Why we buy clocks is fairly simple: to tell time! But with our busy lives, running from this event to the next one, and attempting to catch up with all the numerous happenings around us, just knowing time is not enough! We now need to be updated with time which is accurate to the second, not the watch with the lagging battery that’s running a minute slower every day. A clock which can set up itself by receiving radio signals and can check its accuracy regularly is almost essential in our modern lifestyle. An atomic clock is just that! To find out which one is the best atomic clock for you, check out the details below!
Our best pick is the 515-1316 model from La Crosse Technology. Its on the pricey side but also offers features like alarm and calendar information, and is easily readable due to the huge display. Moreover, it can be hung on a wall or placed on the table with the included stand.
The best budget-friendly option according to our curators is the HITO Atomic Self-setting Alarm Clock, which is easy to take with you during travel trips. It is lightweight and features indoor temperature, alarm buttons, backlight and more within a very affordable range.
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Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Atomic Clocks
1. La Crosse Technology 515-1316 Atomic Digital Wall Clock
This big atomic clock is crafted by the makers at La Crosse Technology who have over 30 years experience in this business. Its display is huge, as it comes in an extra large 7-inch screen which shows all the important information, including current time, in one place. Giving it just one glance will tell you everything you need to know to catch up on a schedule or make tomorrow’s plan for the day!
You can change the format between 24-hours and 12-hours as per your requirement. There is also aDaylight Saving Time option with the auto-updating feature. This feature can be turned on or off whenever you want.
Also convenient, you can see both day and month on its 3.25 inches calendar view. There are four US time zones available namely Eastern, Central, Pacific and Mountain. So you can pick whichever is the most convenient for your location.
Usually, according to the specific zone you have set, it automatically updates the time with the help of WWVB radio signals. However you can manually set it too in case you prefer your clocks to go a bit faster or slower.
Also, if you are having trouble waking up on time and missing out on important events, just set an alarm here with a five-minute snooze! It will need three standard alkaline batteries to operate which unfortunately do not come with the product.
All these functions come at a pretty expensive cost, but are worth it due to the flexible settings and well-made structure. You can hang it up on the wall or make it sit on a large surface with the optional leg stand. This atomic clock will be of great use in both home and office areas with large space.
2. HITO Atomic Self-setting Alarm Clock
This clock is much smaller in size but is just as good utility-wise! While the previous clock allowed you to view the current time from a distance, this one is made specifically for close range use.
Its size is 3.8 inches which is a little bigger than normal, but this size does allow the user to read the time easily, as well as take it with him wherever he goes. Due to its sturdy structure and much lighter weight, you can just tuck it in a bag during travel trips and keep your pace in check.
You can also put it on the bedside table before sleeping and press the dedicated buttons in the front to set alarms for the next day. If you’re feeling lazy in the morning, there is also a snooze option to delay the alarm. The alarm tone can be heard even if you are two rooms away. Though that doesn’t mean it is excessively annoying or jarring for the ears.
For an easier view at darker hours, it has a night-light function included where the display automatically adjusts its brightness and color. Its switch is placed under the battery cover where you can reach even in the dark. The backlight included here is amber LED which is a lot more comfortable for the eyes than regular ones.
Here too you can manually set time, or just set the time zone among four available options in the USA. For the latter setting, the clock will respond to the radio frequencies available around it and adjust current time accordingly all by itself. Both 12 hours and 24-hour formats are allowed, along with the Daylight Saving Time.
With just a click you can view the full date in the month-day format. The weekday, also, is always on display along with the timetable and alarm status. These days can be presented in any of the five supported languages including English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian. There is also an indication of the signal strength and the current room temperature. The unit can be set to Celsius or Fahrenheit according to your preference.
For all of these features to work properly, you need to put two AA batteries in it which are not included in the package. The price for this surprisingly affordable for the provided functions!
3. AcuRite 13021 Atomic Projection Alarm Clock
From analog atomic clocks to digital ones, AcuRite has come a long way. Offering its services for almost two decades in this area, this brand has adopted all necessary technologies to make their products a strong competition in the market.
