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22 Types of Clocks

If you are interested in finding out more about the different styles and types of clocks, this is the article for you. Continue reading to find out more details about them.

A blurred close up of a clock, light pixels around

Clocks are often considered to be among the oldest human inventions. We have been using some type of tool to help us measure the passing of time almost as long as humans have been around. Early on, it was measured by the sun. 

The first mechanical versions date back to 1300 in Europe. However, we cannot overlook the sundial which was used in ancient times. As technology has changed, so has the technology for clocks. In 1642, the pendulum clock was invented, mainly to allow precise time measurement for navigational purposes. 

Around 1840, the electric clock was invented, and the technology has only improved since then. Not only has the technology improved, but so have the devices we use as clocks. They vary widely by style, function, and mechanism. Typically, they are grouped by the method by which they keep time and the way they display it. Each type of clock has its own functions and characteristics.

Due to the wide range and styles of clocks, you are able to put them in different rooms and settings. While clocks have the primary purpose of telling time, they also add to the decor of a room and can improve the style and value. If you are interested in finding out more about the different styles and types of clocks, this is the article for you. Continue reading to find out more details about them. 

Different Types of Clocks Pictures and Names

There are many different styles of clocks. You see them hanging on the wall, standing freely, and sitting on desks. There are even on your computer screen, phones, on your wrist, or in your pocket. Clocks are categorized in many ways. 

It may be based on where they are placed, like the floor or wall. It may be based on their function, such as an alarm clock. Or it can be based on their mechanism, like a quartz clock. We have listed all the various types of clocks based on varying features that separate them. 

Types of Old Clocks 

Antique grandfather clocks

While some might call these clocks old, others call them antique. There are many different styles of antique clocks available. This is a famous clock for someone that is looking for decoration more than a functioning clock. Some use these clocks as art instead of as a timepiece. 

Typically, a clock that is 100 years old or older is considered an antique. If it is less than 100 years old and older than 50 years old, it is considered vintage. There is also a difference between a clock that is a true antique versus a clock that has been constructed to look like an antique. 

A true antique clock has distinguishing characteristics. The characteristics change depending on the age of the clock and the era in which it was constructed. These clocks were created by hand and often had fragile inner-workings. 

There is not one defining feature that defines an antique clock or vintage clock because they come from different eras. Instead, you will find the name of the maker or company printed or engraved near the center of the dial face. There should also be an engraving or stamp on the movement’s backplate. 

Types of Wall Clocks

Black and white round wall clock with numbers 1 through 12 showing time 1:13

Wall clocks have been trendy for quite some time. They are prevalent for homes and offices. There are many different styles of wall clocks pictures available. 

A wall clock is incredibly useful, especially when you have plenty of wall space available. They are easy to hang, and anyone in the room can glance at the clock and know the time. You will often find them hung in a public space so everyone can see the time. 

These clocks are somewhat unique in that they are available to everyone allowing them to see the time. It is not a personal or private clock, such as one on a desk or in your pocket. This provides access to the time, allowing everyone to get where they need to be. 

Wall clocks can be of any size, style, and movement. The best wall clocks are ones where the numbers can be easily viewed. An ideal size is between 6 to 18 inches wide. Generally, you can find small, medium, and large clocks. 

A small wall clock is usually around 8.5 inches, a medium clock ranges from 12 inches to 24 inches, and a large clock is about 24 inches to 32 inches. 

Outdoor Clocks

Outdoor clock, black metal with antique face background, displaying numbers 1 through 12 showing the time of 3:48

Outdoor clocks are found outside. They are ideal for any outdoor space. They can serve multiple purposes, such as providing time for passersby while being a decorative touch for a restaurant or store. You can also have an outdoor clock in your home garden or outdoor patio or deck space. 

The ideal outdoor clock has a large face with numbers that are easy to view and read. They may have some additional features which display temperature and humidity. These clocks come in many sizes and styles. You want a clock that is waterproof and will not be damaged by severe weather. 

Some of the materials you may consider for an outdoor clock include wood, metal, or plastic. Wood provides a rustic and natural look. It may have one piece of wood or plank background. Wood may not be the most durable of all the options. It can be damaged easily by sun, moisture, and temperature. However, they are great for mild climates. 

Metal is durable, and some material is lightweight, making them easy to hang. Common materials are aluminum, stainless steel, copper, and wrought iron. These materials can resist rust but may not be rust proof. These are ideal for climates that are wet. Metal may be a more expensive option. 

