Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Problems with (Some) Clocks

clock with reversed numbers

Problem #1: Clocks are meant to tell us the time, right? I'm always a bit surprised at the number of clocks that come out (including this one) that might be pretty or clever, but don't serve the basic function very well.

clock with distorted numbers and hands

And then there's this one - the Dali clock.

clock with no numbers; picture of flowers in a field on clockface

And then there are the numerous clocks (such as this one) that just don't provide any hours on the clockface. Those might still work for you, but they aren't as easy to red as clocks that do provide the numbers (or at least some markers).

Problem #2: If the clock is an alarm clock, it needs to have easy-to-set controls - but some don't. As Mark Hurst writes about one such clock: "We've had digital alarm clocks as a technology for, what, 25 years? And a major company like Sony ... still hasn't figured out how to make it usable?"

But there are certainly plenty of well-designed clocks out there to chose from. While I can't vouch for how easy it is to set the alarm on any of these, they sure caught my eye.


Here's a simple clock which Retro To Go tells me was designed by Japanese designer Riki Watanabe when he was 92 years old! As the site points out, "That influenced the design, with the numbers intended to be visible for anyone with poor vision or looking from a distance." It's available from the MoMA Store.


Chaney Instrument makes a number of interesting clocks. The Set & Forget series is described this way: "In addition to automatically springing forward and falling back for Daylight Savings Time, digital clocks with Set & Forget automatically display the correct time from the moment you plug them in or install the batteries. They will continue to display the correct time even after power outages." (That's because they have battery back-up.)

The company also makes the Atomix clocks, which "wirelessly synchronize with the National Institute of Standards and Technology's atomic clock in Boulder, Colorado. In addition to daily confirming the time, these clocks automatically adjust for Daylight Saving Time and run up to two years on a single AA battery. No wires, no worries, and no more excuses for being late." That's one of the Atomix clocks above.

cow clock

For something with a more unusual look, we have this cow clock made from recycled kitchen pieces - which manages to be both clever and legible. It's available from Uncommon Goods. [via this site] Don't want a cow? There's also a crab, an owl, a penguin, a tin man, and a reindeer (currently out of stock, but hopefully to return at Christmastime).

robot clock

For more clocks by Mark Brown, see the Mary Lou Zeek Gallery.

round wood clock

Moving toward more artistic options, David Barclay makes a number of lovely clocks.

floor clock, cherry wood with ebony

And finally, there's this stunner from Hubel Handcrafted Interiors.

Related Posts:
7 Alarm Clocks for a Gentler Wake-Up Call
Clocky - For People Who Overuse the Snooze Button
Real Simple Treasure Trove! Funny Alarm Clocks!
Alarm Clocks: The Sacred and the Profane


SUS said...

That first alarm clock is wonderful, but at night it might be hard to read, especially when you've taken your contacts out.

Ariane Benefit, Coach said...

Hey Jeri,

What a really neat collection of clocks! The one that goes backwards is bizarre, but could be a funny gag gift for someone like me who wishes time could go in reverse for awhile (assuming my body would get younger with each passing minute : ) If only wouldn't just become clutter.

Hope you've had a great summer - I've been out of things for a while but gradually reconnecting with my "online life" again. It was a much needed break!

Jeri Dansky said...

SUS, I wondered about that too, with the white on white. But the site stressed how easy it was to read. Maybe someday I'll see it in person and get a better idea - or hear from someone who owns the clock.

Ariane, how nice to hear from you again!

Cynthia Friedlob said...

I recall a college beer joint of many years ago that had a backwards clock on the wall. It often caused much concern among the new students who were unfamiliar with the place and lots of laughs for the regulars!