100+ Timeless Clock Tattoo Ideas (With Meanings)

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The clock tattoo is a timeless tattoo design, that holds a lot of meaning and has a great aesthetic.

A time clock tattoo can be done in any style, making it easily adaptable into a custom tattoo design.

Clocks are symbols of the passing of time, and its passing being the only constant in life.

Designed to measure, record, and indicate time, the clock is one of the oldest instruments invented by humans.

Looking for more clock tattoo ideas and their meanings? We do a deep dive below!

Every Tattoo Has A Story – Clock Tattoo Meaning

So, what is the clock tattoo meaning?

To go to the root of it all, the clock is one of the oldest instruments invented by humans.

Before the invention of the first clock, ancient civilizations observed nature and used deductive reasoning to tell time.

Around 13th century the mechanical clock was invented, out of need for a more dependable time-keeping method.

So, the foremost meaning of the clock is depicting time and its passage.

Even though time is eternal and not something we can control, the clock tattoo is our reminder that we have a limited amount of it on eart.

We use clocks to honor special moments of birth and death, as well as important moments that have changed us.

As the clock moves, so does life. It’s not possible to reset time by turning back the hands of the clock, so it is important to recognize its value and make the most of every precious minute.

Here are some of the feelings people try to convey by getting a clock tattoo:

  • Honoring Life and Death of The Loved Ones – Clocks are considered to be a symbol of life and death, and as such people use the clock tattoos to hint the date and time of birth or death of their loved ones. Additional meaning would be the clear sign that nothing remains permanent in life and that everything changes at some point or other.
  • Feeling Of Time Pressure – Clocks can symbolize feelings of time pressure. They can also serve as a reminder that time should be used wisely as it is a limited resource.
  • Feeling Overwhelmed By Imminent Events – A clock can also signify emotional overwhelm caused by something in one’s life, perhaps a tight schedule or a deadline that needs to be met.
  • The Previous Life Lived – for people who turned their lives around use clock tattoos to memorize this past life and where it brought them to now.
  • Passage of Time – Clocks are also thought to represent the passage of time, which moves forward relentlessly, and once gone can never be recovered.
  • Life is Precious – Clock tattoo can be used as a symbol that means that each minute is precious, and that it’s important to live every minute of one’s life to the fullest.

There are many spiritual meanings for a clock.

One interpretation is that a clock symbolizes the ticking of time and the inevitability of death, and this interpretation is used in both men’s tattoos as well as women’s tattoos. This can be a reminder to live in the present moment and make the most of our time on earth.

Another meaning of a clock is that it represents the cyclical nature of life.

Just as the hands of a clock move in a circle, we experience the ups and downs of life. This can be a reminder to stay positive even during tough times, knowing that they will eventually pass.

Best Clock Tattoo Placements

Due to their circular shape, clocks are very easy to be used in tattoos both big and small.

Small clock tattoos are commonly put on arms, be it wrist or inner forearm.

Many times clocks are mixed together with flowers such as cherry blossoms, daisies, roses, sunflowers, and all other birth flowers for birth clock tattoos.

For a bigger scene, you can go for a clock tattoo sleeve, and use clock and time as the main theme of your sleeve.

Find our best ideas for clock tattoo drawing ideas below!

Clock Tattoo Ideas

To help you with your research for your next tattoo design, we went on a hunt through Instagram to find the best clock tattoo ideas.

Take a look below to check them out all:

Small Clock Tattoo

Small clock tattoo is a great way to use just the clock as the main and only symbol of your tattoo.

It can be done in many styles, and it can be done with any type of a clock – mechanical, pocketwatch, digital clock, and many others.

Birth Clock Tattoo

When it comes to family tattoos, many choose to honor their family members (children, parents, and siblings) through using a clock with their birth time.

These birth clock tattoos are also commonly surrounded by birth flowers, or with some decorative filigree, scenes from life, and similar.

Broken Clock Tattoo

Brocken clock tattoo can draw its meaning that comes from other forms of art.

In film and literature, a broken clock can be a motif about the distortion of time, being stuck in time, or being frozen in time.

In books, a broken clock often appears at a time of foreboding, being used in depiction of the scenes as decoration on the walls at times of hardship.

For some, broken clocks can also mean the stopping of time or the desire to be free from time pressures.

Rose Clock Tattoo

Clock and rose tattoo consists out of two classic symbols in arts and literature.

The rose is a common symbol of love and passion, representing eternity.

So, it’s only logical to combine it with another symbol that signifies eternal love, to give a stronger message of dedication.

Feminine Flower Clock Tattoo

One style that is very easy to accomplish with a clock is a feminine flower clock tattoo.

Some common flowers that are combined with the clock are:

You can combine them with other such as lilies, orchids, as well as leaves and vines.

Melting Clock Tattoo

The Persistence of Memory is a 1931 painting by artist Salvador Dalí and one of the most recognizable works of Surrealism.

The famous melting clocks represent the omnipresence of time, and identify its mastery over human beings.

It is said that Dalí’s inspiration for the soft watch came from the surreal way that he saw a piece of runny Camembert cheese melting in the sun.

These symbols represent a metaphysical image of time devouring itself and everything else.

Grandfather Clock Tattoo

A grandfather clock is a tall, freestanding, weight-driven pendulum clock with the pendulum held inside the tower or waist of the case developed back in 1670.

Nowadays this clock is considered as a vintage clock type, and as such it hints at nostalgia as one of its meanings.

Grandfather clock tattoo is often chosen to symbolize nostalgia for events that have passed or for people we loved, such as our grandparents, or our childhood homes.

Hourglass Tattoo

Long before the mechanical clock was developed, humans used many other devices to track time.

One of them was the hourglass (or the sand clock), believed to have been created by a monk in 8th century France.

As we all know, the hourglass is made out of two globes and a narrow neck between them. The sand passes from the upper one through the neck down to the lower one, and depending on the amount of sand, it measures different time units.

What hourglass clock tattoos signify with this is second chances, turning your life around and repeated life choices that helps us succeed.

Clock Sleeve Tattoo

Clock sleeve tattoo is rarely consisting solely of clocks, but it can be an option.

Usually the clock is the most prominent element on either the lower or upper arm part, and the scene around it adds more meaning to it.

It can be a Celtic design around it, mandala or tribal patterns, a compass for a naval theme, or even just some animals that further hint at our loved ones.

This part depends on what the clock sleeve is meant to represent – passage of time, family, or something else.

Skull Clock Tattoo

Skull clock tattoos are a bit darker in their style and message.

Being very connected to the meaning of death and mortality, it can refer to the memento mori sentiment that invites us to ‘remember our death’.

This meaning is drawn heavily from the skull part of it, further strengthened by the meaning of clock overall.

Are you looking for a custom clock tattoo design? We got you.

Our expert tattoo artists will provide a quick initial draft to get you going.
Happy inking ❤

Milena Petrovic

Milena Petrovic

Co-founder of Tattoo Stylist

About the author

Milena has decided to start an organization that will create a safe environment for everybody to get their first, second or third tattoo and to encourage young people to transform their ideas into tattoos safely, with talent and vision.

You can find her writing about tattoos on Quora or updating our Pinterest profile with awesome tattoo ideas!

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