All chess clocks time the match. Some just time, some add delays, some add on, and other have variations for TIMING.

What else might be a factor in deciding to buy a clock that is primarily for personal use at speed chess in a club, cafe, or park, but also useful should one play in tournaments? For examples, cost, reliability, and ease of use are some factors. What would be the features that would help guide a purchase?

There might be other subtler ones, so a complete list for consideration is what is asked for. Comments on why would be useful too. EG what value does some certification add, if any.

I am thinking there could be easily a dozen or more of these NON-FUNCTIONAL characteristics.


3 Answers 3


Well I learned way more than I wanted to know about other considerations than mere timing.

This table may be collapsed into a long string of text someone please edit if that happens

Ease of use
Battery Life
Toggle method
maintenance required
Flag display
Ease of setting
Read out type
Safety against accidental reset
Counts moves
Useful for other than chess

Timing variations
- pre/post add
- pre/post delay
- fischer - bronstein
- hourglass - seesaw
- byo-yomi
- canadian OT
- guillotine
- bonus timing
- different periods timings

custom settings -MODIFY built in
custom settings NEW
Number of custom settings


I don’t think that it is possible to answer the question objectively. For ME, the main non-functional characteristic is the user interface. I prefer DGT-style UI, and i try to avoid Silver-style UIs.

Also, robustness is an important factor. A random drop or an emotional blow may not destroy a clock.

As i choose my clock for it’s functional characteristics, and there is ATM only one clock that fits my needs, the above non-functional characteristics would be k.o. criteria; everything else would be a mere nice-to-have list.

Your list in your answer contains a lot of functional characteristics (e.g. bronstein/fischer delay). Perhaps we have different views on functional/non-functional. Could you clarify yours?

  • I think you answered your own question. If those are what would drive your decision to buy then those are the key ones for you. I note that FIDE listed a few in their evaluation criteria. fischer/bronstein is a function that is offered in the clock to do timing as a preset option. My answer above listed a number of NONfunctional features that some people would consider important to them:Cost Size Accuracy Precision Ease of use Color Battery Life Reliability Ruggedness Toggle method maintenance required Flag display Analog/digital Shape Aesthetic Ease of setting Read out type .... Feb 2, 2020 at 20:07
  • What is a "Silver-style" UI?
    – patbarron
    Feb 5, 2020 at 0:21
  • That’s a user interface in the style of the „SchachTimer Silver“, one of the official FIDE approved digital chess clocks. Being developed and produced in Dresden (and btw a lot cheaper than official approved DGT clocks), it has been quite popular in Germany. I don’t know how popular this clock is elsewhere. Feb 5, 2020 at 21:57

For me, and the events I play in (and direct), my needs for functional characteristics are fairly simple - I'd like a clock to support at least a primary and a secondary time control (so it kind of has to have a move counter to be able to do that), with delay and increment settings. Most clocks on the market today have those (with the notable exceptions of the DGT 1001 and the DGT Easy [not the Plus model]). So my ultimate choice is going to be driven by the non-functional characteristics. As indicated by the OP in a comment on this question, getting these wrong can render the functional characteristics non-useful.

The non-functional characteristics that I personally find important are:

  • Quality and size of display. I want to be able to read the clock from some distance away, without glare. So many clocks I've seen get this wrong - if you're not right at the board, it can be very difficult to read the clock (both due to display size, and glare). In currently available clocks, I believe the DGT 3000 does this best.
  • For the way the player presses the clock, it would be nice if it was an actual button (well, two buttons), that actually go up and down (like an analog clock) so you can tell who's on move, and preferably with some real tactile feedback so you can know you pressed the button. Touch sensors, I can never tell if I've actually stopped my clock. The DGT "see-saw" doesn't really do it for me, as it can be difficult to see who is on move from some distance away (partly because of the color of the "see-saw" bar...) My choices for best here would be the Saitek Mephisto Competition / Competition Pro clocks (sadly no longer produced).
  • Well constructed, able to take a certain amount of punishment (in terms of rough use in blitz, or drops from tabletop height), and doesn't feel like it's going to fall apart in my hand when I press the clock (I'm looking at you, Excalibur Game Time / Game Time II...).
  • Ease of setting and changing the clock. I'd really like to have at least a chance of being able to set a clock without having a manual or cheat-sheet with me. Chronos and Z-Mart clocks are nightmares to me - especially as a TD, if I have to update a clock due to a time penalty or something, I'm just going to have to hope that the clock's owner knows how to do it. I know that if all you've got for user input is three buttons (which includes the two buttons that the players use to press the clock), it's sort of challenging, but still...
  • Battery type and life. I certainly want the batteries to last as long as possible, preferably, preferably for at least a couple of years of play. The batteries in my Saitek clocks last practically forever (or at least that's what it seems like to me...), but if I suddenly realize I have to change them during or immediately before an event - they're C cells, and I'm probably not going to be carrying a spare set of those around with me. The DGT 3000 uses AA cells, and it's perfectly reasonable to have spares of those in my chess bag, though I'm not sure how long those batteries last in that clock. I would presume the worst battery life would be with clocks that use LED displays like the Z-Mart clocks, but that's just a guess on my part.

My "daily driver" chess clocks that meet my non-functional requirements best are my Saitek Competition and Competition Pro clocks. I've just recently acquired a DGT 3000 and may try to switch to that for a while to see how I like it...

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