How does an Analog Clock work?


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Analog clocks use the oscillators to keep the gears moving. And the movement of the gears prompts the minute hand to move which then turns and makes the hour end move. All of these movements seek to achieve perpetual ( smooth motion ). The oscillators that make the gears move are powered by either direct electrical appliances or batteries. Batteries are the most way of supplying power to these time-telling machines, but when clocks were still a bit new, people also used to use a direct connection with electricity to supply clocks with power

Analog clocks are one of the most common types of clocks that are still being used quite commonly in this day and age. But, despite living with them every day and night, very few of us know how they actually work. That is why we here at ohmyclock decided to answer that very question. Now that we have got you a basic sense of how an analog clock actually works, let’s dive a dip more into what it actually contains

Insides of an Analog clock

Three of the most fundamental parts of every clock out there are :

  • A TimeKeeping Mechanism: This is a way that the clock keeps an accurate account of the time passing by
  • An energy source: This is a way to provide energy to the motion of the clock, this could be a battery, solar power, an electric appliance, springs, or anything of that sort
  • Display: Finally, this is the part that everyone sees. This can come in quite various designs. It could be a cartoon character or an antique-looking wooden lady, entirely depends on the maker and what he wants his/her work to look like

So, Simply put,

A clock is something that uses the energy supply from an energy source, to makes its hands move at a consistent pace so that it can tell the variations in time spans

How does it all work? ( Looking in a bit more depth )

  1. So basically what happens is that the battery or the power source provides to the microchip circuit within the clock
  2. Then this current makes the quartz crystals that are precisely cut and placed within the clock to vibrate at a speed of 32768 times a second.
  3. TheMicrochip circuit detects the crystal’s vibrations and turns them into regular electric pulses, at a speed of one per second, because as we know that is what is needed for the accuracy and normal functioning of the clock
  4. These electric pulses then turn to mechanical power and move the gears
  5. The one gear that moves makes the other gear move. Hence, making the clock tick every second. Till the appliance of the power remains intact

Down below is a picture of the insides of an analog clock to better elaborate the procedure that we just mentioned

A picture explaining the insides of an anlog clock to better elaborate"How does an analog clock work?"
A picture from explainthatsuff.com Opens in a new tab. to better elaborate the insides of a clock
  1. Battery.
  2. Electric stepping motor.
  3. Microchip.
  4. The circuit that connects the microchip to other components.
  5. Quartz crystal oscillator.
  6. Crown screw for setting time.
  7. Gears.
  8. The tiny central shaft that holds hands in their places.

Now that we have looked into how analog clock work, lets dive a look into how some other types of clocks function

How Do Atomic Clocks Work?

Atomic clocks are clocks that measure the oscillations (movement) of atoms. This is pretty complicated stuff, but the basic concept is that all atoms of a given element vibrate or tick the same number of times per second. To elaborate, there are 9,192,631,770 ticks in one second. And though this number seems a bit weird, it is quite important. Since today the international standard for what a second is based on that many vibrations/ticks of a cesium atom

Atomic clocks have a big impact on our world as a whole. But how does the atomic clock affect our daily life

Let’s start with the internet, where exact timings are critical. And atomic clocks as we know by now is what helps with that accuracy. Moreover, for GPS satellites to work out your precise position, your timing of the signals it sends and receives has to be super accurate. The signals travel at the speed of light, which means that an error of even a single microsecond error translates to an error of 300 meters on the ground. The timing has to be so precise that even tiny effects like relativity need to be tracked. So we do have Einstein to thank for that because if we didn’t have his equations we wouldn’t have a GPS.

To be exact with each and every microsecond GPS satellites have to carry atomic clocks. The more accurate the clock is, the more accurately the GPS can calculate your location

How Do Astronomical clocks Work?

It is a clock that displays astronomical information to whoever that takes a glance. It tells information like the relative position of the sun, the moon, and sometimes even major planets. To represent months, the astronomical clock uses zodiac. Moreover, the zodiac signs are more often displayed inside the time dial. Also, to project the movement of the earth, the clock features it in the center of the clock

A picture of the astronomical clock to better answer "What are the different types of clocks?

The oldest astronomical clock is well over 600 years old and is named as the Prague astronomical clock. And surprisingly it’s still functional. It did however stop functioning a few times but was repaired to keep the functionality intact. Most of the astronomical clocks out there have a 24- hour analog dial around the edge. And the current time is told by a picture of the sun or a ball at the end of the pointer

How Does A Slave Clock Work?

Its a clock that depends on other clocks for accuracy, that clock is known as the master clock. They might be connected through the internet or by radio time signals or even to  Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). These clocks come in many different shapes, some of them are analog and other wall clocks that use and are connected to the atomic clock in Colorado

A picture of a slave clock to better elaborate "How does an analog clock work?'

