor clocks tend to be rather large, and instead of being hung on the wall, they rest on the floor.

The most popular type of floor clock is the grandfather clock, but this classification is not limited simply to grandfather clocks. Recently, tripod floor clocks have become more and more fashionable and easy to find.

One of the benefits of this type of clock is that you can have a clock in your home, even if you do not have a lot of empty wall space.

Another reason to consider a floor clock comes up when you are renting and are not allowed to put holes in the wall. This is a freestanding clock that will not require any mounting.

10. Pendulum

Wooden, dark brown pendulum clock. Source: Amazon

Pendulum clocks were first invented by Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens in 1657 and have been popular ever since. While pendulums used to have very wide swings in order to keep time, more recent advancements have decreased the size of the swings so that these clocks do not take up as much room.

There are a number of issues that can occur with pendulum clocks, including thermal expansion, which will cause the rate of the clock to change as well as atmospheric drag.

For a pendulum clock to work correctly, it has to be absolutely level so that the pendulum swings evenly between both sides.

If the “tick” and “tock” of the pendulum clock are not even, then that is a clear sign that the pendulum clock has become uneven and needs to be leveled so that it will continue to work properly.

B. Feature

1. Digital

Mini-sized, cube-shaped digital camera in gray. Source: Amazon

Digital clocks are very popular, especially alarm clocks, because it is easy for most people to quickly glance at the digital clock and be able to tell the time without any problem.

Most children learn how to tell time on a digital clock so that they do not have to struggle with reading minute and hour hands. One benefit of digital clocks is that the numbers often glow. This makes it easy to tell the time, even in the middle of the night.

2. Analog

Square, vintage analog clock with round edges.Source: Hayneedle

Analog clocks have numbers around the outside of the face with hour and minute hands that are used to tell the time. They often have a second hand that can be used for measuring short periods of time easily.

Although these types of clocks take more practice to learn how to read the time than digital clocks do, they are very popular in most offices and schools, and they have a very professional look.

3. Roman Numerals

Round, wooden rustic-style clock with numbers in Roman Numerals.Source: Etsy

While these clocks are not as popular as digital or analog clocks, it is possible to buy clocks that have roman numerals.

Although the clocks do not differ in any way in how they tell time, many people prefer to choose clocks with Roman numerals because of the way the clock looks.

If you want a clock that is very attractive as well as functional, then a roman numeral clock may be just what you want. They tend to look a little bit nicer and classier than a plain digital or analog clock.

4. Battery Powered

Large, wooden, battery-operated wall clock.Source: Houzz

Many people do not want to have to worry about cords when they buy a new clock. For this reason, opting for a battery-powered clock is a good idea.

Not only will this reduce the number of visible cords that are in your home, but if you do happen to lose power, your clock will be able to keep time without any problems.

Of course, if you do opt for a battery-powered clock, then you will want to make sure that you change the batteries on a regular basis before they begin to die.

Otherwise, it is a common problem for clocks to slow down and begin to lose time as they run out of batteries. Generally, these clocks run on AA or AAA batteries, which means that it is very easy and inexpensive to pick up the batteries for your clock.

5. Automatic Chime Shutoff

Wooden, grandfather clock with chimes.Source: Houzz

While many people love the sound of a grandfather clock during the day, the constant noise during the night can make it difficult for everyone in the family to sleep.

Instead of feeling like you cannot have the clock that you want in your home, one great option is to choose a clock that has an automatic time shutoff. This means that you will be able to set your clock so that it will chime during the day, but it will not make a noise at night.

Doing so makes it very easy for everybody in your family to get to sleep, and it ensures that you can enjoy the full beauty and sound of your clock during the day.

6. Radio

Rectangular radio clock made of wood and metal.Source: Houzz

A radio clock is a great option for anybody who wants not only to be able to see the time but also to enjoy music without having two separate items on the desk or bedside table.

One benefit of choosing a radio clock is that often you can set your alarm to a specific radio station so that you wake up to music instead of obnoxious beeping.

7. Calendar

Metal desktop clock with indicated date and weather.Source: Hayneedle

Perfect for placement on a desk, a clock that has a calendar included on the face makes it easy to know exactly what the date is without having to have a calendar also taking up space on the desk.

These clocks generally do not show the whole month, but they do show the date so that you can always know what day it is. This makes them ideal in an office situation.