What attracts people the most about this clock is that it doesn’t just show you the time when you look at it, but also when you are away from it! This has been possible due to its projection feature. It shows the current time in a strong red color hovering in the air so if you need to have a look at the time in the middle of the night, all you have to do is open your eyes and look at the wall or ceiling!
Another useful feature is that you can charge it using your USB! There is a charging port on the back where you need to plug in a USB cable and restore the clock’s energy by connecting its other end to your smartphone. Make sure your phone is compatible though by checking if it allows 1 Amp output.
You can set up the alarm here for a variety of uses – be it daily, weekly or just one-time. Pick your preferred alarm interval and be sure to get up right on time with its loud tone. The snooze button is also available and it turns up the screen brightness to 100% when pressed.
Normally, on any digital atomic clock, the time and other information are shown in a monochromatic display. But here, you will get to see multiple illuminated colors on its LCD display which stand out on the big black background.
The present time is shown in white, the alarm set in blue and a red color is used to tell exhibit the signal strength. All these contrasting colors make it a lot easier for users to read the required information in a second. The clock also has three levels of brightness to make it as easy on your eyes as possible.
It is radio-controlled and broadcasts the time according to the NIST Radio Station for accuracy. Adjusting to Daylight Saving Time is also allowed. It is powered with AC adapter and comes with battery backup. This seemingly high-end atomic clock actually comes at a pretty affordable price!
4. La Crosse Technology WT-3143A-INT Atomic Wall Clock
Another entry on our list from La Crosse Technology is this atomic wall clock which follows the analog trends, unlike the previous options. It is gigantic with a 14 inches diameter and is thus very easy to read from any corner of the room!
The simple straightforward design and a color combination of the classic black and white, make this clock a very good choice for both residential and commercial spaces. It can bring a classy vibe to the whole area and make walls of any shade look stylish.
Though this clock is analog, it can still give you accurate time readings by being connected to signals from WWVB radio transmitter. There is an antenna system built into it and thus does not need to be set manually. Although if you really want to set the time yourself, there is an option for that too.
It adjusts the time all by itself six times a day. All you have to do is put in one AA alkaline battery and select the time zone for your area. There is also an extra battery compartment for a more long-lasting power.
The frame is made of black plastic and overall the weight of the clock is pretty light. It is also the cheapest one on our list.
5. Marathon CL030033SV Panoramic Atomic Wall Clock
Marathon is a brand established by the expert craftsmanship of Swiss watchmakers who combined art, convenience and military-grade durability in each of their creations. Living up to its standards, this atomic wall clock also offers the best of quality and durability.
The framing of this clock features a brushed steel effect and the overall design, in fact, is very sleek and stylish. With the option to have it in any of the four shades – black, silver, white and wood, you can have more freedom to decorate your room.
You can view the time easily due to its large display of 4 inches. The time shows in either 12 hours or military 24 hours format and with utmost accuracy. As soon as you insert the two AA batteries provided, the clock itself will promptly sync its time according to the received signals in a matter of minutes.
This clock offers adjustments to all eight time zones of North America namely – Pacific, Eastern, Central, Mountain, Newfoundland, Alaska, Atlantic and Hawaii standard time! This feature alone makes it a lot more useful than all the competitors. There is also the Daylight Savings Time mode included which can be turned on and off as you prefer.
In addition to all these, you can also view the date and weekday, followed by the interior temperature on the right side. This temperature can be set to Fahrenheit or Celsius. Below that, seconds are shown of the current time, along with the strength of receiving radio signals.
All these functionalities can be accessed in a second through their individual dedicated buttons in the back. There is also an American map provided in case you need to know more about the time zones.
You can fold out the table stand anytime you want to place it on an upright surface, or just hang it up on the wall for a better view. All these come at an affordable price and the atomic clock can be used anywhere as a result of its beautifully simple design.