Plastic is an affordable option and comes in the largest variety of designs. The harder the plastic is, the more it can withstand sun, weather, and temperature. However, it will eventually break down from exposure to weather and sun. 

Floor Clocks

Tall brown floor clock, larger on top and bottom, silver tick marks, showing 2:00 on the top

A floor clock is not only a timepiece but also a nice touch to add to your decor. Floor clocks can take up a good amount of space in your home as it sits on the floor. It is not possible to hang this type of clock on the wall.

They may be a classic and traditional design, like a grandfather clock. However, they may also be more contemporary and modern, like a tripod floor clock. 

A floor clock allows you to have a decorative timepiece in your house that frees up your wall space. You do not have to mark your walls or put any holes in them for these clocks. They are freestanding and do not require mounting. They are not low to the ground and can be seen early by anyone in the room, even those seated. 

Mantel or Table Top Clocks

Brown and gold mantel clock with white face sitting on wooden mantel with a stone fireplace

Mantel clocks and tabletop clocks are small and intended to sit in a small space. They may be on a desk, table, or mantel. They are private for just a few people to see. You often have to be close to the clock to be able to read it. They come in many different styles, shapes, materials, and designs. 

These types of clocks may also be referred to as shelf clocks. They are intended to match your decor. They are usually more traditional in style and design. Most often, you will see mantel clocks that have a wood or metal case. 

The concept of a mantel clock was first designed in the 1750s in France. They are one of the first clocks to use a spring mechanism instead of descending weights. When springs were used to power the clocks, it allowed clockmakers to create smaller versions. 

There are countless versions of mantel clocks:

Tambour – this is a standard mantel clock with a round face. The outside drum curves out and tapers into a base. This is what many think of when they think of a mantel clock.

Bracket – this has a square case with a handle on top. This allowed the clock to be moved around the room during a time when most households could only afford one clock. 

Carriage – this is a smaller mantel clock with a narrow and rectangular case. It typically has a metal handle. This was designed for carriages and had a sturdy construction to withstand the bumps in the road. 

Steeple – this mantel clock is triangular with columns on either side. It is intended to mimic a church steeple. There are many variations of this style. They remain popular today. 

Skeleton – this mantel clock style has an open frame that allows you to see the clock movement. It is fun to see, but the open frame allows dust and debris to get into the mechanism of the clock. 

Analog Clocks

Black frame with white face analog clock showing 1:55 on tic marks

An analog clock is the type of clock that has numbers, tick marks, or roman numerals, around the outside of the face. It has minute and hour hands to indicate the time. This is one of the most popular types of clocks, and they can be found everywhere. It often has a second hand to help measure shorter periods of time. 

It does take practice to be able to read an analog clock. If you do not know how to read it, you cannot look at it and just know the time. Many people find an analog clock complicated. It also seems more professional and traditional than a digital clock. 

There was a time when all clocks were analog because there was no digital technology. Sundials were the first analog clocks. They are also the oldest clock known to humans. 

While the analog clock is traditional and simple looking, it may have some extra features. You can find them with the date. They may even be able to tell you if it is am or pm. 

Types of Digital Clocks

Bronze rectangular shaped digital clock with orange lights, displaying 7:15 am

Digital clocks are most popular today for many reasons. When most people are looking for a clock, especially to use as an alarm, they look for a digital clock. You can easily glance over at a digital clock and immediately know the time. You do not have to think about it because the numbers are represented on the clock. 

The digital clock has been around since 1883, when an Austrian engineer created the digital clock. It has technology that displays the numbers that reflect the time. This is the first way most children learn how to tell time. The numbers on a digital clock typically glow in the dark so you can see it at all times, even at night. 

A digital clock is ideal for someone that has low vision or is losing their vision. The numbers are clearly displayed. You can find them in different sizes and colors. Most digital clocks can display the time in the 24-hour system or the 12-hour system. They also display if it is am or pm. 

You will find digital clocks in cars, on computers, radios, and appliances. They are affordable and easy to use. 

Atomic Clocks

Night time outside, large building with tall satellite atomic clock

An atomic clock is used mostly by NASA for the GPS satellite that orbits the Earth. In addition, atomic clocks are used to synchronize GPS time, electrical power grids, and smartwatches. This clock measures electron frequencies, microwaves, and electromagnetic atomic transitions. They are stable and can withstand extreme weather. 

Electric Clocks

Small black electric clock with cord and silver buttons, blue numbers showing 5:59

An electric clock is one that is powered by electricity. They have cords that are plugged into a socket. Since they require electricity to power them, they will lose time if there is a power outage. Once they stop working, the time must be reset on them. They do not have internal mechanisms that power the clock. They are run solely on electrical power. 

