Author Options:

How Do You Make a Clock Silent? Answered

I've tried tinkering, but it never seems to work. Is there a way to make an analog clock silent (or at least quieter), without actually turning it off (the idiot's answer to everything)? I recently had to retire my old bedside clock, and so I bought a cheap-o one at Wal-Mart for about 5 dollars...and it is the loudest thing I've ever heard. Will someone please enlighten me?


Very often the most effective solutions are the simplest. Put it in a clear container like a jar, preferably with an airtight lid. If you can't find a jar large enough, look for a glass dome to fit over the top of it. I've just done this with a cheap clock I bought and it works very, very well.

yup. Done that. Also put 1 clock behind the glass of the fireplace (seldom used fireplace)


A 5$ clock is bought and instead of thinking to invest another 5 bucks for different model that one would test for noise in the shop first, we go through all lenghts to modify a 5$ piece of crap LOL

But it clearly shows the spirit of improving things that we can't accept in their original design - I love it! :)
The reason why many cheap clocks are so noisy is the use of cheap plastics and high tolerance levels for the parts.

Most "clicking" clocks that use batteries have a pulsed electro magnet that moves the parts and in return the fingers.

If that magnet works every second to move a flimsy rocking mechanism you end with noise.

Smarter designs use a mechanism with a pulsed motor, similar in function to a stepper motor, those designs are usually silent apart from a slight noise when the finger is moved (barely noticable even in silent conditions).

Best option for a clock next to the bed would be a mains powered one with a battery backup.

Good models take their accuracy from syncronising with the mains frequency, others by use of the radio transmitted time signals, which is very popular in Europe and Japan.

I had a $5 Walmart clock that clicked loud enough to hear through closed doors. I stuffed tissues around the outside of the clock mechanism box in addition to clipping the second hand to about an inch. It now has a bearable "normal" tick that is just noticeable in a quiet room. Not silent, but quiet!


4 years ago

The quickest way (sorry i'm 6 years late) is to use a sledgehammer!


6 years ago

Beside the obvious solution as buying a clock with "soft tick" (yes, you can get noiseless clocks where second hand moves once pr. second(!) as Seiko, Braun or Junghans), sweep second or a digital one there's a few things you actually can do to reduce the tick of a quartz clock.

What you can do depends on the construction of the clock and your skills.
The tick sound comes because the stepper motor have a strong force at certain points in the cycle and there's slack in the gear train so the whole thing vibrates from one end of the slack to the other (and because of start/stop) - in other words a cheap low cost/quality mechanism (has nothing to do with how long it works).

The solution can be one of two or perhaps both combined.

1. Increase the tension of the gear train so it's under tension and therefore doesn't vibrate from one end of the slack to the other. Depending on the clock design this can be a felt pad on the tooth wheel for the second hand. Just a tiny amount of tension not noticeable to the hand should be enough. Actually many clocks has small "springs" on the second hand gear but often it's not enough.

2. Reduce the force and soften the start/stop. Try experiment with an appropriate resistor in series with the stepper coil to reduce force. Often the force is way stronger than it has to be. Also try experiment with a small capacitor in parallel with the coil to soften start/stop (as a capacitor takes time to (dis)charge) and therefore softens the force so it's not as suddenly.

Of course it'll reduce the battery run time. But I doubt it's by much as alkaline has a relatively flat discharge curve except for the last part. The reduction if not because of increased power (actually if # 2 it draws less - # 1 it's the same) but because the voltage cannot drop as low as before and still retain enough power to run the gear train.

That said personally I'd only do it on a special clock I like to keep where I can not/will not replace the movement (there can be a lot of reasons for that). For an ordinary alarm clock I'll just find a better. Like a Seiko etc. with increasing alarm sound. I really hate the ones (also digital) that starts out suddenly and loud. I like one that starts at (very) low and increases.

Thanks Ebenostby for your well crafted instructions.
I also found a video on YouTube which is entertaining and informative (perhaps you've seen it...). His approach is very similar to yours but, yes, are a few differences. I'd be interested to get your take on it.
Here's the link:

Again, thanks!

Those clocks with plastic gears that run off a single AA cell and tick once per minute? With cheap Chinese movements? Yes, it's quite possible to quiet them down.
1. Take the clock apart. That is, take the back and knobs off. The knobs will either push on, have a small screw in the center, or the shaft will be split and form a kind of clip. In the latter case, push the two halves of the shaft together and pull the knob off. Take the battery out, too.
2. There will be a small plastic box with the mechanism in it, inside the clock. The back of this mechanism will come off, either with a few Phillips screws or, more likely, the two halves clip together. Separate the clips and lift the back off. Be careful - the gears may spill out all over the place. Try and keep them in place. Be careful of the wires, too - they're very fragile.
3. There's one gear that is actuated by a little coil. Put a tiny drop of heavyish oil - like automobile oil 5W or 20W - on the bearing surfaces that hold this gear in place. Use a toothpick or something to get just a little bit of oil.The next gear it connects to can take this oil on its bearings, too. Finally, wipe a trace of oil on the gear teeth of these two gears. Leave everything else alone.
4. Put the gears back in place and snap or screw the back of the movement on.
5. Put the case back together and snap the knobs on.
6. Put the battery back in. The clock will stop making that clackety noise once per second!

can someone maybe demonstrate this on youtube and post the url? ebenostby thinks we have a clue what parts he's talking about ha ha i'm just a normal person who finds ticking clocks drive me insane. Thank you so much!!!