6. HITO Large Atomic Self-setting Digital Desk Wall Clock
Another contender in our race for the best atomic clock is this one from HITO. It comes with a 9.5 inch wide frame where the time is displayed in 2.5 inches digits. So even from a considerable distance, you can clearly view how much time you have left for that event or meeting!
Both AM and PM time formats are allowed here. There is also more flexibility offered in the case of timezones. While most atomic clocks allow four time zones only, this one offers six US time zones you can choose from! These include Hawaii, Alaska, Pacific, Mountain, Central and Eastern areas.
As soon as you select one of them, the respective area will be highlighted on a small map on the top right corner. This adds to the charm of this clock since it is also a unique attribute in the market.
The time is auto-updated according to the received radio signals. It also has the Daylight Savings Time option which can be set on or off. Calendar information is also displayed on the bottom of month, day and weekday. For weekday names, you can choose any of the seven languages – English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Danish and Dutch.
Indoor temperature is also available in both Celsius and Fahrenheit, along with the percentage of indoor humidity. There are two alarms and a dedicated slider is placed on each side for easy access. Both of their statuses are visible on the screen.
There are two levels of brightness included for your comfort. You can also turn on the night-light feature to check on the time at late hours with ease. It turns on automatically in response to the embedded sensor.
The stand is included in its structure for convenience and this affordable clock only needs two C batteries to operate.
7. Sangean RCR-3 Atomic Clock Radio
A very trendy combination of analog and digital clock styles, this one from Sangean has it all. It looks very high-profile due to its futuristic design and comes with a number of cool functionalities.
First of all, there is an analog clock in the front for anyone who prefers a traditional style. Though this clock looks very old school, it actually gets all its time information through radio signals just like its digital contemporaries. Along with the popular WWVB, it also receives signals from DCF, MSF and JJY.
This can also perform as a radio with its 14 preset stations. Its automatic tuning system scans all these and then finds all the local radio stations for you depending on their signal strength.
While most clocks are satisfied with their solo alarm system, this one offers you the luxury of setting up four alarms at once! Two of them can also be specified to get triggered on daily or weekly basis according to your preference. Moreover, it includes snooze, adjustable sleep and nap timers along with tone control mechanisms.
Another alarm has a dual-time HWS or Human Waking System which lets you get up from the peaceful sleep slowly instead of just shattering your beautiful dream into pieces with one loud noise.
You can access all these features and functions from just pressing the right button from all the dedicated ones on top and in front of the clock. You can also connect your smartphone or portable music player with it to play your favorite songs in stereo.
8. La Crosse Technology WS-8157U-CH-IT Atomic Clock
Instead of the usual blacks and silvers, this atomic clock has donned the uncommon shades of red and pale pink for some extra style! The time is displayed on one larger display while all other information is visible on a smaller screen below. This makes it easier for the user to find out necessary information with just one glance!
You can know about both the indoor and outdoor temperatures from the lower screen. The left one is indoor’s ad the right one belongs to outdoor, as marked clearly on the skin. The first one’s unit can be interchanged between Fahrenheit and Celsius. For the outdoor one, a wireless sensor tries to provide accurate information within a range of 330 ft.
A quick forecast about the weather is also visible with a big icon in the middle, which can represent sun, clouds and rain. Also, an arrow pointing in a certain direction represents the pressure tendency. Through this, you can make an estimation if the weather will improve or not. These forecasts are usually made about the next 12 to 20 hours.
The current date and the name of weekday are also presented here. Names of the weekdays can be read in any of the three available languages, namely English, French and Spanish.
An alarm can be set with snooze and WWVB radio controls the atomic time here. If the battery is running low, the display will let you know so through an icon next to the time. It reads TX for sensor batteries and RX for clock ones. Hang it up on the wall or make it stand – both choices are available.
9. MARATHON CL030025WD Jumbo Atomic Wall Clock
This wall is perfect to hang up in your office or living room since it gives you all the information you need at just a glance. For that, you need to thank its huge LCD display where digits of 4.625 inches height tell you the time. Just below that, the current date, weekday and indoor temperature are shown one by one.
