Military Time vs Standard Time

The skilled horologists at Chelsea Clock - America's premier clockmaker since 1897 - are often asked about the differences between military time, and what most of our customers refer to as standard or "civilian" time. While the difference between military time versus standard time is easy to explain, there is usually an underlying question that isn't articulated; what our inquisitive friends really want to know is, why does the U.S. military operate on a 24-hour clock?

We here at Chelsea Clock are happy to explain. The U.S. military, along with all other modern global militaries, operates on a 24-hour clock for pure efficiency. There are 24 hours in a day, as you're well aware. By demarcating the hours within a 24-hour time frame (or day) with a specific number, ranging from 0100 (1) to 2400 (24), any confusion that might arise between AM and PM when relying upon a standard civilian time is eliminated.

For instance, 1:00 AM in military time is expressed as 0100 (zero one hundred hours), while 1:00 PM would be represented as 1300 (thirteen hundred hours). If the operation starts at 5:00 AM, you'd want to make sure your commanders and troops understand that it begins at 5:00 in the morning (0500 military time), and not 5:00 PM. It's a small thing, but small errors can have large consequences when considering the important role of the military.

Military Minutes

Another importance difference between the two ways to tell time is with minutes. Military and standard time use minutes and seconds in almost the same manner, but military time isn't written with a colon. For example, 1:05 PM would be expressed as "1305 hours." When converting from standard civilian time to military time, or vice versa, the minutes and seconds do not change.

There's one more interesting case you should know about when it comes to understanding military time. If you want to know how to say 0000 in military time, or midnight, which can be written as either 2400 or 0000, say "twenty-four hundred hours." Even though you'll often see midnight printed as 0000, this hour is considered the starting point of a new day.

Military time is a precise method for timekeeping used by the military, as well as plenty of different emergency service agencies and personnel, including law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical professionals and others. Many countries around the world also use military time as a way to track and report time. Be sure to brush up on how they tell time in foreign countries when you decide to book a trip to visit!

Military Clocks from Chelsea Clock

Now that you better understand military time versus standard time, you're ready to incorporate a military time clock into your home. Chelsea Clock's special-edition Military Clock Collection, with every timepiece bearing the official insignias of the U.S. Navy, includes one unique timepiece that offers both 24-hour and 12-hour markings to facilitate ease of use.

Our U.S. Navy Patriot Wall Clock, which is a faithful reproduction of our World War II-era Navy engine room clock - complete with a brass screw locking hinge bezel and precision German quartz movement - displays the time in a 12/24-hour format. This makes it the perfect gift for a loved one, friend or colleague to cherish - perhaps to remind them of their time in the service, but also as a clock that can be handed down to the next generation.

For any questions you have about our clocks or to learn more about our Military Clock Collection, feel free to contact us by phone or email. Be sure to also ask us about our engraving services to make your clock even more special. We look forward to helping you find the perfect military clock for your home when you order from Chelsea Clock.