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Kitchen analogue clocks are about as mundane as paint brushes; they are available in many different sizes, styles and types, but when all is said and done, they still show the time in 12 hours.
Most homeowners I know still own clocks that go by the name of "West Clox," or even sometimes a "Timex," branded clock. I've owned a few over the years from pound shop ones which didn't last and a Seiko wall clock which is simple, white, easy to clean and just does its job until its single battery gives out. The only additional bonus it has is that it has a day/date format but it's still mechanical as general wall clocks go supported in power by a 1.5V AA battery.
Last year my parents 12-year-old West Clox decided to give up. It had been dropped, it had been washed and its brown vinyl background with gold Roman numerals was decidedly well out of date. What my parents didn't like so much was having to get up on a chair, prise the clock off the wall and keep changing it to an hour behind, an hour more for the timings of British Summer and the Winter seasons. Fair enough that they're of retirement age now so at the time, I researched the world of radio waves and signals to see if there was such a thing as a low priced clock which has this "new" technology.
Argos at the time was selling radio-controlled clocks and at the price of £50 I considered the prices a bit over what I was prepared to pay. Given that radio technology has been around for a fair bit now, I still consider an analogue clock with a radio-controlled signal built in pricey for £50! Towards the end of the summer last year Argos had their famous sales, and included in the sale was this Acctim radio controlled silver effect clock. At a cost price of £10 (it is now £8-99, catalogue number 2551966) what seemed like a bargain turned out to be the best bargain yet for minimal human involvement. It even comes with a battery to start you off!
How do these clocks work? Radio-controlled signals are basically the same type of signals which DAB radios use to gain the time precisely. The signals come from an Atomic clock, which at one time was always located in Rugby but had moved its location to Anthorn in Cumbria in April 2007. Signals are therefore sent through the air, which clocks pick up and naturally set the time and date (if fitted.) This is usually evident in the way the small and large hands continually spin automatically until the signal has been set and starts up the moment you insert a battery. No more changing it manually when this clock does it for you!
The location of any radio-controlled clock is very important. Sited near microwaves, ovens and digital systems such as a radio will not make the pick up clearer but in actual fact will block signals to reach the clock.
Design wise the Acctim is the least offensive even if its silver effect dial is made of plastic; it doesn't however look very cheap even though it is silver paint and up close just reveals matt silver paint rather than the glittery style copied from Dyson. Although Quartz in nature (meaning it doesn't have LCD/Digital numericals) the numbers on the Acctim are also very well designed with clarity. Attention has been given to the second dashes and generally from a distance it is easy to tell the time from its position high up in our kitchen. No confusing Roman numerals here and simply an Arabic font with numbers 1-12 in thick black writing. A built in hook at the back ensures an ease of hanging up.
Being so lightweight as it is entirely cast in plastic means that whilst it has a slight concave design on the front plastic, it is thankfully a lot easier to wipe down than our previous clock. Not many people will admit to washing down their kitchen clock every month or so, but the last one had acquired so much grease, dirt and grime we didn't want the same thing to happen to the Acctim. Therefore a damp cloth is all that is required to wash it down.
In terms of battery power, one AAA 1.5 battery is all that is required to power the Acctim and the original battery didn't last long. Initially when purchased the battery included had to be changed after 10 months which was disappointing but soon discovered that a Duracell or Energiser battery gives the best yearly performance. Whilst it reveals a cheap design on the back, one battery needs to be locked in properly to ensure that the clock works. Whilst it was fun at the time watching it change an hour forward the year we purchased the Acctim, it's now taken as "procedure done," whenever it changes the time automatically. Forward motion reveals a slight ticking whenever both hands move but this is just to show that it is sensing the time change and adjusting accordingly.
One of the downsides to this clock early on was the worry of battery power failing and this was down to the fact that a cheap pound shop Panasonic battery had been used in lieu of Duracell. Initially the clock started to tell the wrong time until it completely stopped and this is when we knew it was time to change the battery. Make no doubt about it, if there's one battery that seems to do justice in terms of yearly changing as opposed to shorter, it's a Duracell or Energiser battery.
So if you're fed up having to twice a year remove your normal kitchen clock just to put the hours forward and backwards, the Acctim deserves a second look. Sensible, simple and easy to see the price alone makes much for its justification. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2008
Requires 1xAA battery