Time is something that we all have in common, and it governs the way we exist. When we try to describe time, we find ourselves stumbling, yet we rely on it to go about our daily activities. Clocks are...

Clock Tattoo Meanings

Time is something that we all have in common, and it governs the way we exist. When we try to describe time, we find ourselves stumbling, yet we rely on it to go about our daily activities. Clocks are the machines we use to track time, so it’s no wonder they’re a popular tattoo design. There are several variants of clock designs which can represent anything from mortality to ancient wisdom. If you’re interested in learning more about the history and meaning behind clock tattoo designs, as well as top styles and placements for clock tattoos and other designs that match well with clock tattoos, check out our article!

The History of Clocks

The clock is one of the oldest human inventions, with our current system of measuring time through units of 60 dating as far back as 2000 BCE with the ancient Sumerian civilization. The Egyptians tracked time with obelisks and water clocks, the Chinese and Japanese used candle clocks, the Persians used a timestick, and Europeans used hourglasses and sun dials.

As you can see, throughout our history, we human beings have invented countless (pun intended) ways to keep track of time, but one thing has remained consistent: our use of and reliance on clocks as a way to measure and keep track of time. They are objects that are central to our lives, something that we check dozens of times a day sometimes without even realizing and that govern both our larger society and our personal lives.

This being the case, it’s no surprise that many people turn to clocks as inspiration for tattoos to permanently mark their bodies. There is no denying that clocks and time are incredibly meaningful to the human experience, and there are many different ways one can get a clock tattoo and different potential meanings that a clock tattoo may symbolize for a person.

Clock Tattoo Dictionary

Generally speaking, a clock tattoo might symbolize a range of meanings from simply time to life and death, mortality, existence, infinity, endless love, stability, and structure, or referencing a specific special moment in one’s life.

And when designed in a certain specific way, a clock might have even more particular meanings. Here are just a few types of clock designs and what they might represent.

Melting Clock Tattoo Designs:

This classic image appears in Salvador Dali’s paintings, and it symbolizes a delusional or dynamic experience of time.

Grandfather Clock Tattoo Designs:

This vintage design can symbolize ties to one’s past or nostalgia for an earlier time.

Pocket Watch Tattoo Designs:

This eye-catching piece of jewelry honors special events in one’s life.

Prison Time Clock Tattoo Designs:

This tattoo design features a broken clock without hands, and it signifies the prisoner’s long sentence.

Stopwatch Tattoo Designs:

This tattoo design usually honors a timed event in one’s personal life, like a personal best in a race.

Sundial Tattoo Designs:

The sundial tattoo represents ancient wisdom.

Timeless Clock Tattoo Designs:

This tattoo design features a clock face with no hands, and it symbolizes losing track of time or disregard for the passage of time.

Top Clock Tattoos Styles

One of the most exciting parts of clock tattoos is that they look good in so many different tattoo styles.

Realistic Pocket Watch Tattoo

Source: https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRpYiLrza9LZ9h6k7GnqnBzBhEwJUIKvEIpJg&usqp=CAU

Realistic Clock Tattoo

Many people like to get clock tattoos in a realistic style, especially if they are doing them in a larger size. When your browse images of clock tattoos, you may notice that this is probably the most common style choice as it creates a very striking and powerful effect.

Geometric Minimalist Tattoo Design

Source: https://i.pinimg.com/736x/ab/ec/c8/abecc829e5296edf416469af028c09b6.jpg

Geometric Clock Tattoo

By nature, clocks lend themselves very well to being designed in a geometric style because they already have so many distinct shapes and sharp angles within them.

Line Work Clock Tattoo

Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/828521662670836097/

Line Work Clock Tattoo

If you’re looking to get a clock tattoo that is on the smaller size, it’s best to simplify it as much as possible so it is still clear what it is even on a small scale. For this reason, small clock tattoos tend to work best in a line work style with simple, graphic lines.

Best Places for Clock Tattoos

When choosing placement for a clock tattoo, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that a clock is round. For your clock tattoo to be as recognizable as possible, you need to be able to see the entire circle at once. So if you get a large clock tattoo on your forearm, for example, it will have to wrap around the arm, which might warp the way the circle looks. That’s why large clock tattoos are best to get on parts of the body like the upper arm (like as a sleeve), the back, the chest, or the thighs.

What Works Well with Clock Tattoos?

As we mentioned above, it is by far the most common decision to create a clock tattoo in a realistic style. But where you’ll see the most variation in clock tattoos is in the other design elements that people choose to combine their clock tattoos with. Here are just some of the other imagery that goes well with clock tattoos.

Blue Eye and Clock Tattoo Design

Source: https://jeanniealyce.blogspot.com/2021/01/eye-clock-rose-tattoo.html

Eye Clock Tattoo Designs

A common combination with clock tattoos is an eye, which represents a meeting of organic humanity with a more mechanical, structured, and manmade timepiece.

Red Roses and Clock Tattoos

Source: https://bodyartguru.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/colorful-design.jpg

Flower Clock Tattoo Designs

The clock face combined with a rose represents everlasting love.

Skull with Rose and Clock

Source: https://www.pinterest.es/pin/811070214113737469/

Skull Clock Tattoo Designs

Perhaps the most straightforward design, the skull clock represents mortality and death.

Clock and Cogs Tattoo

Source: https://www.tattoodo.com/p/234901

Clock and Cogs Tattoo Designs

Clock tattoos that incorporate the cogs of the clock as a visual element represent inner workings, hidden reality, and the complexity of emotions and the human psyche that are contained beneath a beautiful facade.

Ultimately, we’re all bound by time, and clock tattoo designs can represent multiple important human truths. Whether you’re celebrating a momentous life accomplishment or you’re simply taken by this elusive fourth dimension, a clock tattoo can be a meaningful symbol to get tattooed on your skin.

See More Tattoo Meanings

Check out our growing list of amazing tattoo designs and their meanings.

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