Clock Symbolism: Decoding the Secrets Beyond Ticks and Tocks

Jovana Petrovic
17 Min Read
clock symbolism

Clocks have played a pivotal role in human society. They’ve guided us through unchartered waters, helped us keep our lives in order, guided farmers through seasons and harvest crops, and made our parties start on time (well, most of the time).

But clocks are not just about time. They hold significant personification of Symbolism, Motifs, and Metaphors in various cultures and traditions.

Sometimes, the universe tries to communicate or warn you through clocks, like those dreams of clocks or seeing a busted clock in your home or workplace.

And this is what we’re diving into in this article.

In this article, we will explore some of the most crucial symbolism of clocks and their relation to dreams, life & death, spiritualism, literature and arts, and more. 

What Do Clocks Symbolize?

The symbolism of clocks goes beyond their practical applications. 

Some important symbolism of clocks 

Importance of Life

Clocks are like a reminder that our time on earth is finite. Each tick of the clock is a moment that is gone for good. We need to cherish each moment of our life. It’s a nudge to appreciate every bit of life without wasting it on stuff that doesn’t matter.


Clocks give that whole urgency vibe. It continuously reminds you that you can’t have all the time in the world to finish your task. Once you acknowledge this, you determine your priorities and ditch the distractions.

Cycle of Life

In some cultures, clocks are all about the circle of life. Birth, death, and rebirth- it’s like they’re showing the whole life cycle in those tick-tocks. 

Growth and Progress

Clocks have played an important role in humanity’s fast-forward progress. Without clocks, we’d probably still be lounging around. it’s like clocks have been standing as a testimony to our progress and growth, and they are cheering us on to level up, physically and spiritually. 

Spiritual Meaning of Clocks

spiritual meaning of clocks

In a spiritual context, clocks symbolize the importance of appreciating life in the present moment while continuing one’s journey of spiritual growth

It also calls for self-reflection and the awakening of our inner wisdom and strength. 

Clocks also serve as a source of synchronicity and divine guidance, especially when you see a specific time or pattern in a repeated sequence, also known as angel numbers.

Seeing them repeatedly means the higher power has a message for you. Learning about angel numbers can help you to interpret these divine callings and make meaningful changes to your life.

Clock Prophetic Meaning

The Clock has several references in the Bible as the words of God himself. 

Old Testament 

Clocks are mentioned in several passages in the Old Testament.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, God describes time as a season of everything. It involves planting and harvesting of crops, which in a way, symbolizes God’s sovereignty over time. 

In Zechariah 8:19, it is revealed that God has power over times and seasons, signifying his divine power over everything in the world.

New Testament 

Time is linked with making important decisions in life or spreading God’s words at the right time. Spiritually, seeing clocks in dreams is interpreted as a message or warning from God, asking you to use your time wisely.

Mentions in New Testament

Galatians 4:4: Angel Gabriel told Mother Mary that she would give birth within the “fullness of time.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8: It is stated that there is a specific time for every purpose under heaven.

mother mary

Clocks as Guardians of Time

Before the invention of wristwatches and personal clocks, clock towers were used to serve as Guardians of Time, allowing people to synchronize their daily activities.

They act as the city’s focal point and are constructed in a place accessible to a large section of people, giving cities their unique identities. 

Clocks played a significant role in bringing the communities together. These large clocks used to have bells rung by the authorities to announce time, celebrations, emergencies, and other information.

With the changing times, the relevance of clocks has also changed in the modern era, while their essence remained the same.

These clock towers still stand tall, reminding people of their past while giving them hope for a better future. 

The Symbolic Anatomy of Clocks

Hands of time

The hands of the clock, typically the hour, minute, and second hands, can tell a lot to us. The second hand moves quickly, reminding us that life is moving fast and we must move fast to catch up with the world.

Meanwhile, the hour and minute hands move slowly, which says that not everything can be achieved through haste and shortcuts. Bigger achievements in life take time and patience. 

The Circular Face

The circular face of a clock symbolizes perpetuity, cycles of births and rebirths, unity, and completion. 

It tells us that life works in circular and non-linear, which means what goes around comes around. As humans, we should learn from our mistakes and take necessary steps, ensuring it never happens again, or history can and will repeat itself.

Numbers and Markings

The numbers in a clock represent the structure and order in life. In some cultures, these numbers carry special meanings that significantly influence your life. You can find numerological interpretations of time on the clock.

For example, understanding the numerology behind your birth time can uncover a wide range of information regarding your personality, love life, career, life’s purpose, and many more.

The Symbolism of Clock Hands in Different Positions

At 12 O’Clock

When the clock ticks 12, it indicates a reset of time or life. It means starting your life anew on a clean slate by leaving your old life behind.

It can also be interpreted as a decision point where you must make hard or bold choices in life or embark on a new journey.

At 6 O’Clock

When the hands of the clock are at 6, it could symbolize a challenge or a test of time. In fact, there are many interpretations of this symbolism.

As one of the hands is facing downward, it could mean you are at a low point in life. But as the hand positions are going to change, so is your life. 

The time 6 O’ clock also speaks of an incomplete phase of your life. A clock completes its journey when the hands reach 12.

At 6, it’s only halfway through its journey- thus representing an incomplete journey. It reminds you not to give up on your goals, as you are just halfway through your journey to success.

Clocks as a Reminder of Mortality

The connection between the clock and mortality comes from Father Time, an ancient character portrayed as an older man with a scythe, which most farmers use to cut crops during harvest. 

father time

The scythe also symbolizes the natural cycle of birth, growth, and death. So it is believed that Father Time holds the scythe of time that will cut down all living things in the end.

