6 Best Atomic Clocks for More Accurate Time Keeping

Alex Clarkson
Alex Clarkson

According to Benjamin Franklin, who was a legendary scientist, there are two things in this world that are certain- death and taxes. But I’d like to add a third, time.  Without the concept of time, humanity as we know it, would cease to exist. Luckily, we live in a digital age where we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a timepiece.

Although a majority use their smartphones and other gadgets to tell time, a well-made atomic clock will add both function and style whether it’s installed in an office or home. Put simply; the term atomic clock is used to refer to any time-keeping gadget that operates on the basis of regular vibrations of atoms. The best feature about atomic clocks is that they offer a higher level of accuracy than traditional ones.

The Best Atomic Clocks

What’s the Best Atomic Clock?

If you’re looking to purchase a clock, an atomic clock should be at the top of your list. Unlike traditional clocks, the atomic ones don’t require any manual adjustments of time. They use automated systems to stay updated, meaning that they record accurate date and time 24/7. You’ll also need to determine the purpose you’d like this atomic clock to serve. Do you want an atomic clock that’s only capable of recording time or would you like one that comes with a weather station to record other data?

Below find the best atomics cloks:

1. AcuRite 02081M Atomic Clock

AcuRite 02081M Weather Station with...
2,794 Reviews
AcuRite 02081M Weather Station with...
  • Optimal viewing angle is at or above eye-level Oversized color weather station...
  • Atomic clock technology ensures split-second accuracy, and automatically updates...

The Acurite 02081M is a weather station and an atomic clock in one unit. As a weather station, it gives you up-to-date weather information and predictions. This is achieved using the patented self-calibrating technology incorporated in the device.

The weather details are shown on a 8” by 6” display. The display is large enough so you’re able to see the icons and read relevant information from a distance. It also has a slim design, and is easy to mount on a wall.

In addition to showing the weather, this device also records temperature. It’s fitted with a thermometer sensor, which tracks the current temperature both indoors and outdoors. You can choose to show the temperature in degrees Celsius or degrees Fahrenheit.

As an atomic clock, this unit is designed to show the time and date. Acurite makes use of a radio-controlled signal to adjust the time according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology radio station.

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2. Sharp Atomic Clock

Sharp Atomic Clock - Atomic Accuracy -...
376 Reviews
Sharp Atomic Clock - Atomic Accuracy -...
  • Early Model - Atomic Wall Clock

If you’re looking for an atomic clock that you can mount on a wall or simply place on a desk, Sharp Atomic Clock is an excellent option. It comes in a reasonable size, making it suitable to use on a table, kitchen counter or even a bookshelf.

But what really sets this anatomic clock are the large 3.3-inch numbers that can be seen from a distance. This clock shows the time, date and temperature. And the best part is, you never have to reset the clock because it receives daily WWVB updates.

One thing you should keep in mind though is that its battery powered. The main unit needs 3 AA batteries and the wireless outdoor sensor, which transmits outdoor temperature, uses 2 AA batteries. You’ll need to purchase these batteries separately as they are not included in the package.

2. La Crosse Technology 404-1220 Atomic Wall Clock

La Crosse Technology 404-1220 20 inch...
90 Reviews
La Crosse Technology 404-1220 20 inch...
  • 4 time zone settings: et, ct, mt, pt
  • Accurate atomic time with manual setting

If you’re looking for an atomic clock that you can mount on your living room wall, the La Crosse 404-1220 is a great option. It’s an ultra-large 20-inch round clock, so it will fit in nicely without getting overwhelmed by other décor elements.

Apart from its stylish design, La Crosse boasts automatic settings for aspects such as daylight savings. Also, it’s designed to support four time zones- et, ct, mt and pt. But before you can start enjoying its benefits, keep in mind that this clock is battery-operated. As such, you’ll need to purchase 1 C alkaline battery since it’s not been provided by the manufacturer.

3. Franklin CL-2 Atomic Digital Wall Clock

Britta Products Franklin CL-2 Large...
12 Reviews
Britta Products Franklin CL-2 Large...
  • Sets automatically by radio signal to atomic clock for accuracy (WWVB)
  • Automatically adjusts for daylight savings time

For those who want an atomic clock with the highest accuracy, the 10 inch Franklin CL-2 makes a strong contender. This atomic clock uses wireless radio signals from the WWVB station so as to provide the most precise time records.

Like La Crosse, this atomic clock can adjust to daylight savings automatically. However, you can still program the clock and time zones manually if you desire. The Franklin CL-2 is capable of supporting the following time zones: Atlantic, Pacific, Eastern, Mountain, Alaskan, Central and Hawaii. Other than time, this clock also shows the day of the week, indoor temperature and humidity levels.

4. Hito Atomic Digital Desk Wall Clock

hito 6.3' Large Digital Battery Atomic...
35 Reviews
hito 6.3" Large Digital Battery Atomic...
  • EASY TO SET: 5 simple steps and wait for the correct time to set (for more...
  • SELF-SETTING W/ 6 TIMEZONES: Atomic clock receives radio time signals from...

