Good afternoon, Autopians. In honor of daylight savings time, (unless you’re in Arizona or Hawaii…) my colleagues and I were discussing our favorite in-car clocks, and boy are there some good ones. Let’s take a look.
Our now-second-youngest writer, Thomas Hundal, is a fan of Bentley’s gorgeous glass Breitling:
Patrick George is taken by BMW’s simple, yet perfect E30 analog:
Why do certain cars have analog clocks in them, you may wonder? Why couldn’t they digitize it, like nearly everything else? Well, hold your wristwatches, I’m here to explain why. For some reason, I read a blog from a Mercedes dealership out in Scottsdale, AZ many years ago. The blog was naturally titled, “Why do luxury cars have analog clocks?” Here’s what the dealership had to say:
They help you keep track of your day and help you get where you need to go on time. Luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz offer analog clocks on the dashboard, not just because they are stylish, but also because they are functional. One of the main reasons automakers choose to put analog clocks in their vehicles is because it creates a focal point in the vehicle. They often use high-end watch/clock brands, which also gives an added statement of luxury.
Hmmm, I suppose they have a point here. Why should I, a wealthy Wall Street investor, look down at my wrist as I’m chauffeured down Broadway in my S-Class? I shall never do such a thing as vile as that! It also does act as a focal point, which I guess tends to bethe job of infotainment displays, these days.
How could I not talk about Porsche’s clock? No, not an analog clock. But a stopwatch! Available on 911, Macan, Cayenne, Panamera, and 718, the “Sport Chrono” package adds performance niceties such as launch control, motor-sports inspired gear shifting, and a stopwatch. Now Porsche owners can use your stopwatches to execute Porsche’s “winning together” slogan.
A few more notable automotive clocks:
An opulent car the Jaguar XJL is — the modern equivalent of a land yacht. If you ever get a chance to sit in one of these, front or back, take it! Look at that clock! Talk about a classy piece of art you can stare at awaiting your tow truck. (I own a Land Rover, so I can say this given that Jaguar and Land Rover are sibling brands).
I am a fan of the first generation Equus. I truly believe that it was a whole-hearted effort by Hyundai to challenge the likes of the 7 Series, S-Class, and A8. They’re a bargain these days, presumably more reliable than the Euros, and you get a retro-inspired clock!
What about the Chrysler Town and Country? Does it add a statement of luxury to your Enterprise rental van? They had a center dash-mounted clock. I imagine it was placed there for children in the backseat to keep track of how many minutes Mom and Dad spent spot-searching the parking lot at Disney World.
I feel it is extremely appropriate for the modern RX to contain an analog clock. Although the redesign for the 2023 model year ditched it, the RX was clockin’ until 2022! With a CD player! Old school, cool school. The buyer demographic seems to withhold this saying as well.
Hmmm. I’m not sure how I quite feel about this one. The Ghibli is an interesting car. Maserati’s have long paid homage to their origins, sporting analog clocks in most models since the 80s I believe. It just feels strange to see a Maserati-stamped analog clock over an 8.4 UConnect screen, no?
[Editor’s Note: I’m going to give a shoutout to some old-school rectangular clocks like this one that I have set aside to eventually install into my Jeep J10:
But this style of clock was ubiquitous all through the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s; behold all these Cadillac clocks for sale on the eBay listing titled “1957 1958 1959 1960 Cadillac Clock Lot”:
Now tell us, readers, what are your favorite in-car automotive clocks? Elegant or tacky? Functional or funky? Let us know!
My mom had a 1978 Lincoln Mark V which had a “Cartier chronometer” in the instrument panel.
Based on how well it kept time I’d bet a dollar it was a standard ford clock with a different faceplate.
Seeing some of these makes me super jealous, they look nice compared to that crap.
Car was gorgeous on the outside tho. Same champagne color as the first one on the page below.
The BMW E30 clock captures a certain Dieter Rams aesthetic that appeals to me (and is really a function of its era).
Then again, I’m a bit of a shameless BMW whore (at least up to the end of the E-series cars).
“Mom and Dad spent spot-searching the parking lot at Disney World.”
Tell me you haven’t been to Disney World without telling me you haven’t been to Disney World. 😛
Disney would never let the unwashed masses choose their own parking spot. When you arrive at the parks in the morning you are parked by one of their helpful cast members. It’s extremely rare these days to park at Disney World without an attendant directing you to the most baffling parking spot they can find. Even late in the day they’ll park you as far out as they can rather than let you take one of the hundreds of open spaces nearer the entrance.
Yes, I’m a bit salty about all this. Back in the day if you park-hopped late in the day you could often park in essentially the front row. Now you end up a mile from the entrance and have to waste time and energy walking in. Just one of many little (and big) things they’ve changed to make the parks less friendly and more micro-managed.
Oh, and we were talking about car clocks? Meh, give me digital. I want to know to the minute how late I’m running. 😉
If you are used to an analog clock, you can glance at it and easily see visual indicators of tens and quarters past or until a time. Which is quite nice since I am a visual person. There’s a reason many planes and boats have dials still. If a needle is dropping, you are more likely to see it than a change in numerals.
This is Autopian. Surely the best clock must be a clock which replaces the odometer in one of the cheap-ass shitboxes?
