What Are the Main Types of Clocks?

What Are the Main Types of Clocks? - Premier Clocks

Timekeeping has been an essential part of human existence. The evolution of timekeeping devices went from the ancient sundials to the modern atomic clocks but the purpose of any clock is measuring and organizing our lives.

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


Historical Types of Clocks

Throughout history, numerous types of clocks have emerged, each reflecting the technological advancements and cultural influences of their time. Let's explore some of the significant historical types of clocks.


Water Clock

Water clocks are one of the oldest time-measuring instruments. A water clock or clepsydra is a timepiece that measures time through the controlled flow of liquid into (inflow type) or out from (outflow type) a container, with the quantity of liquid serving as the measure.


Hourglass Clock

An hourglass clock is a historical device that was used to measure the passage of time. It comprises two glass bulbs connected vertically by a narrow neck that let a sand to pass from the upper bulb to the lower one.



A sundial is a device that uses the Sun's altitude or azimuth (or both) to show the time. In its simplest form, a sundial comprises a flat plate called the dial and a gnomon that casts a shadow onto the dial. As the Sun's position changes throughout the day, the shadow aligns with various hour-lines marked on the dial, enabling the determination of the time.

The style refers to the edge of the gnomon used for time-telling, although a single point or nodus may also be employed. The gnomon's broad shadow is an indicator of time, with the shadow of the style indicating the hour.


Candle Clock

A candle clock is somewhat an alternative to a sundial. Candle clocks provided an effective way to tell time indoors, at night, or on a cloudy day. The device has a thin candle with consistently spaced marking that, when burned, indicates the passage of periods of time.


Types of Clocks Based on Design

When it comes to clocks, there are various types based on design that cater to different preferences and aesthetics.

Types of Clocks Based on Design - Premier Clocks


Grandfather Clock

A grandfather clock is a tall, freestanding, weight-driven pendulum clock. The design of a grandfather clock is determined by the length of a pendulum that is held inside the tower or waist of the case. That's why grandfather clocks are famous for being at least 6–8 feet tall. Grandfather clocks can have an eight-day movement or one-day (30-hour) movement.

The design of a grandfather clock can be from simple, modern to elaborated traditional. Often, grandfather clocks have various features. Many people love these floor clocks for the chime melodies that sound every quarter hour. At the same time, most grandfather clocks feature automatic chime shutoff option to add convenience.

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Wall Clocks

A wall clock is a popular type of clocks that is designed to be mounted on walls. Wall clocks vary in sizes, the material of the clock, the features it has, what movement runs the clock. Many wall clocks have a pendulum to power the mechanism and function similarly to a grandfather clock. Modern wall clocks tend to have quartz movement which is easier in maintenance.

In current trends, popular wall clocks have an oversized design which is a great pick that ensures public use and helps keep everyone on the same schedule. In addition, the best wall clocks are ones where the numbers can be easily viewed.

➤  Find your perfect Wall Clock at Premier Clocks.

Cuckoo Wall Clock

A cuckoo clock is a type of a wall clock that strikes the hours with a sound like a common cuckoo call. In some cases, the cuckoo clocks have a small door on the front that pops open, and a cute automated bird comes out with each note. The modern cuckoo clocks are eccentric and are available in a variety of unique designs (not just birds!).


Mantel Clock

Mantel clocks are relatively small house clocks traditionally placed on the shelf, or mantel, above the fireplace. A mantel clock was a result of the spring mechanism invention. It allowed the production of smaller clocks as the power to run the clock was provided by a wound spring instead of the dropping weights. In contrast to wall clocks, whose movements were attached to the back board, the mantel clock had its movement supported by a seat board.


Analog Clock

An analog clock is a traditional type of clock and most often using famous clock face. Analog clocks display time through the use of hour, minute, and sometimes second hands moving around a circular dial. The clock face is marked from 1 to 12.

Analog clocks can use either mechanical or quartz movement. A mechanical analog clock relies on a complex system of gears, springs, and escapements to regulate the movement of the hands. A quartz analog clock uses a quartz crystal oscillator as their timekeeping element, which provides accurate timekeeping by converting the crystal's vibrations into electrical signals.


Digital Clocks

Digital clocks is a type of clocks that displays the time digitally (i.e. in numerals or other symbols), as opposed to an analogue clock. A digital clock has a digital display, for example LED (Light-Emitting Diode) or LCD (Liquid Crystal Display). A digital clock is the a popular choice for children learn to read the time, without struggling to understand the minute and hour hands.

Digital clocks are often associated with electronic drives, but the "digital" description refers only to the display, not to the drive mechanism. Digital clocks can be driven either mechanically or electronically. They often include additional features like alarm functions, date display, and backlighting.


Types of Clocks Based on Mechanism

Clocks can be categorized into various types based on their mechanisms or the way they operate.

Types of Clocks Based on Mechanism - Premier Clocks


Clocks with Mechanical Movement

A mechanical clock relies on a complex system of gears, springs, and escapements to regulate the movement of the hands. This type of clocks require manual winding to store energy in a mainspring, which gradually releases to power the clock's movement.

Clocks with mechanical movement have weights that can be cable-driven or chain-driven. The type of movement doesn't affect the accuracy but differ in how you wind up the weights.

Mechanical clocks often have an audible ticking sound that some find soothing while for other it's irritating. Despite of digital clock progress, mechanical clocks have a big advantage - they can be used at any time regardless of the weather or electricity (power outage). They have an internal oscillator that allows them to measure time.