Both AM and PM formats are allowed here and the temperature readings can be done in Celsius or Fahrenheit units. The clock sets its time on its own by receiving the radio frequencies from NIST. This automatic signal mechanism cannot be turned on or off manually.
You can find this model in four shades of wood, black, silver and white. Pick any according to the aesthetic of your room and upgrade its style quotient! Fold out its stand to place on a desk or hang it on the wall using the cutout in the back.
For further convenience, six time zones of US are allowed including AST, CST, EST, MST, NST & PST. The selected zone is displayed on the right of the time. Daylight Savings Time option is also given which can be toggled any time.
It needs three batteries to a function which is provided with the package. If these batteries are not going on too strong, you can see that with the low battery indicator. Unfortunately, there is no backlight included resulting in difficult time reading at night hours.
10. Ambient Weather RC-1400WB Atomic Wall Clock
This classic piece of Ambient Weather allows adding some traditional vibes to your place along with showing accurate time. Contrasting its looks, the clock actually synchronizes itself automatically to the WWVB signals and sets up the time without your help! But if you prefer to set it manually, you can also do that using the buttons at the back.
Four US time zones are included here namely Eastern, Central, Pacific and Mountain. Choose whichever seems the most appropriate for your area and switch on Daylight Savings Time also if you need. An extra option for overriding DST is included for the residents of Arizona.
The hands are very lightweight and thus their movements are almost inaudible. So you can sleep as much as you want, or contemplate in silence without any interruption. Because of them, the battery life can also be extended since their workload is getting reduced.
It requires one AA battery to run and is very easy to read from distance due to its 14 inch diameter area. The price is extremely affordable but it is not night-friendly and also weighs a bit more than its competitors.
How does an atomic clock work?
An atomic clock gets its name from using an electromagnetic spectrum of atoms as its basis. There are several regions on this spectrum like optical, microwave and ultraviolet. The clock uses the electron transition frequency in these regions to keep up its time. National Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST in short, broadcasts frequency information along with the current time through the radio. All these data can be picked up by the atomic clock for displaying the right time. For accuracy, these clocks utilize vibrations of elements like cesium and ammonia.
Things to Consider to Find the Best Atomic Clock
These clocks are extremely sensitive to location since it depends on radio signals to operate. If it is put in a place in the house where those signals can get weak or blocked, the clock cannot function properly and will start displaying wrong times. For the same reason, it can also start losing time all of a sudden. So if the clock is not working from where you have placed it, change up its location to see where it gets the strongest signals.
No GMT support
Usually, these clocks do not support GMT time format. All the information broadcasted by WWVB are based on the UTC format. UTC is actually more encouraged in the field of alarm clocks since they can provide more accurate readings as long as fractions of a second can be ignored.
No water resistance
This must be a no-brainer, but atomic clocks are in fact not water resistant. They will get damaged as soon as you get them in water since they operate themselves based on electric elements.
Which one is for me?
Tick-tock or not?
In case of atomic clocks, there are both digital and analog options available. For the analog ones, you can read them more easily from distance in the daytime but some of them might cause the “tick-tock” sounds all day and all night. If that doesn’t bother you much then you can go for it. But if it does bother you, go for the digital ones since they usually don’t make any sound other than alarm tones.
Night vision necessary?
For digital atomic clocks, many of the top-tier products have a soothing amber backlight for better readings at night. Some of them get dimmer automatically through the sensors as it gets darker while in some clocks, this option is not included at all! So if you constantly need to check the time at night, go for one with a night-light option.
Does it support my time zone?
Make sure the clock supports your time zone before settling your mind on it. Usually, atomic clocks support four US time-zones but some even go for an extra two or four.
Atomic clocks were initially meant for highly trained scientists to carry out experiments more precisely. But nowadays, every punctuality maniac needs one to perform their activities to perfection. We will be glad if all this information has helped you to find the best atomic clock for you and made your days more productive!