Are you looking to purchase an atomic clock that you can place on your office desk? If so, the hito Atomic Digital clock is an excellent option. It features a 6.3-inch display, which is a perfect size for a clock that will be placed on a desk.

Another plus of this atomic clock is the fact that you can use it at night. It’s fitted with smart auto nightlight technology, which enables you to use in darkness. Also, hito is an atomic alarm clock. In fact, it comes with two alarms which are operated using two different controllers for convenience.

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5. Glisteny Digital Atomic Wall Clock

Glisteny offers that best of digital atomic clocks. For one, it uses WWVB radio signals to record time accurately. This clock supports six different time zones, which is an advantage considering that most atomic clocks can only support four. Glisteny can display time in PST, CST, MST, EST, HAT, AST or AKT formats.

Glisteny comes with an with indoor outdoor temperature monitor. The temperatures are in displayed in both Celsius and Fahrenheit measurements.

Moreover, its 7.5-inch screen display can be is big enough, making it easy to read the time, date, day or temperature even if you’re not that close. Glisteny atomic clock can be set up on the table or mounted on a wall. Also, it uses 2 AA batteries, so remember to buy these as you place an order for the clock.

6. Marathon Jumbo Atomic Wall Clock

Marathon CL030025WD Commercial Grade...
570 Reviews
Marathon CL030025WD Commercial Grade...
  • Jumbo display - lcd display features 4.5-Inch digits for easy viewing
  • Self-setting/adjusting - using radio frequencies broadcast from nist's Colorado...

Atomic wall clocks are not just useful at home. They’re also used in public areas; from hospitals to banks and schools. But buying an atomic clock for a commercial setting can be tricky; it should have a minimalist design but still big enough to be seen. The Marathon Jumbo Atomic wall clock is the perfect choice for such applications.

Boasting a 16.5-inch display, the atomic clock shows digits that are 4.5-inches in size for easy viewing. Another feature that sets it apart is the multiple display mode. It shows time in both 12 and 24-hour formats. What’s more, Jumbo atomic clock supports six time zones: ast, cst, est, mst, nst and pst. And unlike other manufacturers that don’t bother to provide batteries, this one comes with 3 C long-lasting batteries.

What is an atomic clock and how does it work?

Atomic clocks are popular in a number of occasions. For instance, if you’ve best-atomic-clockever researched about how GPS receivers operate, you may have come across atomic clocks. Another area where atomic clocks are often cited is in advertisements for clocks capable of synchronizing themselves with the atomic clock in Boulder, Colorado. Overall, atomic clocks are very useful for science-related endeavors.

But before we delve into atomic clocks, we’ll start with a general overview of clocks. As you already know, the core function of a clock is keeping track of time. All clocks achieve this by taking count of the ticks of a resonator.

In the case of a pendulum clock, the resonator is represented by a pendulum, which works hand in hand with the gears responsible for counting pendulum resonations. The frequency at which this pendulum resonates is one swing per second.

A digital clock is different in that the resonator is represented by the oscillations on the power line or the oscillations of a quartz crystal. In this case, the precision of the clock relies on the accuracy of the resonator at the pre-determined frequency.

With an atomic clock, the resonator is the resonance frequencies of atoms. More specifically, the resonator is controlled by the frequency of the microwave electromagnetic radiation. This form of radiation is usually emitted or absorbed when an atom or molecule undergoes an energy change. The greatest benefit of this approach is that atoms resonate at fairly constant frequencies. If you pick an atom of cesium, you’ll realize that it resonates at the exact same frequency as other cesium atoms. Scientifically, Cesium-133 vibrates at a speed of 9,192,631,770 cycles a second. This level of precision cannot be compared to the one you’d get from a typical quartz clock.

With a quartz clock, its quartz crystal is designed in such a way that makes its oscillating frequency close to the standard frequency. However, due to the differences in manufacturing plants, every crystal ends up being slightly different. You also have to account for factors such as temperature, which alters the frequency of the quartz crystal. It is where atomic clocks reign supreme because their atoms always resonate at the same frequency.

The Invention of the Atomic Clock

The first person to suggest the idea of measuring time was one Lord Kevin back in 1879. Unfortunately, there was not much technology that he could work with to turn his concept to a reality. In fact, it was not until five decades later during that a specific method for measuring time was discovered. This happened during the development of magnetic resonance by Isidor Rabi.

In 1945, Isidor presented evidence showing that atomic beam magnetic resonance was useful in tracking time. Four years later, a functional atomic clock was invented at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards. Now known as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, this organization spearheaded the invention of the ammonia maser gadget. Although this device was less accurate than the current quartz time clock, it paved way for the research and exploration of the atomic clock concept.

A decade after the creation of the ammonia maser device, Jack Parry and Louis Essen came up with the first atomic clock that was able to track passage of time efficiently. Created at the National Physical Laboratory in United Kingdom, this atomic clock was founded on the cesium standard. This first atomic clock was calibrated using ephemeris time (ET) since it was the main unit of time then.