I really like the analog clock in my 91 Laurel. It doesn’t actually work anymore but it looks nice. It’s also almost exactly 52mm so on most Laurels, that clock got replaced by a boost gauge years ago but my car is non-turbo so the clock made it all these years intact.
The mechanically fuel-injected BMW 2002tii (late 60s – mid 70s) came standard with a VDO tachometer so they were fitted with a cool clock in the center of the dash.
The analog clock in my Town and Country is obviously trying hard to make it look more luxurious than it is… but I’m not ashamed to say I like it.
Also, everyone hates a minivan until it’s time to do minivan shit. Then people love them. We keep it around for road trips and it really can’t be beat.
A minivan is a ‘Right tool for the right job’…
Perfect for roadtrips and when you need to move +6 people in comfort at interstate speeds.
Or less people with a Ton of other crap.
Or you have multiple small kids in child seats
Or fold in to floor or take out the 2nd & 3rd row of seats to turn your minivan for light duty truck stuff… runs to the dump, hauling furniture, box store runs / home improvement stuff…
I have my cell phone mount stuck dead center on the face of the clock in my Town and Country.
That’s the real purpose of an analog clock these days… …to provide a central, highly visible place to attach your cell phone mount.
The oval clock in my Infiniti EX. I know, it makes no sense, but I absolutely love it and it’s likely what sold me on the car. That said, if I EVER want to know what time it is while driving I look at the digital display, and not this beautiful analog focal point that I’m supposed to use. In fact, I just changed the time on my clock this morning and forgot all about setting that beautiful analog fucker.
These days I just ask Siri. Telling time is one of the few things she’s actually good at.
I’m still a fan of the super minimalist cream faced clocks in early Infiniti interiors. My first car was the highly under rated J30 and if I could find a clean one I’d buy it immediately.
I may have a biased opinion here, but I’m a fan of the analog clocks in the VW Type 3.
Does anyone really know what time it is? Does anyone really care?
The VDO clock in Porsche 993 and below 911s for me.
Stern Teutonic perfection that makes Patrick’s BMW clocks look needlessly over-complicated, they’re the last in a row of perhaps the most functionally useful gauges ever produced from a factory.
Just watched our RX350 adjust the analog clock automatically. As a huge car guy, I am way more fascinated by that than I would like to admit.
The analog clock in my Cadenza is elegant and perfectly understated. Not too big, not too small, no fancy insignia on it either. Just a well functioning analog clock in a handy spot.
The one in my caddy. Simple, backlight, doesn’t look out of place.
Back in the day, when most of the cars I owned were far too old and crappy to have a clock at all, I just affixed a cheap wristwatch to the rear-view mirror.
That being said, Murilee Martin’s web articles on this subject are absolutely fascinating, especially when he gets one to work with his test kit.
My 2012 Cadillac CTS has a beautiful clock.
I agree, and they really want you do use it because they don’t put the digital time on most of the infotainment screens
When I was a kid, I got an answer wrong on a test about reading an analog clock. I definitely knew how to read a clock, so maybe I wasn’t careful and just slipped up. But I think the question had the arms like on that Breitling. What time is that supposed to show? Probably 1:50, but then why is the small arm pointing to the 2 instead of 5/6ths of the distance between 1 and 2? Is there such a thing as an hour hand that tics between hours like second hands often tic between seconds instead of gliding continuously?
Maybe that’s why I’ve always like digital clocks and watches more than analog.
Didn’t notice until you pointed it out, but that is weird. It looks like they were trying to set it to the standard watch-ad time of 10:10 (this is a thing, look at any watch ad, every one is set to 10:10) but got it backwards and ended up at 1:50.
Isn’t the 10:10 the desired time to be set to because it looks like a smile? Most clocks and watches you see for sale in stores are set that way too, it’s not just in advertising.
I never learned to read an analog clock properly…the teacher only spent about 30 minutes on the concept in class, and any attempt by my parents to teach me ended with screaming. They did get me a really neat watch that featured an analog clock alongside a digital display, but it got stolen by a classmate. Although I wear a traditional watch, I still prefer a digital display. (For some reason I don’t have trouble reading analog gauges, like those used in cars.)
I have 1973 W108 280 SEL Mercedes. It has a mechanical clock that is driven by the capacitor which charges the spring every minute or so, it is soldered together by very low temp solder that metls at 120C degree and EVERY? SINGLE ONE of them has that coil burnt. opened, cleaned, soldered (had to wait for that soldering wire) and ogt it to tick, howevere having hadr time adjusting ir to run more accurately, losing like 1 minute per hour 🙂
but you can hear it ticking in the car when the car is off and it is beautiful.
ALdo sgree on the BMW clock, I have OBC in my E28 BMW and I am planning to convert to just analog clock.
I like the funky clocks like the Memphis styled oval one in the Ford Ka mk1 or the pod one in Smart cars – or the weird oblong one in Maseratis.
My Figaro has a cute one in the (big) rev counter: I like that too 🙂
oh, you meant “c-L-o-c-k-s”…never mind
The clock on my Honda Crossrunner runs fast. It’s made me a quicker rider by making me think that I’m late all the time.
I do like the IWC in the Mercedes SL63 AMG, but I prefer the understated clocks used by Lexus
Has to be the Tic-Toc-Tach for me, as found in B-Body Mopars in the 60s: https://youtube.com/watch?v=ENrXruO9VX0&si=EnSIkaIECMiOmarE
That is super cool!