Ever wonder why most clocks are round? It’s not just because it looks good! Round dials actually make perfect sense for telling time. Here’s why:
Easy reading: Imagine a clock face shaped like a star or a square. Telling the time would be tricky, right? A circle lets us spread out the numbers evenly, making them easier to read at any glance.
No corners to hide: With a round dial, every minute and second has its own dedicated spot. There’s no confusion about where the hand is pointing, unlike a clock with corners or odd shapes.
Symmetry and balance: Round dials naturally feel balanced and harmonious. This makes them visually pleasing and calming to look at, which is important for something we often check throughout the day.
Space-saving: A circle takes up less space than other shapes for the same amount of information. This is especially helpful for smaller clocks that need to fit snugly on walls or tables.
Universality: Round clocks are found everywhere, from ancient sundials to modern wristwatches. This shared shape helps us understand time instantly, no matter where we are in the world.
So, the next time you check the time, appreciate the simple design of the round clock dial. It’s more than just a pretty face; it’s a clever and efficient way to tell time!
The dial to a clock is also known as the face of the clock. It is the part where the numbers are that tell you the time of day.
All about clock dialsDials and NumeralsDial DrillingAbout BezelsStyles of DialsClock Crystals
Please view these tabs for information on clock dials that Clockworks offers and all the variations available.
Clock Dials and Numerals
Clockworks offers a variety of shapes and colors of clock dials and numerals. Of course the dials come in round, square, moon top and more. Many of the round dials have a choice of white, ivory or gold.
Create a new dial out of any type of material and then use the numerals to finalize the look. Most of the numerals are plastic, however we do offer two different sizes of gold aluminum numerals.
These are generally for Grandmother and Grandfather clocks. The aluminum numbers need to have epoxy to hold them in place. They do not have sticky backs like the plastic numerals. Here are some tips to order the correct clock dial and numerals.
Arabic or Roman Numerals
Clock dials and numerals come in either Roman or Arabic. Roman numerals on dials are the kind that have letters to represent the numbers.
For example, the 12 would be XII and five is written as V and so forth. The number 4 was IV in roman numerals, however the new style is IIII.
Dials come in many sizes in an attempt to cover many case styles. The sizes in the list are the overall diameter from side to side for each.
Often there is another measurement known as the time track. A time track is the small ring that travels around the just outside of the clock numerals.
In other words, the time track is the measurement of the dial from outside the 3 to outside the 9. Clock hands are usually half of the dial diameter. So clock dials and numerals will come in variable sizes to accommodate various case styles.
Clock Dials and Numerals - Types of clocks
Use these clock numerals on any type of clock dials providing the size is correct and it looks appropriate. We recommend using extra epoxy on the sticky numerals because they tend to fall off easily.
The hardest clocks to find a dial for are the antique mantle clocks. These take a bezel and glass combination that often installs on the dial itself. Use best judgement on what clock dials and numerals look best.
This hole is typically 3/8 of an inch wide. Drill the holes 3/8 wide in the exact spot where the winding arbor of the movement will be. Only one chance to get it right per dial so make sure to line it up perfectly.
Mark the spot to drill
This can be done by putting the dial over the clock movement while the movement is on its back. Place the dial over the movement so the hand shaft is in the center of the hole.
At this point there are two options to mark the exact spot to drill. The first method is to squeeze a marker between the movement and the dial back.
Mark the back of the dial where the winding arbor will be and therefore the spot to drill. Second, which is the easier and more exact way, is if the dial is thin enough push down with your hands so dimples show up in the dial. The downward pressure on the dial forces the winding arbors to make dimples in the thin metal indicating the exact place to drill.
Dial key hole grommets
A dial grommet is a decorative ring that sits inside the winding hole to make it look pretty. Of course, it is a metal ring with prongs on the back to fold behind the clock dial.
Hire Clockworks to drill the dial before it ships out. Naturally, Clockworks can drill this before shipping for a fee. So if this is of interest, please email us. We would need the movement numbers off of the back plate of the movement itself.
This information would not be in the paperwork that came with the clock or any marking on the wood clock case. It must come from the brass clockworks itself. Once we have the movement number, we can drill the winding arbor holes before the dial ships.
Clock Bezels Description
A clock bezel description consists of the brass part that holds the clock glass in place. It can be confusing to get the bezel and then the flat or convex glass.
To buy the clock bezel and then try to get the correct glass separately to put them all together is not easy. It is best to get the clock bezel glass and dial all together whenever possible.
To get the correct clock bezel, measure the diameter of the hole in the clock where it will sit. These can come with or without a hinge. The ones with the hinge are getting increasingly difficult to supply.
However, there are only a certain number of available sizes for these complete clock bezel units. So even though it is never a recommendation to piece meal the parts, sometimes it is a necessity.
This can get tricky, so call and speak to us directly. That way we can marry the two items together for the perfect clock bezel and glass combination. However, it is also entirely possible that the combination cannot happen. This is especially true with larger clock bezels.
Fitting glass to the bezel
The glass has to fit into the clock bezel and it has to be a perfect fit. It cannot be too small so as to fall out of the clock bezel and not so big it will not fit into the bezel clips. For the proper size glass, measure exactly how wide the glass would need to be from the back of the bezel.
In other words, turn the bezel over and measure across the inside lip of the clock bezel where the glass sits. Remember, the glass tabs have to secure it in place. Get one that will not be too big for the bezel clips and not so small it falls out the front. Again, if there is any question, please feel free to email us or call.
Clock Dial Description of Styles
When creating clocks it is a good idea to know all the options for the dial before deciding what clock to build.
The dial is both the most important thing and also the most tricky at times when building a clock.
It is most important because that is what people look at all day long. The dial makes or breaks the clock appearance. It is tricky because often what a customer wants for a project is no longer available. However the reverse is what needs to happen.
