Your Bag

Nothing in cart

Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise? The Fascinating Direction of Time

Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise? The Fascinating Direction of Time

The natural movement of the sun is one possible reason why clocks run clockwise. Find out the full explanation for this simple yet intriguing matter here!
May 17, 2024

Clocks are ubiquitous in our daily lives, serving as vital tools for tracking time and managing our schedules. With the rise of fashion and technology, we even have wristwatches that serve both practical functions and fashionable accessories. But, have you ever wondered, why do clocks run clockwise?

The phenomenon of watches ticking clockwise is indeed a common thing in our daily life – even most of us fail to notice the reason behind that design. Picture yourself positioned at the center of a watch dial, regardless of the direction you look, the clock hands will seem to move from the left to the right.

This seemingly simple phenomenon has its roots in history, culture, and human psychology. In this article, we’ll explore the intriguing reasons behind the clockwise motion of clocks and the factors that have shaped our perception of time.

Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise?


The convention of clockwise motion on clocks can be traced back to ancient civilizations and the sundials they used to tell time. Early civilizations such as the Egyptians and Babylonians noticed the natural movement of shadows as the sun traversed the sky. 

Sundials, which marked the hours using the shadow cast by a protruding object, followed the apparent movement of the sun, moving from left to right as the sun rose in the East and set in the West. As these early timekeeping devices evolved into mechanical clocks, the clockwise motion was retained as it aligned with the natural progression of the day.

Moreover, the concept of time has long been tied to the sun’s movement across the sky. The majority of cultures across the world consider the East as the direction of new beginnings and the West as the direction of completion or culmination. 

With the sun rising in the East and setting in the West, the clockwise movement of clocks mirrors this progression. This alignment with the sun’s path not only serves as a practical way to tell time but also holds symbolic significance, connecting time to the broader cycle of life.

Another plausible explanation of why clocks run clockwise comes from the notion that if you happen to be in the Northern hemisphere and you stand facing the Sun’s trajectory across the sky, you will witness it tracing a clockwise arc from the East, across the southern sky directly above, and ultimately towards the West where it sets. 

Crafting a sundial would result in its shadow progressing in a similar clockwise pattern, moving from West to North and then East (contrary to the Sun’s path). This theory suggests that early clocks were essentially mirroring the observable movement of the Sun and the gnomon (indicator) on a sundial.

Now you might question why the explanation from the Northern hemisphere seems to be the most correct one. The answer is probably related to the fact that the first mechanical clocks were first produced in the Northern hemisphere.  

Regardless, verifying the accuracy of those claims is challenging to confirm with complete assurance. However, there exists no mechanical justification for favoring a clockwise movement of the clock hands over counterclockwise motion (creating a clock with counterclockwise motion is equally feasible as crafting one with clockwise motion).

Read also: Timeless Treasures: Exploring The Oldest Watches in History

Psychological Impact

While the movement of the sun makes a reasonable explanation for why clocks run clockwise, others also mention the psychological impact of this matter. Human psychology has played a significant role in establishing the convention of clockwise motion on clocks. 

Research suggests that our brains are wired to process information in a certain way, and this has influenced how we perceive time. The left-to-right reading and writing orientation in languages like English has conditioned us to naturally interpret movements in that direction. 

As a result, the clockwise motion of clocks aligns with our cognitive processes, making it easier for us to read and interpret the passage of time.

Another Appeal from Counterclockwise Watches

Wearing a watch that runs clockwise has been the most common choice and looking at its another version might sound odd, right? It’s peculiar to buy and actually wear timepieces with counterclockwise motion but there are few of them available in the market.

Watches that run counterclockwise, also known as “anticlockwise” or “reverse” watches, offer a unique and unconventional approach to timekeeping. While they are not as common as their clockwise counterparts, they hold a unique invention in horology. 

Moreover, it’s also important to note that not many famous brands produce anti-clockwise watches for their collection. You can still find anti-clockwise watches in the market from several brands, such as Seiko

We’ve uncovered a Swiss-crafted timepiece bearing the rather unexpected label “Bolshevik,” featuring hands that move in the opposite direction (most likely as a tribute to leftist ideals). Furthermore, if you browse through platforms like eBay, locating Seiko Lorus quartz watches with counterclockwise hands, often referred to as “Goofy” watches, shouldn’t pose much of a challenge.

At Prague’s Jewish Town Hall, there exists a clock that operates in the counterclockwise direction. This particular town hall boasts a dual-clock arrangement. The upper clock, adorned with Roman numeral indicators, adheres to the conventional clockwise movement. In contrast, the lower clock is adorned with Hebrew markings and operates in a counterclockwise manner.

Final Thought

While we’ve been indulged with discussions around watch recommendations and some how-to articles, asking why clocks run clockwise is a little bit of refreshing the journey in horology. 

Until today, the sun’s movement seems to be a plausible explanation of clock motions. As time continues its inexorable march forward, the clockwise motion of clocks remains a steadfast reminder of our intricate relationship with time.

Read also: Why Do Military Personnel Wear Watches Inside the Wrist?

You may like this

Related Articles

Compare watches
Comparison Chart

No watches in comparison chart

Artboard 1
Artboard 1



Lug width

Water resistance


Lug Width
Water resistance