swisswatch(1) the mother of all X Toolkit clocks


swisswatch [-option ...]


Swisswatch is an analog clock for X that is highly customizable by means of resources.


Handles minute-hand display correctly when ticking more often than once a minute.

Handles arbitrary number of hands and/or mark specifications.


-fg foreground color
choose a different color for the hands and marks.
-bg background color
choose a different color for the background.
-tick time
the interval between updates of the display. This should be a positive floating-point number. -geometry geometry define the initial window geometry; see X(1).
-display display
specify the display to use; see X(1).
causes the clock to not reshape itself and ancestors to exactly fit the outline of the clock.
causes the second and minute hands to behave differently at the turn of the minute. This mode tries to mimick the Look and Feel of the swiss federal railway clocks.


.tickTime / .TickTime
Time between ticks, in seconds. The hands will move this often. (All hands have their positions recomputed and redrawn each time the clock ticks.) This is a floating-point value, though values less than the system's clock resolution will not work very well. Ticks occur precisely on the appropriate boundary, regardless of when the program was started; for example, if tickTime is 5, ticks occur precisely when gettimeofday().tv_sec%5 changes.
.numMarks / .NumMarks
Number of sets of marks around the clock face.
.child_n.cycle / .Mark.Cycle / .Hand.Cycle
For a mark, the number of marks in set n. For a hand, the number of ticks corresponding to one complete turn of the hand.
.child_n.outsideEnd / .Mark.OutsideEnd
Outside end of marks in set n, as a radial distance.
.child_n.length / .Mark.Length
Length of marks in set n; the marks extend from the outsideEnd position inward for this distance.
.child_n.phase / .Mark.Phase
Phase of mark set n. This specifies a rotation of the whole set of marks. The default is 0, which specifies that a mark appear at the straight-up ("12-o'clock") position, with the other number-1 marks (if any) spaced evenly around the face. If phase is nonzero, it specifies a rotation of the entire set of marks clockwise. The value is the rotation, as a fraction of the distance from one mark to the next. For example, any integer value will have no visible effect (any desired effect corresponds to some value in [0..1]). Experimentation is recommended.
.child_n.centerX / .Mark.CenterX
.child_n.centerY / .Mark.CenterY
These specify where on the clock face the center of the circle formed by the marks is to be. The X and Y coordinates are scaled so that the bounding square of the clock face is [-1..1] x [-1..1]. This allows for placing circles of marks centered at points other than the center of the clock face; this is useful primarily in conjunction with the corresponding options for hands.
.child_n.foreground / .Mark.Foreground
Color used to draw a mark or hand.
.nChildren / .NChildren
Number of hands and marks on the clock.
The class of the hand or mark, currently only "Hand" and "Mark" are supported.
.child_n.width / .Hand.Width
The width of the hand. For triangular hands, this is the width of the base; for rectangular hands, this is the width of the rectangle; and for circular hands, this is the diameter of the circle. If the width of a triangular or rectangular outline hand is zero, the hand is drawn as a single line instead of the full shape.
.child_n.shape / .Hand.Shape
The shape of the hand. Hands can be triangular, rectangular, or circular; the allowed values are "triangle", "rectangle", "circle", "triangular", "rectangular", and "circular". Illegal values produce a complaint and a default is used.
.child_n.render / .Hand.Render
The rendition of the hand. Hands can be drawn as outlines or as filled shapes; the allowed values are "outline", "fill", "outlined", and "filled". Illegal values produce a complaint and a default is used.
.child_n.strokeWidth / .Hand.StrokeWidth
The width of strokes used to draw the hand, when the hand is drawn in a way that uses strokes. A value of 0 uses so-called "thin" lines, which are often faster.
.child_n.strokeWidthR / .Hand.StrokeWidthR
If a non-zero floating point number is specified, the stroke width will always be the product of this number and the clock's outer radius (in x direction if it is an ellipsis).
.child_n.cap / .Hand.Cap
The line cap style used when drawing hands. This produces no visual effect except when drawing triangular or rectangular hands of width 0. Legal values are "notlast", "butt", "round", "projecting", "capnotlast", "capbutt", "capround", and "capprojecting".
.child_n.join / .Hand.Join
The line join style used when drawing hands. Legal values are "miter", "round", "bevel", "joinmiter", joinround", and "joinbevel".
.child_n.cycle / .Hand.Cycle
The number of seconds it takes for the hand to circle around the face once. For example, a normal second hand will give 60, a normal minute hand 3600. If this is small compared to the tickTime value, the hand will move by visually large amounts each tick; this may or may not be desirable. The value may be floating-point.
.child_n.phase / .Hand.Phase
An offset applied to the time of day before computing the hand position. To determine the position of a hand, the following is computed:

((now - tz - phase) % cycle) / cycle

where `now' is the current time of day (obtained with time(3)), tz is a correction factor for the timezone as found in the tm_gmtoff field of the structure returned by localtime(3)), phase is the value of the phase resource for the hand, and cycle is the value of the cycle resource for the hand. The result is a number from 0 to 1, which is mapped into an angular position, with 0 being straight up, .25 being straight right, .5 being straight down, etc.

The simplest way to determine the desired phase value for a hand is to experiment. It is usually obvious that the value should be a multiple of something like 3600; try various multiples until you get the desired hand position.

.child_n.color / .Hand.Foreground
The color used for drawing the hand. Hands are drawn opaquely in increasing numerical order. / .Hand.Center.X / .Hand.Center.Y
These specify where on the clock face the pivot point of the hand is to be. The X and Y coordinates are scaled so that the bounding square of the clock face is 1..1] x [-1..1]. This allows hands to rotate about points other than the center of the clock face, as with some watches.
.geometry / .Geometry
Geometry specification, when none is given on the command line. If no geometry spec can be found anywhere, the equivalent of 200x200+100+100 is used.
.background / .Background
Color used as a background for all drawing.
.name / .Name
A string, which is stored as the window manager name for the window. If none is given, "xwatch" is used.
.iconName / .IconName
A string, which is stored as the window manager icon name for the window. If none is given, "xwatch" is used.
.railroad / .Railroad
Enables or disables Swiss-railway-clock mode, as described under the -railroad command-line option. The value can be "true", "false", "yes", or "no".
.circular / .Circular
If set, the clock will remain circular even if one tries to resize it to a non-circular ellipse. This is the previous behavior. The possible values are the same as for .swiss/.Swiss.


The distributed application defaults files define various different looks for swisswatch. Try them out by calling it as


swisswatch -name swisswatch

swisswatch -name fancy

swisswatch -name botta

swisswatch -name swissclock

swisswatch -name oclock


If you would like your clock to be viewable in color, include the following in the #ifdef COLOR section you read with xrdb:

*customization: -color

This will cause swisswatch to pick up the colors in the app-defaults color customization file: /usr/lib/X11/app-defaults/SwissWatch-color.


Copyright 1989, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
See X(1) for a full statement of rights and permissions.


Simon Leinen, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne


Der Mouse <[email protected]> wrote the mclock program that already featured most of the functionality: smooth movement of the minute hand and excessive configurability. I basically reimplemented mclock as a Toolkit application. This manpage also contains slightly adapted text from mclock.doc.