Water clocks, also known as clepsydrae (sg: clepsydra), along with the sundials, are possibly the oldest time-measuring instruments, with the only exceptions being the vertical gnomon and the day counting tally stick. Given their great antiquity, where and when they first existed is not known and perhaps unknowable. The bowl-shaped outflow is the simplest form of a water clock and is known to have existed in Babylon and in Egypt around the 16th century BC. Other regions of the world, including India and China, also have early evidence of water clocks, but the earliest dates are less certain. Some authors, however, write about water clocks appearing as early as 4000 BC in these regions of the world.
It is undesirable to give someone a clock or (depending on the region) other timepiece as a gift. Traditional superstitions regard this as counting the seconds to the recipient's death. Another common interpretation of this is that the phrase "to give a clock" (simplified Chinese: 送钟; traditional Chinese: 送鐘) in Chinese is pronounced "sòng zhōng" in Mandarin, which is a homophone of a phrase for "terminating" or "attending a funeral" (both can be written as 送終 (traditional) or 送终 (simplified)). Cantonese people consider such a gift as a curse.
The origin of the all-mechanical escapement clock is unknown; the first such devices may have been invented and used in monasteries to toll a bell that called the monks to prayers. The first mechanical clocks to which clear references exist were large, weight-driven machines fitted into towers and known today as turret clocks. These early devices struck only the hours and did not have hands or a dial.
The returned instants from Clock work on a time-scale that ignores leap seconds, as described in Instant. If the implementation wraps a source that provides leap second information, then a mechanism should be used to "smooth" the leap second. The Java Time-Scale mandates the use of UTC-SLS, however clock implementations may choose how accurate they are with the time-scale so long as they document how they work. Implementations are therefore not required to actually perform the UTC-SLS slew or to otherwise be aware of leap seconds.
Early clock dials did not indicate minutes and seconds. A clock with a dial indicating minutes was illustrated in a 1475 manuscript by Paulus Almanus, and some 15th-century clocks in Germany indicated minutes and seconds. An early record of a seconds hand on a clock dates back to about 1560 on a clock now in the Fremersdorf collection.:417–418
Any expansion or contraction of the rod caused by changes of temperature will affect the timekeeping of a pendulum; e.g., a pendulum clock with a steel rod will lose one second a day for a rise in temperature of approximately 4 °F (2.2 °C). For accurate timekeeping, the length of the pendulum must be kept as nearly constant as possible. This may be done in several ways, some of which use the differing coefficients of expansion (the amount of expansion per degree change in temperature) of different metals to obtain a cancelling-out effect. In one popular compensation method, the bob consists of a glass or metal jar containing a suitable amount of mercury. The gridiron pendulum employs rods of different metal, usually brass and steel, while in the zinc-iron tube the pendulum rod is made of concentric tubes of zinc and iron. An improved method, however, is to make the pendulum rod from a special alloy called Invar. This material has such a small coefficient of expansion that small changes of temperature have a negligible effect and can easily be compensated for if required.
In the 13th century, Al-Jazari, an engineer from Mesopotamia (lived 1136–1206) who worked for Artuqid king of Diyar-Bakr, Nasir al-Din, made numerous clocks of all shapes and sizes. A book on his work described 50 mechanical devices in 6 categories, including water clocks. The most reputed clocks included the Elephant, Scribe and Castle clocks, all of which have been successfully reconstructed. As well as telling the time, these grand clocks were symbols of status, grandeur and wealth of the Urtuq State.
“Great little dual alarm clock. Super easy to set the two alarms. Easy to use. It has a night light feature with adjustable dimmer, which is great. You can adjust the display completely dark so you don’t see the numbers. Then you can just hit the snooze button when the alarm is not ringing and the display lights up. It’s powered only by 3 AA batteries: no electric cord, no USB, nothing that you need. If you need a fancy alarm clock that sprays water in your face, this is not it.”