What Happened to Simple Electronic Clocks?

I don’t need a light show — I just want to know what time it is

It’s hard for me to cope with time changes

I don’t like the way my body feels after a time change, especially when we spring ahead and lose an hour. But what I hate most is adjusting all the clocks and appliances. It used to be quite simple. All I had to do was turn a knob in the back of an electric clock and move its hands to the right time. Not so anymore. To change the time on the new electronic clocks, I have to read a manual, try to figure out the directions, and try to apply them. Lately, that hasn’t worked very well.

For two years I’ve tried to buy an electronic digital clock that would meet my needs. The first served me well for about three years. I have kept it on my nightstand. It told me the time on a display I could read at night. It was fairly easy to set, and I could choose an alarm sound. It had a radio and a CD player I often used. And then, last year, the setting buttons stopped working properly. I started shopping for another clock that would fit on my nightstand.

I couldn’t find the clock I wanted

I found the clock you see above. It was not what I wanted, but it was the right size and it had an alarm. In fact, it had two alarms — a sound alarm and a light alarm. The only one that worked was the light alarm. It was difficult to set the time, but after setting the language, date, and day I managed. The directions are insufficient for my nearly eighty-year-old brain. Or maybe the clock just doesn’t work properly.

I considered taking it back, but the time was easy to see at night, and the clock also displayed the internal and external temperature. I’m not sure how it knew them. The clock also allows me to charge my phone with its USB port.

I decided to put this new clock on top of the old one. I could see it better that way and I would still be able to use the old clock’s radio and CD player.

My photo: Two electronic clocks that don’t work properly and a timer that does

Two clocks, but I use a timer to wake up in the morning

Let’s look at the photo above. The old clock is on the bottom. It’s the one with the buttons that no longer work. When I tried to set the clock ahead an hour it advanced too fast and I had to settle for two hours ahead because it froze and would not go backward an hour. If I’d left it alone, at least it would have been right for half a year.

The clock on top is the fancy new one that’s almost impossible to set. The set button is on the back and the arrows are on the front. It’s extremely difficult to hold the set button down, hold the clock in the other hand at the same time, and not press touch settings you don’t want to use. Those settings control the light display, the forward and back buttons, and turning features on and off. When it was time to “spring ahead” this week, the + setting wouldn’t do anything while I held the set button on the back. Instead, the clock put on a light show. Maybe the directions in the manual were just too confusing for my old brain.

In the middle of the night, I take one of my medications that requires an empty stomach. I need to know the time to make sure I don’t take it too early. To know the proper time I need to add an hour to what I see on the top clock or subtract an hour on the bottom clock. But my brain is foggy and I may not remember to make those calculations.

I need to take my heart medication at a certain time every morning, so the sound alarm function is important. I never got it to work at all on the top clock and the bottom one can’t be properly set anymore. That’s why I set my reliable timer every night. It always works. It’s easy to use and the sound lasts long enough for me to wake up and shut it off.

I’m still shopping for the ideal clock

I don’t need all the bells and whistles. I don’t need a light alarm. I don’t need my clock to glow in different colors or cycle through them. I didn’t buy a clock because it uses color changes to help me with deep breathing exercises. I only want to be able to see the time clearly in the middle of the night and be able to easily reset the time and alarm when necessary. Is that too much to ask?

My ideal clock will uncomplicated. The controls will be easy to use. Its time display will be easy to read night and day. It will remain quiet except when the alarm goes off. It won’t tick, click or hum. Whether analog or digital, I hope I find my ideal clock soon.

What’s your ideal bedroom clock? Or do you just use your phone? I don’t use mine because waking it up to see the time makes it harder for me to fall asleep again.

Christian, bereaved adoptive mom, blogger, amateur nature photographer, voracious reader. Married 54 years. Central Coast of California. https://barbrad.com

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