Could you turn that into an instructable that would be really helpful.

I cannot thank you enough - you have saved by sanity!

I had a clock (granted, not very expensive) that quite looks nice but it ticks quite loudly and especially noticeable when there's no other sounds in the room ie late at night. Now thanks to some lubricant I had around the house, it is almost silent :-)

Three cheers for you!



7 years ago

I tried taking the second hand out of a noisy clock -- it reduced the noise by about half, but that still wasn't enough for me. So I covered the back of the face and mechanism with Dynamat, which is a sound absorbing self-adhesive mat used for car-audio noise reduction. Now it's barely audible at all. :)

 I had this problem with an Ikea clock that absolutely drove me crazy. I didn't remove the second hand; I just snipped to about 1/4".
It was silent after that.

Since you bought a "cheap-o" clock, I'd assume you wouldn't be against buying a new one if it was silent.

I'm suprised no one mentioned buying a **gasp**  Digital Clock.  I keep mine ON my bed and it makes no sound at all.  It's also radio controlled so it's never wrong.  It also has a nice, low blue light that comes on when you hit the big button on top.

I had a cheap IKEA clock that looked like an old office or school clock, really cool style but cheap internal mechanism that just tick-tocked me into insanity.  I took it down.

By the way, clocks tick every half second regardless of if they have a second hand or not, that's just how they work.  You have to pay a lot more for the more complex tickless mechanism.  They do exist though, not at Wal Mart.

joe martin ur not weird i do 2 it makes me tired

I love the sound of ticking clocks, I've got at least three in my room. Yes, I'm weird!

Not weird....I grew up with wind up clocks that ticked loudly; TICK tic TICK tic, twice a second. It can be soothing but it annoys those that haven't had a lot of experience with them......gentle rain on a metal roof is soothing too....to some like me

Yeah, Our loft is converted and when there's a storm I'll sleep up there. I love it! Normal people worry me! ;-)

I was going to say....get out the hammer, but I see so many better ideas, that I would have to have withdrawn it. :-)


11 years ago

What NachoMahma said, unfortunately. Wrap it in lots of foam or a towel or something, and see if that helps enough. I'm dubious. Will WalMart let you return it?

Probably not...I made the mistake of recycling all the packaging before putting in the battery, so I'm guessing I can't return it. Thanks for your comments, guys!

. Hold on! If you had to put a battery in, it's may not be the type of mechanism I thought; I was thinking it was a wind-up clock. Is it ticking or humming/buzzing? . If it's a ticking sound (1-5Hz), you may be able to disable it. Open the case and see if you can unplug/disable the noise maker. If the clock stops along with the noise, you're SOL. . The works for a lot of wall clocks use the battery to keep an escapement movement going. These usually use a pretty good size battery (multiple AAA's or maybe even a C). If this is what you have, you're SOL. . Some clocks, usually the larger one's, use a stepper to move the hands (they jump, like an escapement clock). SOL, again, unless the stepper is causing the face to vibrate. In which case glue something heavy and rubbery to the back of the face. . That's all I can think of. More details would be a big help.

All right. It's battery-powered (one AA). I really have no idea about clock anatomy (yet I still call myself a geek--I've been exposed!!), but it's an alarm clock, if that has anything to do with it. Bad news,though. The wheels you use to set the time and alarm are on the outside of the case, making it seemingly impossible to open. Oh, and the faceplate (is that what it's called?) I'm pretty sure can not be taken off, because you press it to activate the snooze setting.

> really have no idea about clock anatomy (yet I still call myself a geek--I've been exposed!! . Well, gee! Ya can't know everything. I don't know any geeks that are geeky on more than one or two subjects (usually just one). I'm one of those knows-a-litle-about-a-lot-and-a-lot-about-nothing types. Usually just enough to be dangerous. I can tell you a whole bunch of things you ought not do - eg, NEVER remove a 4-speed transmission when you're laying under it - it hurts.

I don't know any geeks that are geeky on more than one or two subjects (usually just one).

eh-hem LOL j/k

Oh wait! I am SUCH AN IDIOT sometimes....let me go get my SCREWDRIVER, and I can get the case off in no time.

Taking the second hand works well, it lessens the amount of noise, but theres still that "tick-tick" Its probably best to get a clock with no second hand, and its just the minute and hour hand that moves so theres only a tick every minute.

We run a small motel and the only complaint we ever get is about the noisy clocks...So I took off the second hand as was recommended and "voila"...two of the four clocks are virtually silent now..The other two still slightly "tick" but only at about half the volume as before...THANKS for the GREAT Idea!!!!!!!!!!! Sheer GENIOUS!!!!!

I hate to say this but, you get what you pay for.

Game over, kids. I tried to take the second hand out, but ended up disconnecting one of the main wires, which as welded to something else...I don't even know. All that I know, is that I'm not a welder, especially for a 5 dollar alarm clock. Thank you for all your comments, especially NachoMahma!


11 years ago

You can make one of the typical battery-powered analog clocks with the annoying "click...click" second hand MUCH quieter simply by removing the second hand. (Most clocks don't really need a second hand anyway!)

. Wish I'd thought of that. Excellent idea.

. The short answer is no, but since this is a DIY site, you might try wrapping everything but the face with a sound-damping material. The face will probably still radiate too much energy, no matter what you do.