8. Musical

Brown, musical clock with a volume control. Source: Amazon

Musical clocks have the ability to play music, and as such, they are a fun addition to the family room or a child’s room.

9. Light Sensor

Elegant-looking clock with a brown metallic case. Source: Amazon

A clock that has a light sensor is very beneficial if it is going to be located in a child’s bedroom, as it will not make any noise once the room becomes dark.

This means that no matter when you put your child to bed, turn off the lights, and draw the blinds, you will not have to worry about the clock making noise. Unlike clocks with an automatic chime shutoff, clocks with light sensors are more sensitive and will self-adjust.

10. Large Display

Plastic-framed atomic clock with a large display.Source: Hayneedle

It can be very difficult for some people who have vision problems to see the numbers on the clock and to be able to tell the time. For this reason, opting for a clock that has oversized numbers on a large display is a good idea.

This simply makes it significantly easier to see what the time is without having to get close to the clock.

A clock with oversized numbers is especially important in the bedroom, as it makes it easier to see the time during the night.

C. Shape

1. Round

Round, plastic-framed analog clock in black.Source: Home Depot

A round clock is very popular for wall clocks and desk or mantel clocks due to its attractive shape. This shape is very traditional, and it is very easy for most people to find a round clock.

When used on the wall, they add a lot of interest to a gallery wall because they do not have sharp corners the way most of the items on the wall tend to.

The numbers on a round clock are evenly spaced around the face so that the clock is very easy to read.

2. Square

Square-shaped digital clock with a sleek finish.Source: Wayfair

Square clocks are generally smaller and used as an alarm clock or on the desk.

When you are looking for a clock that will also tell the date or the weather, then you will likely find one that is square, as these clocks are generally digital and have plenty of space for all of the information that buyers want to be able to have.

3. Rectangle

Rectangular radio alarm clock in Gray.Source: Wayfair

While there is nothing functionally different about a rectangular clock, the shape does add a little bit of extra interest to the appearance of the clock. Because of the extra size on the face of the clock, these clocks are generally digital and may have weather information as well.

4. Novelty

Wooden wall clock in brown and black with a unique shape.Source: Etsy

Clocks that are in a novelty shape are a lot of fun, and they are a great way to express your personality and interests while still making sure that you are able to keep track of the time in your home or office.

One thing to consider when looking for a novelty clock is where your interests lie. Then, you can search for a clock that represents this.

No matter whether you have a specific animal that you love, enjoy fishing, or are simply looking for a clock that is as much a piece of art as it is a functional timepiece, looking for a novelty clock is your best option.

These clocks usually serve as conversation starters, so you never have to worry about what you will talk to somebody about when first meeting them in your home or office.

D. Mechanism

1. Atomic

Small, black-framed atomic alarm clock. Source: Amazon

Unlike some types of clocks where the time needs to be manually set by the owner, atomic clocks rely on an electron transition frequency to keep time.

This means that these types of clocks are the most accurate ones known, and they are used for international time distribution because there is no variance in the time.

If you are worried about whether or not you will ever be late, or you do not want to have to set the time on your clock after replacing the batteries or after a power outage, then an atomic clock is the right choice for you, as it will automatically update the time without your help.

2. Mechanical

Gold, mechanical clock inside a glass frame.Source: Houzz

This type of clock is powered by a spring that has been wound tight. The spring is able to store energy and then transfer it to other springs and gears to release energy and power the clock.

3. Electric

Tall, silver-framed electric clock.Source: Houzz

Instead of having to wind your clock regularly, you can choose a clock that is powered by electricity. With this type of clock, all you have to do is plug it in and forget about it.

The main problem that people run into when they choose an electric clock is that if the power in the home or building where a clock is located goes out, then the clock will not keep time.

Depending on whether or not the clock is atomic, the owner will have to set the time and make sure that the clock is plugged in to continue working once the power has returned.

4. Quartz Movement

Silver-framed, soccer-themed clock.Source: Wayfair

This type of clock relies on the electronic oscillator regulated by quartz crystals to ensure that the clock is able to keep time.

The crystal oscillator keeps very precise time which makes this type of clock much more accurate than mechanical clocks.

First built in 1927, quartz movement clocks caught on in the 1980s when they became less expensive and more compact.

Top Brands

Karlsson Clocks

Karlsson clocks hanging on the wall.

