Wake Up the Old-Fashioned Way

Your Smartphone Alarm Is Ruining Your Sleep — Time to Go Analog


Watches By Photo by Schoolhouse Electric

Last Updated January, 2018: This post has been updated with new picks for 2018. Prices and links have also been updated.

I go to bed every night right after setting several alarms to ensure I actually get my ass out of bed at a reasonable time every day; I wake up every morning to my iPhone’s “Radar” alarm sound inches from my head. I like it — it’s free, it’s easy to set and it’s reliable. And I’m not alone. A 2013 study found that 44 percent of smartphone owners wake up to an alarm app on their phone. This despite the fact that many other studies show smartphones are murder for a good night’s sleep.

It all comes down to a couple of factors. Blue light emanating from your screen disrupts your body’s natural production of melatonin if you’re looking at your phone before you go to bed; middle-of-the-night notifications might stir you from your sleep, and avoiding them can prompt a bout of FOMO-driven anxiety. Of course, you can combat all of these problems with a combination of blue-light filters on your phone, Do Not Disturb Mode and good-old-fashioned self-restraint — but many suggest kicking the smartphone out of your bedroom altogether.

If this is the path you choose, an old-fashioned analog alarm clock is the best smartphone replacement. Driven by a battery and quartz and lacking in any features apart from the time and your alarm, a classic alarm clock is simple, effective and cheap. Better still, you’ll find no shortage of wonderfully designed timepieces, many penned by design greats like Dieter Rams, Arne Jacobson and Henning Koppel. Not only will they help you achieve a better night’s rest, but they’ll also add a little charm to your bedside table, too.

Newgate Brass Knocker Alarm Clock

Newgate’s convincing mid-century designs might lead you to believe it’s a heritage brand with decades of clockmaking history, but the brand has only been making clocks since the early 1990s. Still, timepieces like Brass Knocker clock look like they’re plucked straight out of yesteryear. That’s partially thanks to the alarm, which takes the old-school approach of a mallet banging between two bells. The contrasting matte metal body and brass accents also give this alarm clock a significant dose of charm missing from many analog alarm clocks today.

Braun Reflex Control Alarm Clock

Braun’s timepieces — mostly designed by Dieter Rams and Dietrich Lubs — were some of the most forward-thinking of the ’70s and ’80s. The design of this modern day Braun alarm clock harkens back to one of the brands’ early travel clocks from the mid-’70s which featured a flip-down cover with a no-nonsense chart indicating the timezone’s of the world’s major cities. The Reflex Control clock also carries on Braun’s legacy of simple, intuitive design, with a clean dial layout, green and red on-and-off buttons for the alarm function, and a motion sensor for the snooze function.

Ruotare Alarm Clock

Made for MoMA by Lemnos — a Japanese design group known for its quirky but handsome clock designs — this alarm clock is made from a solid block of beechwood and painted in a bright primary color (your choice of yellow, red or blue). It is inspired by children’s toy blocks and “soften the blow of wake-up time with a sweet sense of nostalgia.” Sure, your experience may vary there, but it is an unquestionably charming and colorful addition to the nightstand.

Arne Jacobsen Alarm Clock

Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen might best be remembered for his iconic chair designs, but he was quite handy when it came to penning clock designs. In 1939, his first metal-base table alarm clock was made, and this modern reinterpretation brings back its classic look but packs some modern convenience. For instance, the bell alarm can be silenced by a light tap ontop of the clock and an LED touch sensor allows you to easily illuminate the clock face at night.

Twemco AL-30

The electromechanical flip board is a somewhat-forgotten relic of travel and timekeeping history, but while flip boards have mostly vanished from train stations and airports, the technology does somewhat live on in the home flip clock. This one from Twemco — a specialist in flip boards since the ’50s — keeps the charming timekeeping mechanism alive and pairs it with an alarm function and a retro plastic case.

Georg Jensen HK Clock

In the late 1970s, Georg Jensen — a Danish silversmith — launched its first men’s wristwatch. It was created by Danish designer Henning Koppel, and its clean, pared-down design has formed the basis for several other timepieces from the brand, including this handsome tabletop alarm clock. It features Henning Koppel’s iconic dial design — which used small pints in place of numerals — and a sleek, stainless steel casing.

Menu Metallic Tumbler

Designed by Norm Architects, a duo of Danish designers, the Menu Tumbler is one of the more unique takes on the traditional analog alarm clock you can get. It balances perfectly on its curved bottom and when the alarm goes off you can silence it by turning it upside down. The original Tumbler was made with painted steel but in Metallic guise its available with either a beautiful polished stainless steel or brass finish.

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