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We go on about Rhythm Alarm Clocks so much we’d thought we should do a blog post about them!

Plastic, crudely made, space age designs – what’s not to love?

A very brief history – this Japanese company has been making clocks since 1950. To be frank we don’t know much about their early days, and they still shift millions of units today, but we only care for the period of the 1960’s and 1970’s. In 1972 Rhythm took the number one position in the world for clock production!

This is when the colours were best, the shapes were best and I think key to their collectability and recent surge in popularity – the metallic style clock faces!

Finding information on this period of Rhythm’s history is not easy. What we do know is that they had about five or six more commonly found body shapes, including the very popular chrome pedestal, about ten to twelve different plastic body colours and a similar number of the metallic style faces. There are many more not so common models, some of which we’ll show here.

Something else that also seems to be prevalent is that either Rhythm syndicated their designs to other brands or vice versa, because there are many identical designs by Impex, Coramatic (Coral), Citizen, Garant, Elgin and Ginza. Even more confusing we’ve seen a Rhythm pedestal clock on Etsy branded Caravelle who were a division of the Bulova Watch company – further information on this aspect would be greatly appreciated!

These clock tick. And loud. Not your silent sweep second hand or a subtle tick, this clock lets you know it’s there.

Simple to maintain, easy to swap body parts and easy to clean, meaning these clocks can be married to create your own colourways. There are a few slightly tricky aspects to overcome but when you’ve taken as many apart as I have it gets quite easy as they are all fundamentally put together the same way.

To bring the plastic back to life takes no more than a light clean with non abrasive chemicals, rub some Vaseline into the plastic and polish off the excess with a duster! Some of the faces on the round styles can powder and flake so look out for this when buying.

Below we’ve outlined the most popular models, (In our eyes anyway!), along with shape numbers and one or two rarer designs. A few we don’t have shape numbers for so we’d appreciate any emails with missing gaps 🙂

Also down the base of the page you’ll find a breakdown of shape numbers, body and face colours. We imagine there’s many more out there we’re yet to find……


Shape 51143

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Image credit Steve Optix

51143-b

Image credit Steve Optix

A very common shape but cool and in demand no less! We’ve had a number of these pass through the Retro Mojo stock room.


Shape 51111

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Image credit Steve Optix

51111-c

Image credit unknown

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Image credit Etsy

The above is a Ginza brand version of the 51111. This style along with 51141 are often referred to as Tulip clocks. Tokei of Japan also made a very similar clock but it was slightly more crude and not as stylish, an almost identical body, at first we thought this was another ‘syndicated’ design.


Shape 51102

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Image credit Steve Optix

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Image credit Vicent.ZP

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Image credit Steve Optix

Gorgeous blue, this one’s for sale – click here for details.


Shape 51141

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Image credit Steve Optix

The classic ‘Headlight’ pedestal version that seems to be the most desirable among the various shapes. This one really iconifies mid century space age design. We’ve seen Citizen examples of this one with the original 1973 price label for ¥3000.

 

This one’s currently available for sale – click here for details.

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Image credit Vicent.ZP

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Image credit Vicent.ZP

This is the Carvelle version, note the hours markers are a different orientation to the Rhythm versions.

51141-red

Image credit Beetle2001cybergreen


Shape 51163

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Image credit Steve Optix

We’ve only seen the one of these and we love it!

This one’s for sale – click here for details.


Shape 51156

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Image credit Etsy/Ebay

Showing alternative brands of this not so often seen ‘TV’ pedestal – one by Rhythm and one by Citizen.


Shape 51129

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Image credit Steve Optix

This one also comes in blue marble and white marble with corresponding colour faces!

This one’s currently available for sale – click here for the details.


Oblong version 

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Image credit unknown

We haven’t got our hands on one of these so please let us know if you have the shape number. We’ve also seen this in a red but imagine there’s many more colours out there.


Cube Pedestal

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Image credit unknown

Not a great image I’m afraid but we’ve only ever seen the one of these.


Shape 51116

51116

Image credit Ebay

This is a version of shape 51111 minus the pedestal, on top of what we think is a common blue stripe box that these clocks were often shipped in. We’ve also seen Rhythm clocks shiped in spotty boxes!


T Pedestal

t-pedestal

Image credit unknown

This is one of the least common but very cool designs, shame they didn’t do more orange across the other shapes!


Squoval shape

A mixture of Rhythm and Impex branding

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Image credit Vicent.ZP

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Image credit Vicent.ZP

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Image credit Vicent.ZP


Shape 51133

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Image credit Vicent.ZP


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IMG_3281

Instructions and guarantee from a shape 51102, purchased from H Samuel in Manchester on the 31st July 1974, no sign of the price paid unfortunately.

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Shape and colours

51111 – Cylinder head on pedestal
51116 – Similar to 51111 but no pedestal
51141 – ‘Headlight’ Pedestal
51102 – Oval face
51143 – Oval face on raised foot
51156 – ‘TV’ shape on pedestal
51129 – Sphere on pedestal
51163 – ‘TV’ shape
51133 – Flat top and bulbous base

Face Colours

  • Purple
  • Red
  • Blue
  • Silver
  • Brown
  • Black
  • Champagne
  • Amber

Body Colours

  • Cream
  • Red
  • Dark blue
  • Royal blue
  • Green
  • Turquoise
  • Wood effect
  • Mustard Yellow
  • Black

Metallic Faces

  • Gold/brown
  • Champagne/blue
  • Red/gold
  • Red/pink
  • Green/champagne
  • Orange
  • Green

Links

Rhythm Clocks on Flickr
Retro Mojo


Photos have been given credit where possible. Special thanks goes to Vicent.ZP for letting us use some of his wonderful photos. Thank you also to Adelle and Justin from H is for Home for the fantastic title image! Also much thanks to Paul Beetle2001cybergreen for the use of his great shape 51141 image.

UPDATE

We’ve just received these photos courtesy of Ron France of this example we’ve not a seen before! The model number is 3RA030. Many thanks Ron!

 

Many thanks to Sara for sending us in this model 3RA018 that I’d not seen before!

 

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