Skip to main content
Ball Clock
Iconic Designs

Ball Clock

About the Design

The Ball clock — a starburst-shaped assemblage of lollipop-like brass spokes capped with lacquered birch orbs, playfully mismatched hands and absolutely no numerals — was the first of more than 150 clock models conceived in the New York City offices of legendary writer, architect and furniture maker George Nelson (1908–86). As Stanley Abercrombie reported in his 1994 book George Nelson: The Design of Modern Design, the first sketches of the oddly configured timepiece materialized one night in 1947, when a group of design luminaries worked their way through a roll of drafting paper as well as a number of cocktails.


Nelson was joined at his Manhattan studio by futurist architect Buckminster Fuller, sculptor Isamu Noguchi and a young designer named Irving Harper, who worked for Nelson and who is now credited with the Ball clock concept. “We were all involved in cooking up these clocks,” Nelson told Abercrombie of the event.


Two years later, in 1949, the Howard Miller Clock Company, once a division of Herman Miller — where Nelson was director of design for nearly three decades — introduced the Ball clock. With its high-grade quartz movement, curious color scheme and balance of geometric forms, the abstract design found its way into homes nationwide soon after it went to market. Nelson later remarked that the whimsical timepiece was ubiquitous, frequently appearing in advertisements set in a kitchen. And thanks to its resemblance to a ball-and-stick model of an atom, it came to symbolize the postwar Atomic Age. Today, the Ball clock is available in a variety of configurations from Vitra and is powered by a single AA battery.


George Nelson Ball Clock

Filter Results
to
Item Location
3
2
2
1
1
Vintage George Nelson Ball Clock for Howard Miller
By George Nelson
Located in Brooklyn, NY
The ball clock (1949) was the first of more than 150 clocks designed by George Nelson associates for the Howard Miller clock company, which sold them from 1949s-the 1980s. The ball c...
Category

Vintage 1950s Mid-Century Modern Wall Clocks

Materials

Wood

A Vintage George Nelson Ball Clock
By George Nelson
Located in St.Petersburg, FL
A classic George Nelson/Howard Miller ball clock. Mounts right into an outlet, original painted orange balls.
Category

Vintage 1950s North American Mid-Century Modern Wall Clocks

Materials

Brass

1950s Swiss George Nelson Ball Clock for Howard Miller by Fehlbaum Brothers
By George Nelson
Located in Frisco, TX
The European version of the design classic ball clock from George Nelson for Howard Miller. Manufactured in Bern Switzerland by the Fehlbaum Brothers in the 1950s. The inner Workings...
Category

Vintage 1950s Swiss Wall Clocks

Materials

Copper

Ball Wall Clock No. 4755 in Brass, Steel and Maple Wood, 1948-1950
By George Nelson, Howard Miller
Located in New York, NY
Ball wall clock, model no. 4755. Designed 1947, this example produced 1948-50. Manufactured by Howard Miller Clock Company, Zeeland, MI. Brass, steel, maple. The ball clock was inclu...
Category

Vintage 1940s American Modern Wall Clocks

The Nelson Bubble Lamp Series