It’s been said that time is the most valuable thing a man can spend in his lifetime. With that in mind, it’s quite easy to see why the measurement of time can have such a meaningful impact.
When it comes to clock tattoos, there are numerous designs any man can go with. From the simplistic sundials to the ultra-complex pocket watch movements.
Regardless of what catches your eye, it’s important to understand the unique ideas clocks represent. For some men clocks can be a symbol of two things: Life and death. A simple explanation indeed, yet clocks can also provoke more deep thinking and thought.
For instance, hours, minutes and seconds can symbolize the perfection of time, which never stops or misses a single beat. They can remind of us of things like stability or even our own living existence. However, as time ticks on you might also view them as an idea of an endless infinity.
And while time never stop, you can be certain of one thing: It will always catch up to you.
No matter how you interrupt these instruments of time, I’ve put together a collection of 80 clock tattoo designs for men that are sure to inspire. From clocks with delicate roses to those bounded by unbreakable steel chains. These masculine men’s ideas will make you start thinking about your next future tattoo.
1. Clock/Eye Combination Tattoos
Eyes make great subjects for tattoos for a number of reasons. First off, the variety of the shapes and colors in eyes provide opportunity for different styles and applications. There is also something fundamentally intriguing about the human eye: the observer is naturally drawn to these powerful images. They can also be incorporated with other elements—in this case clocks—to great effect, creating a deeper significance and making for more interesting tattoos.
2. Faces of Time Tattoos
Clocks started as simple tools to tell time and quickly evolved into intricate works of art and technology. Prior to the modern digital revolution, clocks were the pinnacles of engineering: the precision and complexity that was involved in creating accurate time pieces prior to the development of digital technology is astounding. The attention to detail that went into these timepieces didn’t stop at functionality. The talent on display meant that clocks and watches became some of the most beautiful expressions of art and creativity—specifically the clock faces—and thanks to this aesthetic they make for great tattoos.
3. Cogs Tattoos
At the heart of these powerful time pieces lay the cogs, wheels and springs that allowed for accuracy and longevity. The craftsmanship in these time pieces is incredible and the deeper significance that these inner workings hold is equally as interesting. When applied to a tattoo, revealing the cogs of a watch or clock can represent the complexity of the wearer’s emotions and psyche, all contained beneath the beautiful façade of the watch face. These tattoos are the embodiment of the phrase “still waters run deep”.
4. Skull Clock Tattoos
The ultimate representations of our own mortality, skulls have been common elements in tattoos for decades, and they still hold plenty of symbolic weight. Skulls make for great tattoos thanks to the variety of styles that can make use of these designs, and when incorporated into clock tattoos they gain a special significance. We are all racing against the clock, with a finite amount of time laid out before us, and a skull and clock tattoo is a great way to let the world know that you are fully aware of your limited time on this earth.
5. Abstract Clock Tattoos
Art is one of the most profound aspects of humanity, and the ability to observe the outside world and recreate it in a more creative way is fundamental to the human experience. The way that abstract art is able to provide the means of both creation and interpretation of complex ideas is what separate us from the animal kingdom.
Applying this artistic approach to clocks and timepieces can make for beautiful art that is deeply meaningful: one only has to look to Dali’s iconic melting clocks in The Persistence of Memory to the see the creative potential for an abstract interpretation of clocks.
6. Top Drawer Clock Tattoos
To be top drawer is to be of the highest quality, and these are some great examples of what is possible for clock tattoos. By utilizing black and gray, as well as color ink, these artists are able to create powerful scenes incorporating these timepieces that hold deep meaning for the wearers. Thanks to the varied significance that people ascribe to clocks and watches, and the creative potential for these designs, means that they make for great tattoos.
7. Classical Antiquity Clock Tattoos
The characters that arose out of classical Greek mythology set the bar when it comes to drama and spectacle. From Hercules and his 12 Labors, to Icarus’ folly of melting wax wings, there is an incredible amount of material to draw upon and endless significance that can be assigned to these powerful myths.
The symbolism only deepens when clocks are incorporated into these classic designs: the finite nature of time is a powerful concept that can transform or enhance the meaning of other elements in a well-planned tattoo.
8. Clocks and Geography
While clocks are man’s attempt at interpreting time, the work of geography and cartography is his effort to understand the physical world. Incorporating these two different disciplines into one design can create beautiful tattoos that represent the wearer’s quest for knowledge and understanding in this, often chaotic, world. Whether full color or black and gray, clocks and maps make for excellent, complimentary design elements.
9. Broken Clock Tattoos
Perhaps the most symbolically powerful of all the different timepieces we’ve examined, the broken clock holds deeper meaning. If clocks represent man’s understanding of the finite nature of existence, then a broken clock often symbolizes the wearer’s indifference towards this aspect of life. These tattoos demonstrate the way the wearer lives in the moment, valuing experience and casting the importance measuring time to the wayside.
10. Pocket Watch Tattoos
Pocket watches were once a symbol of luxury and wealth, with bespoke gentlemen carrying and displaying these ornate timepieces as a form of functional jewelry. While few if any men still carry these interesting chronographs, they continue to maintain a connection to a time of luxury. Pocket watches are also great elements to incorporate into tattoos thanks to the opportunity they provide to add details, like lettering, elaborate shading and decorative filigree.
11. Clocks and Roses Tattoos
Roses are a classic element of tattoo design and artists have been inking these beautiful flowers on peoples’ bodies for decades, for good reason. Flowers in general hold deep significance for many people thanks to the variety of important life events—weddings and funerals are just two—that use flowers as part of the ritual. Flowers are also powerful design elements thanks to the important role that scent plays in memory: sometimes just the smell of a certain flower can transport someone through time and space.
Roses, often associated with romantic love and fidelity, work great in tattoos thanks to the variety of colors they take and the way that a talented artist can use them either as the focal point of a tattoo, or simply as decorative filler to complete a design.
Clock Tattoo FAQ’s
What does a broken clock tattoo symbolize?
Clocks are powerful symbols that can represent a number of different concepts and relationships. At its core, the clock is often seen as a one of man’s first great achievements in the eternal quest to observe and measure the world around him. By examining the world and accurately describing it through math and science we have realized some sort of dominance over it, although when we scrutinize the nature of time we realize that this couldn’t be further from the truth.
A broken clock is often used as a symbol for a freedom from the endless passage of time. However, since we all know that time waits for no one, perhaps a better analysis would suggest that a broken clock is better suited to represent the eternal nature of time, and the futility of trying to measure and quantify all of the disparate elements of the universe.
Whatever the case, these beautiful designs are packed full of significance and the true meaning of a tattoo is up to the wearer.
Looking for more time tattoo inspiration? Check out the links below for more awesome galleries: