Engraved clocks are perhaps not as popular as they used to be, but this actually puts them in the unique gift category. Clocks are intrinsically useful, you can find one in almost every room, so there is never any need to fear that the recipient of the gift “already has one.” Of course, they do! But you can give them something better! To make and engraved clock even more special and definitely a great conversation piece consider staying away from the usual “To Bob from Mary” style of engraving. The options you have for a very classy engraving actually come from the world of sundials – perhaps the most ancient of all time-keeping devices. As you will see these suggestions will also work flawlessly for a watch, but the task of choosing the right watch for someone is a lot more complicated than finding a clock that person might like. Keep that in mind, especially if it seems to you that some of these suggestions sound too morbid.
So, for centuries, sundials were engraved with various quotes of wisdom. The connection between time and eternity, mundane and heavenly was thus recognized. In fact, many such engravings display influences of specific schools of philosophy! Many of these inscriptions refer to the sun, as the source of the sundial’s ability to keep time, but there are many that are more general and applicable:
AGE QUOD AGIS – Do what you are doing
ALIIS INSERVIENDO CONSUMOR – By serving others, I am worn away Note that although originally a sundial inscription, this phrase actually makes a lot more sense for a clock mechanism, it also indicates a particular philosophy of life.
ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS – Art lasts, life is short
ASPICE ET ABI – Look (at me) and pass on
DEO FAVENTE – With God’s favor
DEUS ADEST LABORANTIBUS – God favors the diligent
DIES DIEM TRUDIT – Each day forces out another day
DISCE DIES NUMERARE TUOS – Learn to value your days
DUM SPECTAS FUGIO – I flee even as you observe me
EX HOC MOMENTO PENDET AETERNITAS – Eternity is hinged upon this moment
FESTINA LENTE – Make haste slowly There is actually a company called Festina that makes clocks and watches. In my opinion, only the complete quote makes sense. Who would want a clock that is too fast? The phrase indicates a perfect balance that must be achieved in a clock and in life.
HINC VIVERE DISCE – Learn to live by this example
HORA PARS VITAE – Every hour is a part of life
ITA VITA – Thus (passes) life
LABOR IPSE VOLUPTAS – Labor contains pleasure
NE QUID PEREAT – Let nothing be lost
NON NOBIS NATI SUMUS – We are not born for ourselves
NON REDIBO – I shall not return
NOSCE TEIPSUM – Know thyself
OMNIA FALCE METIT TEMPUS – Time reaps everything with its sickle
OMNIA FERT AETAS – Time brings all things
POST TENEBRAS SPERO LUCEM – I hope for light after darkness
QUID CELERIUS TEMPORE? – What is swifter than time?
SAPIENTIS EST NUMERARE – It is the wise who count
SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI – Thus passes the glory of this world
ULTIMA DECIDET – The last one decides
UMBRA DEI – The shadow of God
VERITAS TEMPORIS FILIA – Truth is the daughter of time
VIGILATE & ORATE, TEMPUS FUGIT – Be vigilant and pray, for the time hastes away