What Is an Analog Clock? - How Does an Analog Clock Work?

Learn what an analog clock is and how does an analog clock work with our in-depth informational article about analog clocks.

Updated: October 20, 2021

An analog clock is one of the most popular types of clocks used in the modern world. They can usually be spotted in school classrooms, offices, or people's homes. It's also usually what you find on a typical watch face.

Here's everything you need to know about analog clocks, including what they are, how you can tell if it's an analog clock and who invented them.

What Is an Analog Clock?

An analog clock is easy to recognize once you know what it is. They contain two or three hands that move in a circular, clockwise motion to show you the current hour, minute, and second on a clock face.

The clock face usually has 12 numbers, Roman numerals, or dashes to represent the hour. You'll usually find that an analog clock either makes a ticking sound as the seconds pass or has a 'seconds' hand that moves in a swift and consistent motion.

Who Invented the Analog Clock?

The first modern analog clock is thought to have been invented by the German Peter Henlein. In 1511, he created the very first spring-driven clock the world had ever seen. But his invention wasn't very reliable and was prone to mishaps.

A few years later, in 1525, Jacob Zech in Prague created an astronomical table clock with a fusee that functioned properly. It is also the oldest surviving spring-driven clock.

How Does an Analog Clock Work?

An analog clock has four fundamental parts to make it work:

  • A mechanism: which is a series of gears that move the clock hands using an oscillating wheel
  • An energy source: which powers the gears and is usually either a pendulum, a spring, or battery-powered quartz
  • A display: which is always known as the clock face
  • A set of hands: which enable you to tell the time

The continuous motion of the hands moving around the clock face, without any sudden jumps or breaks, is what makes it an analog clock.

How to Tell Time on an Analog Clock

Telling the time using an analog clock is easy when you know how to do it.

An analog clock will have three different hands that help you tell the time. This includes a:

  • Short hand: which represents the hour
  • Long hand: which represents the minutes
  • Red or very thin hand: which represents the seconds

When the short hand points to a number, it's telling you the hour of the day. For example, when it points to the number '2', it is 2 o'clock.

But to tell the time exactly, you'll also need to look at where the long hand is pointing since that represents the minutes. If the long hand is pointing to the number '6', while the short hand points to the '2', this tells you that it's 2.30.

Unlike a digital clock, an analog clock doesn't tell you whether it is the morning (am) or afternoon (pm).

Author: Burak Özdemir

My name is Burak, and I used to have difficulties waking up in the morning due to unreliable alarm clocks. Over the past few years, I've dedicated part of my life to finding the best alarm clocks and sharing my knowledge with people through this blog.