For scientific purposes, these clocks are some of the most accurate clocks that we can use in our daily life. This synchronization between the slave and master clock is done by phase-locking the slave clock. Moreover, to adjust for the transit time from the time when the time from the master clock is received to the slave clock, the phase of the slave clock can be adjusted with respect to the signals from the master clock. This will mean both clocks are in line with each other. And, hence each second occur simultaneously in both clocks

How Do The Candle Clocks Work?

This came to be in China in near 500 A.D. An example of how it worked is that as the candle burnt down whilst the passing of the day the time would be determined by seeing how much the candle has already burnt and which mark it has crossed. To further elaborate, here is a picture

 A picture of the candle clock to better answer "How does an analog clock work?"

Then came the mechanical clocks in the 14th century which soon became the standard. It started off by having a weight hanging from a pulley that turned the geared the single hand. Which indicated the hours as well as the portions of the hour. Then came the spring-wound clocks in the fifteenth century. This was around 1400 A.D. when coiled springs began to be used in clocks. And as most of the locksmiths were also clockmaker, hence they were simultaneously introduced in clocks too.

If you want to know more about candle clocks “Click Here

How Do Grandfather Clock Work?

A grandfather clock is a tall, mostly standing, near 6 to 8 feet tall clock that with a pendulum held inside the tower and or the waist of the clock. It is most elaborately carved and gives off an antique look. A grandfather clock is a symbol of exceptional cultural significance. Its functionality and design gave it a special place in the world of clocks. The grandfather clock had a deep attachment to the lives of people around it, for it told the household members and servants when to work, when to eat, and when to rest.

This was a big jump in the clockverse when we talk about accuracy. This clock became popular trough the famous scientist Galileo and was the most accurate type of clock till 1930. It was officially first invented by Christian Hyuugans.

A picture of a grandfather clock

A pendulum is the main timekeeping element of a pendulum clock. Clock pendulums are usually made out of weights suspended on a wood rod or a metal rod. In better clocks, the weights are usually heavier as it increases the accuracy of a pendulum. The pendulum is kept in its momentum with the help of an escapement. Each time the pendulum swings through its center position, it releases one tooth of the escape wheel.

How Does The Sandglass Work?

Probably, the most famous of ancient clocks and there is a high chance you have at least seen it. The sandglass consists of two glass bulbs which are vertically connected with a narrow neck. The neck allows some amount of sand to pass through the upper glass to the lower glass. Usually, the upper and lower glasses are exactly alike, so the sandglass would measure the exact same time regardless of its orientation

A picture of a sunglass clock to better elaborate How does an Analog Clock work?

The first sandglass clock is said to have been made by a french monk named Liutprand during the eighth century A.D. The sandglass clock is also known as the hourglass as it could only tell when an hour was up. They were used to set off blocks of time. And hence, they were all designed to measure one hour. Nowadays if you wish to buy an hourglass/sandglass for decor, there are some that cost thousands of dollars due to their unique history.

How Does A Water Clock Work?

The first device used to measure time was the water clock back in the 5th century B.C. To elaborate, some amount of water was put in a vessel. That was allowed to escape through a hole in the bottom. The time determined varied according to the size of the vessel and the hole made at the bottom

A picture of an ancient water clock to better answer "How does an Analog Clock work?
What are the different types of clocks?

It was all before we had the liberty of wearing fancy clocks on our wrist. Or even the scientific knowledge to make the atomic clock. Which helps function the internet as well as the GPS system properly. So, how was it possible for anyone to maintain some kind of a schedule. And then sundials were made which made it possible to navigate through time but they only worked in the day time. So, Egyptians thought of making a time measurement device using the most common liquid around, water. They were educated enough to know that as the level of water in a container drops, the outflow of the stream coming out of the hole made will also drop

How Do Skeleton Clocks Work?

A skeleton clock is a clock in which the internal functioning part of the clock is visible. It is mostly just to showcase the design and intentionally view the plain view of the gears, springs and wheels. A major part of the clock should be the openly visibly from the front of the clock

A picture of  a skeleton clock to better elaborate How does an Analog Clock work?
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These clocks mostly display the parts that move the most are just attractive to look at. These could be the balance wheel, balance spring, mainspring,  tourbillon, or the escapement. These clocks are often used as gifts or to give a better look to the already set decor of the house.

Hepefully this article was helpful in clearing up some of your doubts and educating you about clocks if you have any related questions feel free to use the comment section below and if you are wondering about which clock is the most accurate, we have a great article on that too so do give it a look if you are interested”Which Clocks Are Considered The Most Accurate?Opens in a new tab.

AK Iqbal

A University of London’ student with a passion for writing. Clocks have always intrigued me and the importance that they have in our lives is way beyond phenomenal. So, on this site, I write everything about clocks, everything from answering any clock-related queries that you might have along with recommending some of my favorite clocks accordingly. Moreover, I will also be conducting some researches on clock related topics and sharing the things that I learn. So stay tuned to ohmyclock for all the fun clocks related content

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