I saw that one of the most-searched products for things not made in China was alarm clocks.
As hard as it was for me to track down any trace of air fryers or toasters not made in China, I figured looking for an alarm clock not made in China was going to be an impossible task.
Anyone except for the most willfully clueless people in the world should be able to see what China’s plan has been all along since being granted most favored nation status. Since the 1990s they have been gradually monopolizing every industry. They started with cheap plastic toys and alarm clocks but now that they’ve conquered these things, they’re investing their efforts into dominating other things, like solar cells, computers, and electric cars. And unless Americans stop buying up China-made products like pigs at a trough, they will win.
How does China take over these industries?
It goes back to Karl Marx: “control the means of production”. They control supply chains, from raw materials to manufacturing operations. With the full support of their central government, who rewards their domestic companies who destroy their environment and abuse their workers as long as they can “get away with it”. And hiding behind their “most favored nation” status (thanks Bill Clinton), they whitewash abuses with propaganda and PR.
What shocks me is how Americans and Europeans don’t only try to stop this from happening–they have accelerated it. Foolish politicians put in onerous regulations that make it impossible to maintain manufacturing operations in the US. Foolish union leaders push their members to demand wages that are far above what the market rate is, resulting in their members losing all their income completely. And foolish executives gleefully close down domestic infrastructure and throw money to China so they can build up theirs.
So can you even find an alarm clock not made in China anymore?
It’s not easy. If you look at all the “best of” lists on sites like Wirecutter and Consumer Reports, every single one cited as “the best” is not just made in China. And even if you search for “alarm clock” on Amazon, you won’t find one that’s not made in China. All the brands are no-name brands or nonsense brands like PEAKEEP and MOSITO. You can’t find even a licensed American brand anymore, because at some point China manufacturers realized that they didn’t need them anymore–why pay a brand like Timex for licensing rights when the consumer realizes the PEAKEEP is exactly the same crap? And if brands like Braun and Seiko think they’re going to escape this fate–good luck.
But that doesn’t mean the market is dead. Some manufacturers are sticking to their guns and continuing to maintain manufacturing outside of China. As is typical, what you’ll find are higher priced models from niche companies that can sell small quantities and still make enough of a profit to pay for workers and higher quality components. If you can afford one of these, buy one. You’ll have the best made clocks in the world AND support companies that have not bent the knee to the CCP.
1. Lemnos Riki Wooden Alarm Clock
In somewhat of a shocking move, Wirecutter did recommend this alarm clock. It’s literally a work of art, designed by Riki Watanabe, one of the pioneers of Japanese design who lived from 1911-2013. He also designed iconic wall clocks like the ones you can find here.
These are supposedly available on Amazon, but I cannot recommend using Amazon, as this product is only available from third party sellers, many with tell-tale China names like “tangyinxianzhensaishangmaoyouxianzerengongsi”. Sadly, most shoppers trust Amazon to screen for counterfeiters, but Amazon does not lift a finger. If you do choose to buy from an Amazon seller, your best chances are to find a third party seller based in Japan and to make sure the unit you purchase says “Made in Japan” on the face, but of course neither of those are foolproof.
Even though it’ll cost more, look to buy this on independent retailers like Jinen or Memoky, where they likely have a direct relationship with the manufacturer. Or, if you happen to be near a Lemnos store, buy from from them directly.
At over $100 it’s quite an investment, but think of it this way–you probably paid $1000 for your telephone 🙂
2. UTS Uhrentechnik Schwarzwald Alarm Clock
This alarm block made in Germany has all the things you want in a German-engineered clock–whisper-quiet German quartz movement, illuminated dial, crescendo alarm, and snooze button.
If you grew up before 1990, you’ll remember what a solidly-built alarm clock felt like. For one thing, it didn’t feel like it’d shatter into a thousand cheap plastic parts if you dropped it (or threw it against the wall).
You can buy it from Selva Technik, a German site.
3. Chelsea Clock Co Square Desk Alarm Clock
h/t to the folks at USA Love List for this one. Evidently they searched high and low for an alarm clock made in the USA, and this is the only one they found. It’s made by a company in Chelsea, Massachusetts that’s been around since 1897 and has a storied history, furnishing thousands of clocks for the US armed forces for use on ships during World War II, and by 1960’s becoming the only American company left that still made clocks. According to their Web site they continue to manufacture are repair clocks at their corporate headquarters in Massachusetts.
At over $300 it’s not cheap. But again, if you wanted cheap you can spend $10 for a model that’ll support tyranny and end up in a landfill. A clock like this is something you can pass on to your children and grandchildren.
You can buy directly from their site or from Houzz.
4. Qlocktwo Touch
I didn’t set out to do this, but I’m going up and up the food chain of alarm clocks, from a $100 to a $300 and now to a $800 alarm clock. But I think this is a good (if extreme) example of what happens to markets they become commoditized. It becomes a race to the bottom to see who can mass produce the cheapest clocks for the most people–a race that China always wins because they have their fingers on the scales.
But for people who can afford a little luxury, some companies will remain to serve them–based on the simple law of supply and demand, these will naturally be more expensive but you’ll get what you pay for.
In the case of this QLOCKTWO clock, which is made in Germany, you get another piece of art. Literally–these clocks have won more than 30 international design awards, including the Red Dot Design Award, the iF Product Design Award, and the ADC Europe’s Gold Award. These clocks will literally tell you the time. If it’s 11:30 PM, the clock will read “IT IS HALF PAST ELEVEN” in whatever language clock you purchase.
These pieces are crafted by hand in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany. They source from regional suppliers and manufacture all their own parts. Their Web site is a fascinating read–they make this cutting edge piece of art using a lot of techniques and quality control you’d expect in old world manufacturing.
5. Kit Cat Klock
This isn’t an alarm clock, but I cannot write a post about clocks not made in China without mentioning the Kit-Cat Klock.
I recently made a trip to Knotts Berry Farm in California. I was thrilled to find that unlike their counterparts at Disney a few miles away, Knotts Berry Farm seems to be making an effort to diversify where its souvenirs are made.
The highlight of my trip was finding a Kit-Cat Klock. They’re an iconic piece of Americana, invented by Earl Arnault in Oregon during The Great Depression to put a smile on Americans’ faces when they needed it most, and booming in the 1940s and 1950s, a fixture in businesses, soda fountains, and homes. In the 1960s, the company producing Kit-Cat Klocks renamed itself The California Clock Company and relocated to Southern California. The company stubbornly continued to make clocks in the USA, not just to outer plastic covering, but even down to the clock mechanism.
In the 1980s, there were virtually no electric motor manufacturers left in the US. The California Clock Company itself invented a new battery technology that could power the cat’s tail, and continues to produce it today.
Today, you can purchase your very own Kit-Cat Klock on their Web site in multiple colors and designs. You can also purchase it on Amazon.com, but make sure you purchase from Kit-Cat Klock’s official storefront, as there are almost certainly many China knock-offs.
The California Clock Company is also the exclusive USA distributor of Loetscher Cuckoo Clocks made in Switzerland, another traditional clock that has been overrun by cheap China manufacturers looking to cash in on consumer ignorance. You can find these on their site, as well as a handful on models on their Amazon storefront.
Have you come across any other alarm clock made outside of China? Let us know in the comments!
- alarm clocks