What are retro flip clocks?

Retro flip clocks, also known as flip clocks or flip-style clocks, are a type of timekeeping device that display the time using a series of mechanical or digital flip cards. These clocks were popular during the mid-20th century and are often associated with a vintage or retro aesthetic. They have a distinctive design that sets them apart from traditional analog or digital clocks.

Bring it back to the 60's with the retro flip down clock.
Bring it back to the 60's with the retro flip down clock.

Retro flip clock´s or commonly known as an “analog flip clock“ is a kind of analog clock wherein it has a digital display but has an analog mechanism.

The flip clock is composed of “leaves” which is attached to a wheel. The “leaves” is made up of plastic with numbers printed on one side. As the wheel turns, the plastic “leaves” moves, thus displaying the time.

Flip clocks usually creates an audible sound when the “leaves” flip. But there is a distinction between the hour “leaf” and the minute “leaf” since the hour “leaf” is much louder when it flips. Retro flip clocks usually come in a 12-hour or a 24-hour notation.

The originator of the flip clock is an Italian architect named Gino Valle. He designed the first analog flip clock around 1950’s. Flip clocks only differ in appearance but the mechanism is still the same. The image below shows a Retro Flip Down Clock and the next image is a retro flip clock designed by Gino Valle.

Nowadays, it is hard to find flip clocks since it is considered obsolete. But there are specialty shops selling retro flip clocks for collectors or those who wants some unique clocks.

Online stores such as Barnes and Noble, Little Clock Shop, eBay, and Amazon offers different kinds of retro flip clocks from wall flip clocks to desk flip clocks.

Handling of Retro Flip Clocks

Retro flip clocks are fragile so it should be handled with care. Since it is composed of small parts inside its casing, it is important to see to it that it should not be moved frequently to avoid displacing the parts.

Before opening the casing of retro flip clocks, consider consulting an expert so as not to cause more damage to the clock. Consider placing your flip clock in a safe place to avoid accidentally breaking it.

Here’s how retro flip clocks typically work:

Display Mechanism: Retro flip clocks consist of a set of cards, usually made of plastic or cardboard, with individual digits (0 through 9) printed on them. These cards are stacked in a row or column inside the clock.

Flipping Action: To display the time, the clock mechanism flips over the appropriate cards to reveal the current hour and minute. The flipping action is often accompanied by a distinctive sound, which adds to the charm of these clocks.

Hour and Minute Cards: There are separate sets of cards for the hours and minutes, and they flip independently when the time changes. When the time advances from 9:59 to 10:00, for example, the minute cards flip to display ”00,” while the hour cards remain the same until the next hour change.

Visibility: The time is typically displayed through a window or frame on the front of the clock, allowing you to easily read the digits as they flip.

Power Source: Retro flip clocks can be powered by either batteries or electricity, depending on their design.

Retro Flip Clocks repair

Since retro flip clocks are vintage pieces, there are only few people who can troubleshoot such clocks. When purchasing retro flip clocks, make sure that it comes with information as to where the buyer should go when he will encounter problems with the flip clock.

There may be online tutorials on how to fix flip clocks, it is still better to bring it to an expert.

Has a passion for and specializes in collecting antique clocks. An enthusiast who values and seeks out timepieces from the past, which range from centuries-old tallcase clocks to more recent mid-20th-century mechanical clocks. I help ensure that these valuable artifacts continue to be appreciated and passed down through generations.