The Iconic Designs of Mid Century Modern Clocks

The Iconic Designs of Mid Century Modern Clocks

Fresh air – that is what mid-century design is based on. Emerging from the post-World War II era, marked by a hunger for renewal and progress, it has proven itself to be a mix of beauty and simplicity. Its simple yet cozy style, with clean lines, natural shapes, and materials, was indeed the fresh air that people really needed. Every part of the home was influenced by this new, casual, atomic-era style, including furniture and accessories like clocks.

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What Are the Mid Century Modern Clocks?

Mid-century modern clocks can be described as more functional and less formal timepieces with clean lines, reach wood tones, solid colors, and man-maid materials such as metal, glass, plastic, and fiberglass. They reflect the aesthetics and design principles of the mid-century modern movement. Their functional approach, combined with a minimalist yet artistic style, is perfect for those seeking something modern, stylish, cozy, and unique.


Iconic Designs

Mid Century Modern Clocks frequently exhibit organic forms inspired by nature or bold, geometric patterns. Quite interesting and unusual designs, often featuring straightforward shapes, emphasize functionality but also serve as decorative pieces, reflecting the belief that everyday objects should be both useful and beautiful. But who designed them? Who came up with the idea and made the most iconic clocks back then?

George Nelson Clocks

The first name that pops up in everyone’s mind is George Nelson – one of the most famous American industrial designers, who gifted the world an impressive 130 clock designs in just three decades!

George Nelson came up with two insightful observations while designing the clocks. First, that people would no longer use the numbers to tell the time. Second, that interior clocks from then on would become more decorative in nature.

The George Nelson Ball Clock, crafted in 1949, is his first clock and one of the most iconic designs of the mid-century modern era. The Ball Clock had a playful and innovative, purposefully abstract design – a central clock face from which radiate spokes with colorful balls at their ends, creating a starburst or atomic structure appearance – that complemented the modernist furniture emerging at the time.


Popular Styles

The most popular clock styles of the mid-century modern era are known for their bold designs, minimalist faces, and vibrant colors, embodying the essence of mid-century modern aesthetics. They remain iconic symbols of the era's blend of functionality and artistic expression in home decor.

Sunburst and Starburst Clocks

The Sunburst and Starburst clocks are two iconic styles when you remember the mid-century modern clocks. Both wall clocks feature a central clock face with radiating spokes that give them a dynamic, eye-catching look. The Sunburst Clock has softer, more rounded spokes that look like sun rays, while the Starburst Clock has sharper, more pointed spokes that resemble a star. The spokes can be made of metal, wood, or a combination of materials, and often feature bright colors or metallic finishes.

These clocks were designed to be both functional and decorative, adding a stylish touch to any room. Their unique, playful designs make them standout pieces that capture the essence of mid-century modern aesthetics. The spokes are often made of metal or wood, and the clock face is usually simple, with minimalistic hands. The clock can come in various colors, often with a mix of natural wood tones and metallic finishes.

Minimalist Wall Clocks

The Minimalist Wall Clock from the mid-century modern era is known for its simple and straightforward design. It typically features a plain clock face with basic markings, such as hour and minute hands without numbers. The focus is on keeping the lines clean and using basic geometric shapes, reflecting the minimalist style of that period.

Atomic Age Clocks

Atomic Age clocks are accurate and reliable timepieces characterized by futuristic designs inspired by scientific advancements and space exploration. They often feature sleek, streamlined shapes reminiscent of rockets or atomic structures, with bold, bright colors and materials such as chrome, plastic, and fiberglass commonly used in their construction.

Colors such as turquoise, orange, and yellow were popular during this period, and they were often used in combination with black and white to create a striking contrast. These colors were intended to reflect the sense of optimism and excitement that characterized the era.

Retro Desk Clocks

Retro desk clocks have a nostalgic style with simple designs that sit nicely on desks. They often feature clean lines and basic clock faces, sometimes with bold colors or interesting details. Frequently made of metal, brass, and glass, every mid-century desk clock was constructed with great care. These clocks reflect the style of the mid-century period, offering a blend of functionality and vintage charm for any workspace.


Materials and Colors

As you can see, after the War, home designs became simpler and more practical, with less emphasis on formality. The availability of new materials allowed for the mass production of household items. Clocks back then were typically crafted using a variety of materials such as wood, metal, plastic, and occasionally glass or ceramic, offering designers new possibilities for creating innovative and affordable timepieces.

The color is one of the most important factors for mid-century clocks. Common colors included natural wood tones, bold primary colors like red, blue, and yellow, as well as muted shades like gray, white, and black. These materials and colors were often combined to create stylish and functional clock designs that reflected the aesthetic of the era.


The 3 Mid-Century Modern Howard Miller Wall Clocks

Howard Miller was and keeps being a major figure in the mid-century modern clock field.In the 1940s, Howard Miller and George Nelson began a collaboration that produced a series of iconic clocks. Nelson, along with his design studio, created a variety of innovative and visually striking clocks for Howard Miller that are now considered classics of mid-century modern design.

Mid-century modern clocks are still popular and would be a great addition to your home if you're looking to bring in some fresh air. Howard Miller still offers a collection of clocks inspired by mid-century modern period.


The Howard Miller Ball Wall Clock 625333 will send you back to the classic George Nelson design, originally produced by Howard Miller in the 1940s. The design features a brushed nickel-finished center, surrounded by 12 black satin balls on nickel-finished rods, and black hands, creating a stylish duo-tone look. This design makes it easy to read the time. The clock is powered by quartz movement, one AA-sized battery and is ready to be displayed in various rooms like the kitchen, office, bathroom, bedroom, or living room. Also, the price will pleasantly surprise you.


The Howard Miller Ball Clock II Wall Clock 625527 is a modern take on a 1940s George Nelson design, featuring a brushed nickel center and twelve black satin balls on nickel rods. The clock's style and simple details, like black satin hour and minute hands, give it a unique look that fits well in any room. It's easy to maintain with its battery-operated quartz movement, needing only one AA battery. This retro wall clock is a perfect blend of style and function. Premier Clocks offers an additional sellers discount code for this wall clock.


The Howard Miller Sunburst Wall Clock 625543 works well both indoors and outdoors, featuring a sunburst design inspired by George Nelson in 1950s. tside. It has a sunburst case made from sturdy, powder-coated metal. The tempered glass resists breaking, and rubber seals keep moisture away from the dial. This clock also shows weather details, with two small dials displaying relative humidity and temperature. It's perfect for a covered porch, deck, kitchen, or sunroom. The clock runs on battery-powered quartz movement for reliable timekeeping.

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