It is this early invention that led to the internationally accepted definition of the SI second, that is, the duration of 9192631770 cycles of radiation. This can then be equated to two energy levels of the caesium-133 atom.

What Are The Types of Atomic Clocks?

Currently, we have many different types of atomic clocks although they all employ the same concept. The only areas where these clocks differ is in the components used and the technique of detecting a change in energy levels. We can classify atomic clocks into three main categories:

Cesium atomic clocks

As its name suggests, this clock uses a beam of cesium atoms. This clock contains special elements that help in distinguishing cesium atoms containing energy levels via magnetic field.

Hydrogen atomic clocks

Hydrogen atomic clocks are a bit different from the cesium ones. For hydrogen atomic clocks to work, the hydrogen atoms have to be kept in the required energy level so that they don’t lose their higher energy too fast.

Rubidium atomic clocks

These are regarded the easiest types of atomic clocks. They are compact and utilize glass cells consisting of rubidium gas. This glass cell is designed to regulate its absorption of light at the optimal rubidium frequency.

The atomic clocks importance

The discovery and further research of atomic clocks has fostered multiple technological and scientific advancements. One of the biggest applications of atomic clocks is in creating the world wide system of precise position or as it’s popularly known- the Global Positioning System.

Another place where atomic clocks have proven to be useful is in areas that use signal radio transmitters. In fact, both long wave and medium wave broadcasting stations have been known to transmit exact carrier frequencies.

As a result of their accuracy in measuring time and frequencies, atomic clocks have become the standard for global time-keeping and distribution services. Not only do these devices help in regulating wave frequencies but they’re also employed in navigation satellite systems. At present, every GPS satellite is equipped with numerous atomic clocks.

Atomic clocks are also useful in the communications industry, which is not surprising since this is an area involving fast data rates and precise timing of events. You will find atomic clocks being used in mobile phones, landlines, aviation programs, the Internet and digital television.

However, if you want to determine the greatest benefit of atomic clocks, you should focus on the advantages that come about because of increased accuracy in scientific measurements. Take banks for instance: these are financial institutions that require very accurate clocks to affirm time and date stamps on important transactions. The atomic clocks used by banks consist of special GPS receivers, which help in establishing the exact date and time of the transactions as well as the order in which they occurred.

 Things to Look for When Buying an Atomic Clock


Purchasing an atomic clock doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Start by allocating a budget, that is, assess how much you’re willing to spend on the atomic clock. With an estimate budget, look at the designs available. When examining the design, one aspect you should pay close attention to is the material used in its construction. Plastic is the most common material. But if you want an atomic clock that will blend in nicely with your interior décor, wooden clocks make a better choice. You also need to ensure that the clock is durable. If you plan to install it outdoors, then you should opt for one made of waterproof elements.


One of the first things to check when buying any kind of clock is the level of accuracy it offers. Ideally, you should go for a radio-controlled atomic clock, capable of synchronizing data from the national atomic clock. Also remember to check the sensors for temperature and humidity as they can affect the time readings.


When it comes to display, you have the option of choosing between analog and digitized screens. Atomic clocks with analog displays are more popular because of their decent pricing. Although pricier, digital displays also have a couple of benefits such as large characters. Most digital displays start at 12 inch and beyond, making it easy to view the measurements.

Location sensitive

Atomic clocks work by using radio signals. It means that if you install them in an area where these signals are weak or are likely to be obstructed, the clock won’t function optimally. It might even start showing the wrong time. If you notice that the clock is not functioning well, consider changing the location.

No GMT support

Another thing you should take note of is that atomic clocks are not designed to support GMT time. All the information transmitted by the main time signal radio station in Colorado are displayed in UTC format. The UTC format is more reliable, especially when it comes to alarm clocks.

No water resistance

You probably already know this but it’s important to emphasize- atomic clocks are not water resistant. If you submerge them under water, they’ll get ruined instantly. So if you’re going

Tick-tock or not?

As mentioned previously, you can select between analog and digital atomic clocks, each of which has its own share of benefits. For instance, analog atomic clocks are pretty easy to read both during the day and at night. Unfortunately, not everyone can tolerate the tick-tock sounds they make all night long. If the sound is a deal breaker, you should go for digital atomic clocks, which operate silently.

Night vision necessary?

High-end digital atomic clocks come with extra features such as backlights to enhance their visibility at night. However, this is not an option incorporated in all atomic clocks. So if this is an important factor, ensure it has an atomic clock backlight.

Does it support my time zone?

The last thing you should check is whether the atomic clock works in your specific time zone. Most atomic clocks are designed to support four US-time zones. But there are some that support up to 6 or 8 time zones.

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Wrap Up

Atomic clocks have proven to be indispensable timepieces since they were first refined in 1955. These clocks are some of the most accurate and come with extra features such as recording humidity and temperature. If you’re planning to purchase an atomic clock, just ensure that it supports your time zone. Depending on where it will be installed, it should also have a wall mount or table stand. Plus, its display should be big enough for easy viewing.

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