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!
Don’t forget it works when your car is off. Useful when taking a lunch break in your car for example.
Rolls Royce used to boast that their cars are so quiet that you could hear the clock over the engine and road noise.
Or maybe they just used really loud clocks.
Not necessarily for the styling, but they are nice, the clocks on a VW Type 3. They are both electric AND mechanical. The electrical portion thumps the mechanical spring and the mechanical clock ticks away. When the spring gets low, the electic part thumps the spring again in a perpetual loop. Or at least until the 12v battery runs down.
I remember when I was a kid, there were a lot of cars with (analog only, back then) clocks. And not a single one of them ever worked.
(That’s really all I have to offer on this one.)
There was a lovely analog clock in one of the early Infinity models.
> 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.
* says the analog clock isn’t just stylish, it’s also functional
* proceeds to list points about style
* lists no point about function
Car dealer copy all right
Call me weird but I always liked the oh so European 24 hour digital clock in early 80s Volkswagens
It’s nice not having to reset clocks living in AZ. Alas, the nature of my actual job means because the vast majority of our customers do, I still have to spring forward and fall back personally. It sucks.
The VDO in the 911 is my favorite.
90’s Saabs are my favorite:
What I like about it is its understated, but uses the exact same scheme as the gauges on the dash. It looks like it belongs, lights up at night, but looks better than a digital diplay.
2017-2019 Genesis G90 has a snazzy old rolex style clock mid mounted on the dash.
Amateur horologist here, the cool thing about the completely stupid Bentley clock is that it’s a real mechanical movement, basically a scaled up automatic wristwatch. It’s completely stupid because, an electrically powered clock is far more accurate, it has a tourbillion?*, and it’s like a $160K option. Literally nothing Breitling is with $160k unless it was once on Newman’s wrist or something. However one clock I was hoping to see was the clock(s) in the Toyota 2000GT, it has a regular clock and a completely awesome stopwatch, I absolutely love how the sub hand (probably minutes) overlaps the larger seconds track and the 10th second wheel at the bottom.. (black and white spinner) I don’t think I’ve seen this on any car of the era, proving this was a track day car some 50 years before that was a thing.
*A tourbillion is a complication meant to counteract the effects of gravity on the watch regulation (the balance wheel) which is effectively useless, as it hopes to add a few milliseconds of accuracy to a movement that at best has an accuracy of +/-6 seconds per day.