Karlsson is a Swedish clock manufacturer, founded in 1892 by Carl Hjalmar Karlsson, who made his first clocks at home. He later moved to Stockholm and started producing them in a small workshop. Karlsson Clocks are still made in Sweden today, using both traditional handcrafted methods and the latest technology.

The company has an extensive range of products. These include wall clocks, table clocks, grandfather clocks, pendulum wall clocks and mantel clocks. All Karlsson Clocks are available with or without pendulum movements.

London Clock Company

Large circular clock on a train station.

The London Clock Company is another popular choice for people looking to buy a unique clock. The company has been making clocks since 1670, so they certainly know what they’re doing when it comes to creating beautiful pieces that will last a lifetime. Their products come in a range of styles, including Butterfly Clocks and Bird Clocks.

Zennox Clocks

Zennox clocks are one of the most popular brands of wall clocks in the world. The company has been around for over 40 years, and it continues to produce high-quality products that can be found on every continent, except Antarctica (not surprisingly). The company’s mission is to provide its customers with a wide range of styles and prices so that everyone can find something that matches their needs.

TFA Clocks

TFA is a relatively new company, but they have already made quite an impact in the clock industry. They offer a wide variety of designs, including some clocks that are only available through them. Their motto is “the best thing since sliced bread,” and they make sure that each product they sell meets this standard.

Newgate Clocks

Newgate London beautiful wall clock.

Newgate Clocks is a British company that has been manufacturing clocks since 1859. They are best known for their public and tower clocks, including Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster clock tower. The company also makes pocket watches and wall clocks.


Bulova is best known as a high-end watchmaker, but they also make quality wall clocks. This is a brand that has been around for over 100 years and continues to produce excellent quality clocks and accessories. The company was founded in 1875 by Joseph Bulova and has since grown into an international leader in timekeeping products.

It manufactures clocks, watches, and other timepieces, including jewelry items such as earrings and bracelets.

Seiko Wall Clocks

Different types of Seiko Wall Clocks sold on a store.

Seiko have been manufacturing watches for over 100 years and they continue to produce high-quality products with innovative designs. Their watches can be found in over 150 countries around the world and their products are known for their precision, durability and reliability. They also offer a wide range of clocks that are sure to appeal to all tastes. Whether you want something simple or more ornate, Seiko has something for everyone.

Howard Miller Clocks

Howard Miller is a company that has been making clocks since 1928. They have created many different styles and types of clocks to suit any home. 

The clocks come in a variety of colors including brown, gold, and silver, so you can choose one that matches your decorating style. You can also get clocks with chimes or without chimes.

Infinity Instruments Clocks

Infinity Instruments is another company that makes clocks for the home. The company produces several different styles of wall clocks, including modern and contemporary designs. These clocks are available in many different colors, including black and white, red and blue, green, brown, and purple.

These clocks are made from high-quality materials including wood, glass, or plastic materials which make them durable enough to last for years without needing repairs or maintenance.

Rhythm Clocks

A newly awoken woman beside her alarm clock.

The Rhythm Series of clocks is designed to be used as a bedside alarm clock or desk clock. These clocks are designed to display the time and date in a sleek and modern way. With many different designs to choose from, you are sure to find one that fits your home décor. The Rhythm Series is available in black, white, and silver.

Where to Buy Clocks


Amazon is a popular place to buy clocks, and you can find an abundance of options here. The site has a large selection of clocks in all price ranges and styles, including wall clocks, grandfather clocks, and other antique-inspired pieces.

You can even find a designer clock if you’re looking for something unique to add to your home décor. Amazon offers free shipping on all orders over $25, so it’s easy to take advantage of their selections without spending too much money upfront.

Overstock is one of the best places to buy clocks online. They have a wide selection, including alarm clocks, wall clocks, and grandfather clocks. Some of their most popular brands include Bulova, Seiko, Citizen, and Casio. 

Wayfair has a wide selection of different types of clocks for your home or office. They have everything from grandfather clocks to desk clocks and wall clocks to mantle clocks. They also offer many different styles from modern to traditional so you can find something that fits your decorating style perfectly.

The best thing about Wayfair is that they offer free shipping on all orders over $49 which means you save money on shipping costs and don’t have to pay extra just because you’re ordering multiple items at once!

Walmart has become one of the most popular places to shop online for everything from clothing to home goods. You’ll find an assortment of wall clocks at Walmart that are both stylish and affordable. Plus, you can often find these items at lower prices than other retailers offer them — especially if you choose free shipping on orders over $35.


