Blast from the past: the steel ball clock

Mechanical clock uses ball bearings to tell the time
Once a common fixture in trinket stores during the 1980’s these clocks use steel balls and a motor to display the time in a unique way.

I remember going into the local magic store in the early 80’s, which was right across from the arcade where I did most of my growing-up. Anyway, in this magic store, they had many oddities ranging from rubber masks to card tricks. Also in the collection was this strange mechanical clock.

The clock uses a bunch of steel ball bearings with a slowly rotating motor to keep the time. The number of bearings on each level of the clock’s track indicates the numbers which compose the current time. Watching the clock is somewhat like watching a lava lamp – it’s not real exciting, but it’s strangely addicting anyway.

You can get the steel ball bearing mechanical clock for only $40, which is a pretty cheap price to pay for a visit to the past and as a bonus, you get a neat conversation piece which tells the time!