Choices are from what is currently available and not so much what a customer really wants.This availability depends on the clock. For example, a floor clock has more dial options than a school house clock. The list below are the general types of dials available.
Sometimes it is hard to tell it is there so if the dial seems to have scratches, it most likely has this coating. This needs to be taken off for the final clock project.
Made of thin metal, it is possible to drill these out with holes for a clock key if working with a spring driven clock. Use dial key hole grommets to make the holes pretty after the drilling is done.
Square clock dials
You can drill Square dials for the winding of a spring driven clock.
Drill 3/8 holes where the key will go through the dial to wind the clock. Key hole grommets make the holes look good when done.
Usually the metal dials are made from thin metal, and the size and color elections are few. If the size is not available in metal, please consider paper dials instead. These come in many sizes, and are available in white or ivory color, and Roman or Arabic numerals.
So the base of the dial is 11" square and then add a 4 1/2 inch hump on the top for the lunar disk. There are a few other sizes, however this size is the industry standard for the most part.
This is a good thing because if your building a clock from kit plans, the odds are very good this dial is the size that they recommend using. For example, the likelihood of obtaining a dial that will be perfect for the project is much higher than trying to build a mantle clock.
Clock Crystals - Glass Variations
Let us explore the variety of clock crystals, because the glass does have many variations. The size options are vast, however the shape requirement may not be available in the size that you need.
The first step is to identify if the glass is square, round, oblong or some other odd shape. If the glass is round, need to determine if it is convex or flat. The following paragraphs will clarify each type.
Round Convex Clock Glass Variations
Clockworks offers a large number of sizes in round convex glass. Convex means that the glass has a slight bubble to it. The glass will not be perfectly flat.
Sometimes people may say it is concave as well. This type of glass that has a bubble is found on many mantle clocks as well as many other clocks. Clockworks stocks almost every size. In addition, most small sizes are available in 1/16 increments.
Please see the product page to see the sizes available and to order the glass. Ordering is simple once you know the size that you need. Just select the size from the order button menu. Measure the round convex clock glass from one side to the other.
It is the overall diameter of the glass. Do not try to measure the side that has the bubble. Trying to do so will result in the wrong size of glass. Turn it over and measure across the flat side.
When working with a clock bezel it is important to order the right size of clock glass. If the glass is too narrow, it will fall out the front.
When a clock glass is too wide, the tabs on the back of the bezel will not be able to fold over to hold it. It needs to be between the extremes. A good fit where the bezel tabs can hold it in place.
Round Flat Clock Glass Variations
Clockworks offers flat round clock glass in many sizes. If the glass needs to be any other size than what we offer, there is a solution. Because it is only flat glass, any local glass shop can cut a circle to whatever size you need.
It will not cost much, and as long as the measurement is correct it will be perfect every time. Sometimes just taking the bezel in is enough for a glass shop to cut it.
Square Clock Case Glass
Again, go to the glass shop for this one. Some glass shops will install the glass on the wooden clock case doors if it is left with them. This is the best way.
The glass will not be found by any clock part supplier. Bringing it to the glass shop will not cost much. Also there are more options available if changing the look or type of glass.
Clock crystal oddities
During the 1950's through the 1970's there were some unusual clocks made that had odd shapes for the glass. If the clock glass needs to be convex or any other shape besides round, there is not much hope.
Unfortunately no clock supplier will have this. Another solution is to find a similar clock and use the glass from it. Again, if flat glass can be made to work, a local glass shop is the way to go.
Made in Germany, this 6-inch (152mm) dial bezel glass has black Roman numerals with the Hermle logo. It sits on a dial pan with a hinged bezel for easy opening. Complete with convex glass, the time track measures 5 inches (127mm) in diameter.
6-1/4 inch(159mm) Dial-Bezel-Glass for 340-341 made in Germany with raised gold Arabic numerals. This dial is on a dial pan, has a hinged bezel with convex glass. Has a 5 1/2 inch time track diameter (140mm).
6-inch-Round-Dial 141-031, 141-041 Silver-Trim made in Germany. Drilled to fit the winding arbors of a 141 or 150 series Hermle clock movement. Has the feet on the back side to lock into the front plate of the clock movement.
6"(152mm) Round Dial 141-030 141-040 made in Germany. Drilled to fit the winding arbors of a 141 or 150 series Hermle clock movement. Has the feet on the back side to lock into the front plate of the clock movement.
6in Round Dial 340-020 341-020 made in Germany. Drilled to fit the winding arbors of a 341 Series Hermle clock movement. Has the feet on the back side to lock into the front plate of the clock movement.
6inch (152mm) Fits131-130 Dial-Bezel-Glass made in Germany with black Roman numerals. This dial is on a dial pan, has a hinged bezel with convex glass. Has a 5 inch time track diameter (127mm). This will fit 130-020 131-020 and so forth clock movements made by Hermle.
7-7/8(200mm) Round Dial for 351-830 or 351-850 made in Germany. The winding arbor configuration fits a 351 Series Hermle clock movement. Has the feet on the back side to lock into the front plate of the clock movement.
7in (178mm) Dial-Bezel-Glass for 340-341 series clock movements with a 6 inch time track diameter (152mm). Made in Germany with black Arabic numerals. This dial is on a dial pan, bezel with convex glass and a hinge.
7in Dial-Bezel-Glass for 340-341 series clock movements with a 6 inch time track (152mm). Made in Germany with black Arabic numerals. This dial is on a dial pan. Also has a bezel with convex glass and a hinge.
7in Dial-Bezel-Glass for 350-351 series clock movements with a 6 inch time track (152mm). Made in Germany with black Arabic numerals. This dial is on a dial pan. Also has a bezel with convex glass and a hinge.