Target offers a wide variety of clocks in all shapes and sizes, making it a great place to find one that matches your home’s design. The retailer has a selection of kitchen clocks, wall clocks, and table clocks that have been designed by well-known brands like Michael Graves, Jonathan Adler and more.


IKEA has a ton of great clock options. The Swedish furniture giant has a variety of clocks at all different price points. They also have some unique options too. Their prices are very reasonable and they have free shipping on all orders over $50.

Burke Decor

Burke Decor has many clocks in stock. One of their most popular items is the 6-inch brass wall clock. This clock is a great way to add some style to your home. It features a solid brass frame and glass cover and comes with a lifetime manufacturer warranty.

The clock also comes with batteries and the option to add a quartz movement upgrade for an additional fee if you want more accuracy in timekeeping.

The company offers over 100,000 products from more than 2,000 brands. It stocks a large variety of clocks and watches, including wall clocks, alarm clocks, table clocks and watches.

Herman Miller

Herman Miller is an American-based furniture company with a long history of creating quality furnishings for the office and home. In addition to its workspace furniture, the company also designs a wide variety of clocks.

The most popular Herman Miller clock is the Eames Wall Clock. This version has a black face with white numerals and hands, making it easy to read from across the room. The clock is available in two sizes: 24 inches and 36 inches. Both sizes have a beveled glass face that is curved at the top and bottom, providing a contemporary look that matches most styles of décor.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are clocks measured?

The rate of many different types of clocks, including those used on computers, is expressed in ticks per second. Hertz is the SI unit for “per second.” Ticks every second at 1 GHz are one billion. Inaccurate clock time.

Why do clocks run clockwise?

Sundials were one of the first types of clocks ever created. The dial’s shadow in the northern hemisphere follows the sun’s path across the sky in a clockwise path.

Therefore, clock hands were designed to move in this manner in medieval times.

Why do clocks lose time?

The speed of drift/time loss is affected by the precision of a clock, the reliability of the power supply, the room temperature, and other small but significant factors.

The most typical reason for an analog clock to lose time is because the battery is not making full contact with the clock mechanism due to accumulation in the battery area.

Take out the battery and examine the leads for any signs of corrosion or buildup due to a leaking battery, dust, etc.

How do digital clocks keep time?

For a clock to function, it must have something called an oscillator. This is often given by a glass crystal in a digital clock.

An electric current through the crystal will cause it to bend ever so slightly and emit a faint chime. An electronic signal is generated from the audible sound that occurs at a constant rate.

The oscillations from a 60 Hz oscillator are reduced to 1 Hz by utilizing a series of counters.

When the first counter starts counting, it will do so for every tenth oscillation, and the second counter will start counting after every six-tenths. 

How long do grandfather clocks last?

If you install a new, high-quality grandfather clock, then never touch it again. The clock should run for at least 20 years — however, with regular oiling, the clock could run for a lifetime (or two).

How did clocks work before electricity?

When there was no electricity, we had to wind a clock every week for it to work continuously or via a pendulum.

When the pendulum was in motion, it powered a series of gears that turned at a very specific rate, allowing the hands to move. In place of a pendulum, a wind-up spring was employed to achieve the same result.

Who works on clocks?

The term “clockmaker” refers to a craftsperson who creates and/or fixes timepieces. Given the widespread availability of mass-produced timepieces, most contemporary clockmakers specialize solely in repair.

These days, a modern clockmaker might find work in a jewelry store, an antique shop, or a store whose sole purpose is to service and repair timepieces.

What are clocks made of?

Due to the clock’s multi-material construction, which often includes plastic, paint, metal, wood, etc., each of which has its peculiarities in terms of behavior and environmental interaction, finding an appropriate treatment might be difficult.

Due to the nature of the materials and the intricacy of the clockwork, the job should be handled by a professional horological conservator.

Do clocks work in space?

A clock’s function in space is constrained in ways that aren’t seen on Earth. For instance, the magnetic force the clock encounters during an orbit fluctuates roughly two levels of magnitude greater than in a lab setup.

How many clocks are in the UK’s Parliament?

In the United Kingdom’s Parliament there are 2000 clocks, and be assured, mechanics have their hands full adjusting the times.

In Australia’s Parliament there are 500 more clocks than in the UK parliament and those get handled from a remote location.