Similarly, the hourglass is an ancient device used for timekeeping. Each grain of sand falling represents the passage of time. However, just like turning the hourglass upside down resets the time, people see it as the start of something new. 

Clocks in Dreams and Their Interpretations

Clocks in dreams represent how we perceive time and its relation to our lives. If you see a clock in your dream, it signifies the universe’s nudge to check on how you use your time. The exact interpretation, however, requires specific details of the clock in your dream.

For instance, if the clock was ticking with loud racing hands, it shows your present life that weighs heavy, burdened under responsibilities.

On the flip side, a broken clock signals your life’s standstill- maybe relationship, career, or health. You need to make the necessary adjustments to get out of it.

Clocks in Funerary Symbolism

Clocks are usually seen as a symbol of death, afterlife, and hope in funerary aspects. The hands of the clock never stop for anything, even for death. The person you love may not be with you, but you must continue with your life. 

In some religions, people engraved clocks on gravestones. The clock usually shows the hour of death of the departed.

There are traditions where people stop the clock to acknowledge the death of their loved ones as a gesture of respect.

Sometimes, it is accompanied by other customs such as covering the mirrors, turning off the lights, or opening the house’s windows, allowing the soul to depart.

Clocks in Modern Tattoo Art

A clock tattoo has innumerable symbolism attached to it. For some, it is simply life, while for others, it is death and mortality.

Some people also associate clock tattoos as a sign of endless love, infinity, stability, and special moments. 

Some Modern Clock Tattoo ideas

Clock Tattoos are often inked with other designs to create new symbolisms.

  • The Melting Clock tattoo is one of the most famous tattoo designs that appears in Salvador Dali’s Paintings. It symbolizes delusion or a great experience in your life.
  • The Grandfather clock tattoo is for people who want to commemorate their nostalgia in a fun way.
  • A stopwatch tattoo is pretty popular among athletes. It reminds them of their greatest achievement.
  • A timeless clock tattoo features a clock with no hands. It is popular among travelers or globetrotters who believe in personal freedom and don’t want to be in the shackles of time. 

Timepieces in Literature and Art

the persistence of memory by salvador dali

Regarding literature and art, clocks carry great motifs and metaphors. They symbolize power & oppression, guilt, conscience, and much more.

Some examples of classic literature and art and their links to clocks:

The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali: The melting clock in the painting symbolizes the fleetingness and fluidity of time, which draws similarity to the nature of life.

The Clock by Arshile Gorky: The abstract painting includes a fragmented clock, which represents the elusiveness of memories and how hard it is sometimes to grasp those memories.

The Clock of Life by William Holman Hunt: It includes a figure holding an hourglass and a clock. This symbolizes that time keeps on moving and waits for no one.


Clocks have left a significant mark in the history of humanity, shaping our perception and our lives as a whole.

The symbolism of clocks is timeless, ever-evolving, and transcendental.

May the symbolism of clocks keep inspiring us to live our life purposefully, embrace change, and never stop persevering for success. 

I have tried to cover every important piece of information around clock symbolism.

But, still, if you didn’t find the answer to any particular question or have an interesting theory to share, please let me know in the comment section.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What does it mean when a clock stops working in a dream?

If you dream of a paused clock, you should brace yourself for a significant shift in your life.

The change can come in the form of a new relationship, a job opportunity, or anything else.

The dream could also be an indication of your ignorance towards your surroundings. Maybe it is a warning from the universe, telling you to pay attention to the people and everything happening around you. 

How do I interpret the position of clock hands in my dreams?

If your dream shows the hands are moving forward, the universe tells you to move forward with life.

It could mean you are about to be presented with an opportunity and need to seize it for your benefit.

If the hands are moving backward, the answers you’ve been looking for lie in your past. If you have an ongoing problem in life, try to revisit your past and find out where you have gone wrong. 

Can clocks really affect human behavior and productivity?

Since childhood, we have been conditioned to live a timebound life. So, obviously, clocks do affect our behavior and productivity on both conscious and subconscious levels.

It helps us stay punctual and aware of our to-dos. Sometimes, just by looking at the clock, your mind goes back to productive mode.

You start wondering whether you have something left to do or you get a sense of urgency to finish your pending tasks.

Is Broken Clock bad luck?

It is believed that broken or dysfunctional clocks have negative energies surrounding them.

Exposing yourself to these energies can negatively impact the quality of your life, including loss of money, and facing health or relationship issues.

In fact, keeping such items is bad for you and anyone exposed daily to such a negative aura. It is imperative to replace any broken clock in your home as soon as possible to avoid bad luck. 

Is gifting a clock good or bad?

In some cultures, gifting a clock or watch is considered good luck or a sign of respect.

It is a symbolic way to commemorate the time you spend with a person and a sweet gesture to the person that you want that person to stay in your life.

Surprisingly, according to Chinese culture, gifting a clock is considered as bad luck or a curse and is usually considered rude.

This is because the phrase “sòngzhōng” in Chinese means both “giving you a clock” and “attending your funeral.” 

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Jovana Petrovic is a writer, holistic tarot reader, and traditional Western astrologer. She possesses clairaudient and clairvoyant abilities, which she uses to help others tap into their purpose, release old patterns, and realize their fullest potential. Her practice blends intuitive guidance with psychic tools, knowledge, and experience. As a graduate Pedagogist and spirituality enthusiast, Jovana uses her expertise to help people navigate through their spiritual awakening and heal their inner child. Besides tarot and astrology, she practices incorporating shadow work, self-love techniques, and chakra healing.