The Dalí Clock

I must’ve received this clock (as a gift) somewhere between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, when I was very much in to the Surrealist art movement, using it as the focus for much of my A-Level Art work.


To say I appreciate this clock is an understatement. I’ve never (knowingly) met anyone else who owns one and the majority of visitors will comment on it. But it stopped running correctly a few years and, in spite of several battery exchanges, I couldn’t get it back to its best… Until now!

This is actually an image of the OLD mechanism, after removal.
This is actually an image of the OLD mechanism, after removal.

If it wasn’t the battery then it had to be the clock mechanism. Until I actually searched online for information on this, I’d always assumed it would mean some complicated repair for the hands and eye of a specialist… But my replacement mechanism (complete with a full set of hands) cost me less than £4 on eBay!


Removing the old hands was simple, having already broken the seconds hand… They can be carefully raised up and removed from the tiny shaft in the centre (a friction fit). To get the actual mechanism free though, you first have to remove that brass nut (I think it was an 11mm spanner).


I imagine plainer clocks are much simpler to work with but I have the bend the rubber face of this one almost completely back on itself before I could wrestle with the old mechanism enough to remove it. I had some trouble installing the new one, as it needs to slide and be pushed forwards simultaneously before it will click in to position.

Of course, it’s based on one of Salvador Dalí’s most famous paintings – but that’s not to imply he painted just one piece with melting clocks.

The mechanism I bought seems like a very good match. Both of the main hands are a little different in style but that’s not something you’re ever likely to notice (the old shaft was of a smaller diameter, so I couldn’t re-use the hands). I’m a little disappointed that this one doesn’t tick. Instead, the third hand turns freely. I appreciate the tick can bother some people but I’d always found it quite homely. Although, I’m sure I can manage without it (just like the long-forgotten bag of plastic spiders that came with the original packaging).

If you have a treasured clock that’s in need of a repair then don’t be disheartened; do not consider throwing it away because a simple replacement of the mechanism is relatively cheap and easy.

Thanks for reading.

4 thoughts on “The Dalí Clock

  1. I am very glad everything worked out well for you. Ticking clocks make me mad, so I’d rather call it a good choice.

    Kind regards


    1. Thank you, Helga. I appreciate that ticking sounds aren’t for everyone – although it did bother me when it used to tick without the hands turning and before the repair! 😉

  2. Love the Dali clock Olly. My kids bought me a plastic one, as a novelty gift, that appears to ooze/drip over a shelf. I’ve long been a fan of Dali’s work, and the clock is something I have been contemplating making for a while. Not such a simple task for a turner though, where everything is mostly round.
    I am also one of the many who finds the tick of a clock soothing, so see where you are coming from there.

    Best wishes


    1. Thank you, Tom! The one I have can also be set so that it almost hangs over a shelf… I prefer to be able to see it upright. It’s more of a carving project, I think, if one was to make one from wood. Surely you could create something ‘surreal’ using the off-centre turning technique? Probably not a melting clock, though.

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