Waking up is never fun, but it's definitely more stylish with a vintage alarm clock. These adorable designs range from the standard round style with the bells to super funky mid-century statement pieces. You can find old alarm clocks at thrift stores and antique shops, but it helps to know what to look for and which styles are valuable too.
Vintage Alarm Clock Styles
Old alarm clocks, also called analog alarm clocks if they don't have a digital display, come in a ton of different styles. Some really old examples date back hundreds of years, but most of the vintage styles you'll see come from the 20th century.
Analog Bell Alarm Clock
This is the classic style most people think of when they imagine an alarm clock. It's a simple design with a clock topped by two bells and a striking hammer. You wind up the clock and set the time. These come in different metal colors as well as painted and enameled shades.
You can find this style of alarm clock at most thrift stores and secondhand shops. Most sell in the range of $20 to $40, but some special designs are worth more. For example, clocks featuring a famous character are more valuable. A Mickey Mouse bell alarm clock sold for just over $200.
This style looks gorgeous on a nightstand in a guest room with vintage decor. It's a classic piece that everyone finds charming.
Folding Travel Alarm Clocks
In the 1920s, travel alarm clocks became a popular alternative to the bigger versions. These smaller clocks folded up into sleek cases. Some cases opened like compacts and had a flip-up clock. Other slid open to reveal the clock.
Folding alarm clocks are fun to collect, and some can be super valuable. Although most sell in the same range as the regular bell alarm clocks, some made by designer names or with beautiful dials and lovely leather cases sell for more. One vintage Hermes travel alarm clock sold for nearly $1,200.
You can show off folding alarm clocks as a collection on a nightstand or dresser, and they also look pretty in arrangements with other items. Stack one on top of some books and next to a picture frame for a pretty display.
Novelty Vintage Alarm Clocks
Just like novelty cookie jars and other fun mid-century items, alarm clocks also took on all kinds of adorable forms during the middle of the 20th century. These can be really exciting to collect, especially if you focus on a specific theme, like animals or musical instruments.
Most of these aren't worth a ton of money, but if you have certain coveted ones, you might have a treasure. For examples, the Vintage Rhythm rock n' roll singing chicken clock tends to sell for hundreds. One sold in 2022 for over $300.
A novelty clock is sure to get a smile anywhere you display it, but they are really cute in kids' bedrooms.
Vintage Flip Alarm Clocks
Before digital displays became popular, alarm clocks often had numbers that would flip over as the time changed (kind of like a slot machine). These were super popular throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and you can still find them for sale in many thrift stores.
Condition is a big factor in their value, since the flipping numbers need to be functional. After years of use, many don't work. Flip alarm clocks in good working condition regularly sell in the $100 range, but they can be worth more. One in its original box and in brand new condition sold for about $275.
Show off a flip clock anywhere. They are simple and usually have a fairly neutral color scheme, so they work with most retro decor.
If you're buying or selling a vintage clock, it's a good plan to get an idea of its value first. Take a minute to look at similar clocks that have recently sold and compare the condition of yours to those.
What to Look for When Buying a Vintage Alarm Clock
If you're considering adding a vintage clock to your bedroom decor or starting a collection, there are a few things to consider to avoid a rude wake-up call.
- Working condition - Clocks are more valuable (and clearly, more useful) when they work. Make sure the clock keeps time and that all the features are useable.
- Radio - If a clock has a radio, this can make it even more functional. Many plug-in designs have AM/FM radios, so keep this in mind as you're shopping.
- Attractiveness - While there's retro appeal in a brown 70s alarm clock, you've got so many other choices. Look for something fun and pretty, like a trippy orange one or a bubblegum pink style.
- Safety - It's not really an issue with newer alarm clocks, but older electric models may need to be rewired to be safe. Check to make sure the cord is modern and the insulation on it is intact.
Fun and Functional Time Keepers
A vintage bedside clock makes a killer addition to any retro bedroom, and they're a fun (and usually totally functional) part of history. Take your time (no pun intended) and choose the one you'll love for years to come.