Mechanical Clocks

White with black mechanical clock, showing gear on the inside in the middle

Mechanical clocks are not as accurate as atomic clocks. However, they can be used at any time regardless of the weather or electricity. They have an internal oscillator that allows them to measure time. These clocks are used in the financial markets to determine the start of the day.

They are also used in aviation, television, GPS, and scientific studies. They are considered to have better accuracy because of the oscillating mechanism. On the outside, they appear similar to most other clocks. 

Their internal mechanism is different. Many of them are designed so you can see the gears inside the clock. This type of measurement is often used for wristwatches. 

Quartz Clocks

An open quartz clock showing gears inside

A quartz clock uses quartz crystals to create electronic rhythm movement. The crystals in the clock vibrate and receive an electric charge from the battery to determine the time. Quartz movement is accurate and stable. They are also affordable. 

Spring-Driven Clock

An old gold with white face spring driven clock, cover open and winding key in place to wind it up

It is rare to find a spring driven clock today. This type of clock required you to wind it to get it started. Eventually, it would wind down and need winding again. These were the early attempts at clocks. Collectors still have and use them. 

They were more interactive. This concept is still found in wristwatches. You must wind the spring mechanism to keep it moving. The good news is that it is not possible to overwind this type of clock. 

For them to function properly, they must be wound as tightly as possible. For example, some spring driven clocks would run for one day, seven days, or thirty days. They must be wound again before the weight touch the bottom. You do not want the weights to touch the top or the pendulum. 

Battery Powered Clocks

A persons hand holding a small black battery powered clock, open back showing where the batteried go

Battery powered clocks are exactly what they sound like they are. These clocks are powered by batteries. They do not need electricity. You do not have to wind them. Modern clocks either run on batteries or have a battery back up. This type of clock is easy to pack and carry with you. These clocks are great for when you are outside or camping.

You do not need to worry about having one more cord to plug in a battery powered clock. You also do not have to worry about if the cord is long enough to reach the plug. This clock will continue to keep time even when the power goes out. It is important to remember to change the batteries in this clock before it dies.

If you notice the clock is slowing down or losing time, it is an indicator that you need new batteries. These clocks usually run on AA or AAA batteries. They are affordable, and the batteries last a long time. They do not require a lot of battery power to keep the clock going. They come in different display colors and shine in the dark. 

These types of clocks can be in various styles, such as a bedside clock, desk clock, or wall clock. In addition, there are countless variations of battery powered clocks. 

Cuckoo Clocks

White wall with a cuckoo clock hanging on it, brown with green and yellow, trees and a bird

A cuckoo clock is a popular clock around the world. It is also a fun way to keep time. The cuckoo clock does have a cuckoo call every hour. In some cases, the clock has a small door on the front that pops open, and a cute bird comes out when it makes its call. 

There are many variations on what the bird does on the hour. On some clocks, the bird just leans out of the door. On other variations, the bird opens its mouth as though it is actually making the calling noise. Finally, some birds flap their wings when the door pops open.

Some cuckoo clocks have the ability to be silenced during the night. You may be able to set the schedule as to which hours the cuckoo calls. Otherwise, you may be woken up in the middle of the night by the cuckoo bird. 

Cuckoo clocks are incredibly popular in Germany. They are often considered to be cultural icons in the country. Many people visit Germany and purchase cuckoo clocks as a souvenir. Therefore, you want to ensure that you know how your clock is going to behave when the clock strikes the hour. 

Grandfather Clocks

Old palor room, deep red wondow drapes, wood floor, small arm chair and ottoman, antique accent table with candle sticks and old record player, tall wooden grandfather clock

A grandfather clock is one of the most classic and traditional clocks you will find. They are large and stand on the floor. They are easily the largest clock you can find. While they have a traditional look to them, you can find them in many different house styles. These clocks are functional and aesthetically pleasing. 

Most grandfather clocks are free standing. The clocks have different tones, and you can select the one you want. They sound on the hour, half hour, and quarter hour. They tend to be expensive and are often passed down through the generations. 

Grandfather clocks do require some care. You must keep them away from direct sunlight, extreme heat, and humidity. The case can crack, and the finish may fade. The door must always be closed and locked to prevent dirt and debris from getting inside. The clock must be wound every seven days. It should be cleaned, oiled, and inspected regularly. 

