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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