Broken Clock Tattoo Meaning, Designs & Ideas

The image of a broken clock usually represents breaking free from the structure of time. It may also mean severing ties with the past and leaving certain things behind. Freedom is the main symbolism of a broken clock tattoo.

This article will explore the various meanings of broken clock tattoos.

Clock Symbolism

In today’s society, people are ruled by the clock. Calendars and schedules tell people what to do, where to be, and when to be there. Whether it is going to work, attending school, or other responsibilities, the clock plays a major role in modern-day life.

Though it may be difficult to imagine life without its current routine and structure, people were not always so controlled by the clock. In fact, mechanical clocks were not even invented until the early 1300s. 

History of the Clock

Prior to the invention of clocks, people generally told time through the use of sundials. These instruments consisted of a flat disc and a gnomon that cast a shadow upon it. The first sundial is thought to have been developed in Egypt in 1500 BCE.

In the 1400s, clocks were mainly used in common areas like town squares. It was not until the 1500s that it became more popular to have a clock in the home. Today it is unusual to find a home that doesn’t have multiple time-keeping devices, whether these be clocks, watches, digital displays, or phones.

Broken Clock Tattoos

Clock images are often seen in tattoos and the broken clock has a unique significance. Broken clock tattoos are often large enough that details such as numbers on the clock face can be easily seen. These tattoos are typically done in black and gray and may use numbers or Roman numerals.

A broken clock tattoo sometimes shows the clock face smashed with visible broken glass. The tattoo may also show the numbers falling off the clock or floating away from it. Other illustrations include the clock crumbling or breaking into pieces.

Broken Clock and Freedom

The image of a broken clock most commonly represents a sense of freedom. It can be used to illustrate an individual’s displeasure with modern-day reliance on time, routines, and scheduling. The broken clock can be a depiction of a person’s rejection of the time-focused culture they live in.

Someone who has lived a life that has been heavily influenced by keeping time may choose this tattoo. For example, a person who had a job that was characterized by deadlines may like the idea of breaking free from these restraints. Similarly, someone who had a job that involved getting up very early every day or working late every night may opt for a broken clock tattoo.

Living in the Moment

A broken clock tattoo can represent a desire to be more present in life and to stop thinking so much about the past or the future. This goal of living in the moment and becoming more engaged with life as it happens can be symbolized by the image of a broken clock.

Many people feel restricted by the clock and how it determines what they do with their days. Individuals often have the desire to have more control over their lives and not be so limited in terms of the time they have to pursue their dreams.

A person may choose to get a tattoo of a broken clock as a representation of their commitment to live with more freedom. Someone who wants to live a life that isn’t so restrained by scheduling may choose this tattoo to remind them of what is truly important to them.

The broken clock image can symbolize a person’s disagreement with the capitalist culture and its emphasis on working and earning wages. An individual may get a broken clock tattoo as a representation of their resistance to this system and their hope for a more holistic life that isn’t ruled by time and money.

Leaving the Past Behind

An illustration of a broken clock can also represent leaving one’s past behind them. It may symbolize a person’s need to focus on the present or the future without being controlled by what has happened to them previously.

Someone who has had a difficult past may choose a broken clock tattoo to show that they are leaving that part of their life behind and choosing to move forward. This image shows a person’s optimism for the future and new beginnings.

An individual may opt to get a broken clock tattoo if they have severed ties with people from their past. A person who grew up in an abusive home may choose this tattoo when they are finally able to gain their independence. Someone who struggled with poverty or addiction in the past might get this tattoo to symbolize a better life in the future.

The broken clock tattoo can be representative of an individual’s breaking ties with toxic family members and act as a reminder that they are now focusing on themselves. This image can be seen as a person’s unwillingness to let their past or their upbringing determine who they are today.

Freedom from Incarceration

Another interpretation of the broken clock tattoo is that it represents a person’s release from jail or prison. A person who is incarcerated has all of their time controlled and monitored, including when they eat and sleep. The phrase “doing time” explains the complete lack of control a person has over how they spend their hours while in jail.

Upon release from incarceration, a person may choose to get a tattoo of a broken clock to represent their freedom. They are no longer restrained by the system and are able to welcome back opportunities and hope into their life. 

The broken clock tattoo can be a permanent reminder of the person’s experience in jail and provide some encouragement to continue on a more positive path. This image is symbolic of breaking the chains of their past and progressing forward in life.

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