Quartz Clock Movement

A quartz clock is a type of clocks that utilizes a quartz crystal oscillator to create electronic rhythm movement. The crystal's vibration is converted into electrical charge from the battery that are then used to accurately measure time. Quartz clocks are more precise than mechanical clocks.

Since 1980, quartz clocks have become the world's most widely used timekeeping technology that is used can be used in a wall clock, a floor clock, a tabletop clock.


Electric Clock

Around 1840, the electric clock was invented, and the technology has only improved since then. As opposed to a mechanical clock which is powered by a hanging weight or a mainspring, an electric clock is one that powers its movement and timekeeping mechanism by electricity. They can be synchronized with an electric power source or run on batteries.


Atomic Clock

Atomic clocks rely on atoms and are highly accurate. To measure time, this type of clocks uses the vibrations of atoms (typically cesium or rubidium). The natural oscillations of atoms act like the pendulum in a grandfather clock but much more precisely.

Clock transition states in atoms are insensitive to temperature and other environmental factors and the oscillation frequency is much higher than any of the other clocks. This make atomic clocks are the most accurate timekeeping devices available.

Atomic clocks are used as the standard for international timekeeping and play a vital role in scientific research, satellite navigation systems, and telecommunications.

Radio-Controlled Clocks

The time from the atomic clock is broadcast by low-frequency radio waves that are stable enough to travel 1000 miles from its origin and follow the curvature of the Earth. A radio clock receives signals from atomic clocks via radio waves, allowing them to automatically synchronize and adjust their time to the most accurate standard. These clocks are popular for their precision and convenience.


Battery-Powered Clock

A battery-powered clock is a type of clock that operates using electrical energy stored in batteries. Instead of relying on a power outlet or manual winding, these clocks use batteries as a convenient and portable power source.

A battery-operated mechanism is popular among modern grandfather clocks, floor clocks, wall clocks, table clocks and shelf clocks. Modern clocks either run on batteries or have a battery back up. In case you do not want to commit to the duty of winding theclock regularly, then a battery powered clock is the right choice.


Solar-Powered Clocks

Solar-powered clocks have a new alternative way to harness energy. The clocks collect the energy from sunlight or artificial light sources to power their timekeeping mechanism. This type of clocks often features solar panels that convert light into electrical energy, which is then stored in a rechargeable battery to ensure continuous operation.

A solar-powered clock is an ecological clock that is friendly to people and the earth. It's harnessing non-polluting energy sources such as sunlight and using a rechargeable battery with the aim of reducing environmental burden.


Pendulum Clocks

A pendulum clock uses a swinging pendulum as part of their timekeeping mechanism. The pendulum's oscillations regulate the movement of the clock's gears, ensuring accurate timekeeping. It swings back and forth in a precise time interval dependent on its length, and resists swinging at other rates.

Pendulum clocks are often associated with classic and traditional designs. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, pendulum clocks in homes, factories, offices, and railroad stations served as primary time standards for scheduling daily life, work shifts, and public transportation.

A pendulum influences significantly the design of a clock. For example, pendulum wall clocks can be short, or they can have a very long pendulum that hangs down from the face of the clock.


Types of Clocks Based on Purpose

Clocks can be categorized into different types based on their purpose or intended use. Each type of clock serves a specific function and is designed to meet particular needs.


Alarm Clock

Most alarm clocks is a desk clock and it's rare to find a floor clock with an alarm function. An alarm clock is a type of clock designed to wake people up or remind them of important events at specific times. The majority of alarm clocks make sounds; some make light or vibration.

Digital alarm clocks have become more popular due to their soft glow and easy-to-read displays. Nevertheless, alarm clocks are also available in analog forms with numbers and Roman numerals.

Alarm clocks can be powered by different sources, such as batteries, electrical outlets, or a combination of both. Battery-powered alarm clocks offer portability and can be used even during power outages. An alarm clock powered by electrical outlets eliminates the need for frequent battery replacements.


Outdoor Clock

An outdoor clock is built to withstand exposure to various weather conditions and provide both functional and decorative benefits. It's possible due to their specific design for outdoor use. An outdoor clock is usually placed in outdoor spaces such as gardens, patios, or public areas.

But outdoor clocks also can be used indoors in the areas with special conditions. For example, an outdoor clock is a good option for a bathroom where the humidity is high or a cellar where the temperature can be quite low.


Musical Clock

A musical clock is a clock that marks the hours of the day with a musical tune. They can be considered elaborate versions of striking or chiming clocks.

Musical clocks are programmed to play a variety of melodies or tunes. The selection of melodies can range from traditional folk songs to classical compositions, popular tunes, or even seasonal melodies associated with holidays or special occasions.


Astronomical Clock

The purpose of an astronomical clock is not only displays the time but also to provide information related to astronomical phenomena. Astronomical clocks can show the positions of celestial bodies, astronomical events, and other astronomical measurements.

Traditional grandfather clocks often feature a moon phase dial. The moon dial follows the 29.5 lunar calendar and shows the position of the moon in the sky.


Antique Clock

Nowadays, the specific purpose of antique clocks is to be a part of collection. Antique and clock collectors and enthusiasts actively seeking for special models and can pay a good price for a desired model.

For example, antique faux gold clock is one of the famous timepiece for be sought.


Multi Display Clocks

The multi display type of clock can be either analogue or digital. These innovative timepieces feature multiple screens or panels to display a wide range of information simultaneously. For example, multi display clocks can show multiple time zones, have multiple faces, or use several time standards.

One of the examples of a multi display clock is a smart home clock. These clocks are connected devices that integrate with smart home systems. They feature multiple displays to show not only the time but also information such as weather forecasts, calendar events, incoming messages or calls, and even control options for other smart devices in the home.


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