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 Miller Clock Co. on a series of marvelous modern wall clocks. He made clocks whose hands pointed to colored balls on the ends of slender shafts; clocks that resembled sunbursts, sunflowers, and asterisks; and even a clock that suggested a human eye.
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.