The differences between analogue and digital clocks

05 May 2022

Digital vs Analogue clocks

The humble clock is arguably one of the greatest inventions in history. Without it, our days would run into each other like wet cement and we’d forever be cast adrift, wondering where we were meant to be and why it mattered. But while the iconic mechanical clock face device with hands and dials might very well be the more iconic design, digital clocks are significantly more usable.

Analog and digital clocks can be found in all corners of the earth. But what are the primary differences between them and why have digital clocks almost completely superseded their analogue cousins as the most popular time-telling devices on the planet?

Analogue and digital

On an analogue clock, two or three hands rotate on a numbered dial to reveal the time. The long thin hand points to the seconds, the short-hand points to the minutes and the long thick hand points to the hours. This is a system that has been in place for thousands of years with its basic mechanics dating back to when we would use sundials to tell the time.

With the advent of digital technology in the 20th century came the desire for a more reliable and accurate way of telling the time. While the first numerical clocks were being invented way back in the 1880s, it wasn’t until the 1950s that they started to break through into the mainstream thanks to companies starting to utilise the then-fledgling digital tech. 

These clocks used electronic displays to reveal the time in numerical format, either in traditional or 24 hour time. This set the standard going forward and, while more advanced digital displays have started to implement numerical time, standalone digital clocks remain incredibly popular in situations where accurate time is 100% necessary.

The benefits of digital

  • Digital clocks can be set to display any number of languages, whereas analogue clocks will generally be set in just one language.
  • Whereas analogue clocks are generally difficult to read in certain situations and at certain angles, digital clocks are illuminated and are significantly easier to read.
  • An analogue clock can only ever essentially offer an approximation of the current time whereas digital clocks can be set to the exact second or even millisecond. In situations such as exam hall environments and other testing situations, this can be a vital differentiator.
  • In darker rooms or rooms where lighting is an issue, digital clocks are significantly more readable most of the time.
  • Many digital clocks can also be used as timers and some might have even more unique features that you wouldn’t find with analogue.
  • In situations such as warehouse and factory floors, durability is incredibly important and digital clocks are generally more rugged than analogue clocks.
  • While digital clocks are more expensive from the outset, they will typically run from mains power, whereas analogue clocks will often require batteries. These batteries can and will run out and this could lead to calamity if the clocks have essentially frozen for hours on end because somebody neglected to change them. You are unlikely to have the issue with a digital clock.

Of course, there are always going to be situations where old fashioned analogue clocks are more desirable due to their aesthetic value. Home use, for example. But for most businesses, punctuality and reliability are always going to be more important than looks so digital clocks will always be a time-honoured favourite.

If you wish to enquire about our range of digital LED clocks, feel free to reach out and contact Spectra today.

Image: Yuzach /

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