Pendulum Clocks

White wall with wooden and gold pendulum clock hanging displaying the time 11:39 on black roman numerals

A pendulum clock is one of the most well known clocks. It was invented in 1656 and has been popular since. The pendulum swings to keep the clock functioning orderly. Pendulum clocks of the past had wide swings, but as technology has improved, the swing has gotten narrower. This also allows the clocks to be smaller. 

A pendulum clock must be level for it to function properly. When it is level, the pendulum swings evenly between the sides. These types of clocks use gravity to function and keep time. In addition, they are freestanding, which makes them more attractive. You can find these clocks in offices, homes, and public places. 

Musical Clocks

Large black with gold accents, musical clock hanging on brick wall, 3 dancing figurines out front of clock

A musical clock plays a melody when the clock strikes the hour. This is a sophisticated version of a clock that chimes. This is not considered a traditional electronic clock. It plays pre-recorded music. 

A musical clock can sense light and has motion functions. If the clock does not sense enough light, the music and motion turn off. These clocks may need to be in a well lit room to function properly. 

Maritime and Weather Station Clocks

Silver weather station clock showing a rain cloud, the temperature and the time

Weather station clocks and maritime clocks allow you to monitor the weather, humidity, and time. These clocks are ideal for someone that wants to learn more about the weather. Not only can you monitor the weather in your local area, but also in other areas. 

These clocks may also be called nautical clocks, or chronometers are perfect for ships, boats, and homes. They not only act as a clock but also as a thermometer and barometer. They display temperature, time, barometric pressure, and humidity. 

Tactile Clock

wooden tacticle clock with colorful removeable pieces for learning

A tactile clock is ideal for someone that has blindness or low vision. This type of clock gives physical symbols for the digits that an individual can feel. These clocks may also use braille. 

Some other tactile clocks may have touch screens that can be operated with a person’s fingers. These types of clocks can also help little children learn how to tell time. 

Auditory Clock

Auditory alarm clock sitting on table, black with silver dials

An auditory clock is also referred to as a speaking clock or a talking clock. The basic premise is this clock talks to you. You can talk to the clock or press a button to have it speak the Tim. It can even give the date, temperature, news, and more information. 

These types of clocks use recorded human speech. They can link to smartphones. These clocks are ideal for those who are visually impaired. They can easily find out the time without having to find their glasses, turn on a light, or get close to the clock face. 

These clocks can be simple or technologically advanced based on the individual’s needs. For example, the clocks that have a push button are on the simpler side, while a clock that interacts with you is more advanced. 

Light-Sensored Clocks

Tan brick wall, light sensor clock in the shape of a little house, light shining on it

A light sensor clock uses technology in its mechanism. This type of clock recognizes light, artificial or natural. If the lights are off or it is dark, it does not produce any type of sound or noise. Therefore, it will not disturb anyone while sleeping. 

It does not have to be a specific type of clock that has a light sensor in it. Any clock can have it. For example, you may find this feature in clocks that are known to make noise, such as a cuckoo clock or a grandfather clock. 

You can also program a light sensor clock to be quiet during certain hours, such as sleeping hours. For example, you may decide that you do not want the clock to make any noise between 10 pm to 7 am. Your setting overrides the sensor that determines if there is light in the room. 

Multi-Display Clocks

A red brick wall with different size wall clocks hanging on it

Often clocks have multiple displays that are controlled by one mechanism. Others have multiple independent systems kept in a single outer shell. For example, some clocks in public spaces have several faces that are viewable from various angles. They may also show the actual time in many time zones.

A clock may have two displays, one that shows the local time and one that shows time in another country. In addition, some clocks may have both digital and analog displays. 

How Many Types of Clocks Are There? 

There are many different variations of clocks available. It is challenging to put a number to the different types of clocks. Clocks are categorized by different features. For example, they may be categorized by how they get power, such as electrical or battery operated. 

They are categorized by the mechanism, such as quartz. They are also categorized by where they are placed in the house, such as wall clocks or table clocks. Due to the various ways to differentiate a clock, it is difficult to place a value on how many different types of clocks are available to you.  

What Are the Two Different Types of Clocks?

The two main different types of clocks are analog and digital. No matter what type of clock you have, it is either analog or digital. This refers to the output of the clock. When you look at the face of the clock, you either see a digital display of numbers, or you see an analog face. 

The analog clock face has numbers or symbols with an hour hand and a minute hand. With a digital display, you do not have to think about it. It shows you the time clearly. On an analog clock, you have to understand how to determine the time and think about it.