After World War II, design evolved from Art Deco and Streamline Moderne to Mid-century Modern, which reigned from the mid-1940s until the mid-1960s. No corner of the home was untouched by this new, casual, atomic-era aesthetic, including furnishings and accessories such as clocks.
The hint of timepieces to come began in the late 1930s, when the Glo-Dial Clock Corporation of Los Angeles began producing neon-illuminated clocks for business such as bars and garages. Most of these early Glo-Dials had neon behind the clock’s round frame to illuminate the dial (thus the company’s name), but later models had an additional ring of neon on the outside, too.
George Nelson was undoubtedly the most influential clock designer of the period. When he wasn’t designing furniture for Herman Miller Corporation he was working with the Howard M...
Nelson had countless imitators, from Seth Thomas to Elgin to Lux to Westclox, although for many contemporary collectors, these vintage Mid-century Modern clocks are every bit as desirable. For example, Seth Thomas made a wall clock with Roman numerals on its face and radiating metal spokes alternating with wooden fans.
Westclox also made sunbursts and starbursts, as these mid-century clocks are variously known, one of which had 48 spokes—some were made of brass and capped with wooden balls, others were solid wood and fashioned in the shape of menacing spikes. Elgin used teak and brass for its spokes, while Lux put flowers at the ends of theirs, creating so-called "atomic daisies." The faces of Lux clocks were also arresting—the dial of one design resembled a 1960s Pop Art red-and-orange bulls-eye.
Interviews & Articles
How did I get interested in clocks? Something about them has always been ingrained in me. My mom’s father had a small collection o… [more]
As a teenager, I collected everything from vintage bicycles to Coca-Cola to Victorian stuff. Once I realized some of this stuff co… [more]
I was working as a jewelry department manager for a department store, and I had a customer who brought a clock in for repair. I wa… [more]
Mid-century Modern used the technology of mass production to produce good-looking pieces of furniture out of the latest materials.… [more]
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
National Watch and Clock Museum
The Mid Century Modernist
Herman Miller Consortium Collection
National Maritime Museum
Dan and Diana's Lux Clock Collection
Work of Charles and Ray Eames
Detex Watchman's Clock Album
Clubs & Associations: Clocks
- Mid-Century Modern League
- National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors
- The Antiquarian Horological Society