Why Are Clocks Round In Shape? Answering Queries


There are a lot of clocks that come in various forms but most of the clocks we see every day are round and all of them move in a circular motion, but why is it that they are round? Is there a specific reason behind this phenomenon? Let’s find out!

A decorative picture to better elaborate on "why are clocks round"

The Circular shape is considered linear and is in line with the motion of the hands of the clock, as they too have to move in a circular motion ( keeping the same distance from everywhere within the clock ).

A lot of the clocks that we used in ancient times didn’t consider shape and weren’t even circular. Examples include the water clocks, the hourglasses, the candle clocks. As their sole function was and still is to tell time and that is not affected by its shape whatsoever. Some experts do say that the initial shape was decided to be circular because of its symmetry and the overall happy and soothing shape that it in itself portrays, and some even say that it promotes a lighter mood. On the other hand, others say that there wasn’t any special reason for the clocks to be made this way other then it not being sharp and just being a bit more convenient.

Moreover, a few other things that are believed to have played a part in the initial formation of clocks being round are as follows

  • Inspiration from the sundials
  • Celestial bodies being round
  • What round shape represents
  • Sharp edges

Don’t worry, we’ll be looking into each and every one of these, in detail in a bit.

Fun Fact About Clocks

The Very First Guy Who Invented An Alarm Clock Was Presumed To Have Been Killed Due To The Nuisance He Caused Due To The Noise Early In The Morning

Inspiration From Sundials ( The Roundness Of The Clock )

Sundials were one of the very first timekeeping devices that we made. It used the shadow formed by the rays of the sun to help people identify what time of day it was. So many say that when it came to making clocks, a subconscious image of round shapes was already embedded in the mind. And this became, even more, the case when the convenience of this shape was realized

Celestial Bodies Being Round.

Most of the roaming bodies in the space are round in shape, moreover, they also move in somewhat of a circular pattern. So, by the time the very first mechanical clock was made, everyone knew that most of the natural things in space either were to some extent circular in shape, followed a circle-similar path, or were lined to the shape of circles. And considering that the very first mechanical clock that was made was an astronomical clock, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that clocks were initially made round

What The Round Shape Represents?

Circle/ round shape has also been long believed to represent, timelessness, all the cyclic movements, the infinite, and much more. Moreover, it also symbolizes the potential or birth of new things, along with how things stay connected and most of the time in form of a loop. And some experts (like we mentioned above) also say that the circle has symmetry no other shape does as all the points are the same distance from the center and the shape itself also promotes a lighter and happy mood.

Clocks With Sharp Edges

Nowadays, we can easily buy clocks with edges ( rectangular in shape ) and there are quite a lot of people that use and buy them. But these clocks put off a more sturdy and professional look which isn’t suited for everyplace, whereas circular clocks can be compatible with quite a lot of places.

Lastly, as time has progressed, another reason has merged and that is familiarity & habit, as most of the people out there have grown up with a round clock hanging on the wall. It just subconsciously has become a part of what we call home

Answering some other related questions

Why do Clocks run Clockwise?

A video answering why clocks run clockwise

Basically, it all stems down from Sundials which were one of our very first tries as humanity to mark and schedule a time and the people who first came up with the sundials were Egyptians and Babylonians, the geographical location of these places meant when a stick was placed in the ground under the horizon, the shadow would start forming in a clockwise direction by itself and then go on to revolve until the sun finally goes down.

This was what basically started off the so-called clockwise movement, So there wasn’t any other special reasoning for us to view time in the clockwise direction or for it to even be named clockwise, basically, history just enrolled in the way where the people who invented the sundials happened to be in a certain geographical location.

Now that we have looked much at the science behind how and why clocks are round and move round, let’s take a look into how these round clocks work

How does a clock work?

When most of the people ask the question that how does a clock work? they are mostly referring to how does the analog ( quartz ) clock work as that is the most common clock. And the first one that comes to mind when we think of a clock. So here is how an analog ( quartz ) clock work?

Clocks basically use 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 hand move.
  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. Til the appliance of the power remains intact
Elegant Alarm Clock | Unique Alarm Clock to better answer Why Are Clocks Round In Shape?

Just like the Analog clock, digital clocks also require batteries to run along with an oscillator and more or less works in the same fashion as them. The oscillator in a digital clock is usually in the form of a crystal that is made up of glass. And as the electric charge passes and goes through the crystal, it will cause a lot of vibrations and make a sound. This sound is then converted into an electronic signal. Which, through using a counter is converted to oscillations of 1 Hz oscillations. This is done through the work of various counters. The very first fo which would count 10 oscillations as one. And another one present alongside with it would count 60 as one ( or six 10 ones )

This basically becomes the base of hertz being one oscillation for one second. Each counter is connected with an electronic chip that then goes on to signal displays that goes on to signal the display and which then uses light to display the present time of the moment

The display is either an LED or LCD light display which is also referred to as the “7-segment display. The number seven here comes because there are exactly seven segments that can light up for displaying a number. To elaborate on this, the digit “8” uses all of these seven segments to display. These lights are located on the display in such a way so that they can easily display two sets of 2-digit numbers. The electronic innards of a digital clock are derived in a way that they go and change each four of the digits when an hour is up. And keep on going with a sequence and flow

A bit more about how they function

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

Digital clocks mostly use a 50 or 65-hertz oscillation of AC power or in other words a 32,768-hertz crystal oscillator as in a quartz clock to tell time.

Most of the digital clocks out there come with a 24-hour a day format. But some also come with a 12-hour option like in the analog clocks ( in this case, they show an A.M. or P.M. and many come with an option to work both ways. Lets dive into a bit more detail

Digital clocks have highly advanced in their evolution in recent times they are quite commonly used nowadays in forms of alarm clocks and sometimes also for decorative purposes. Now let’s look at some of the most interesting and advanced digital clocks

Hopefully, this article was helpful in answering “Why are clocks round in shape?” along with some other clock related questions. If you have any other clock-related question feel free to use the comment section below and stay tuned to ohmyclock for more interesting articles on clocks. And if you want to read an interesting article on why clocks don’t appear in dreams, we have a great article on just that so do give it a click if you are interested “Why don’t clocks appear in dreams? Clocks and dreams!Opens in a new tab.“. Here is also a link about the history of clocks if you want to give that a look “History of timekeeping devicesOpens 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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