Try as I might, I can’t bring myself to be happy with a word clock which potentially reads “it is just gone five minutes past six”.

The sentence should read “it has just gone five minutes past six”. But at the same time, we also need to be able to say “it is nearly quarter to seven”, for example. A possible work-around (though still slightly clumsy) is “it’s…..” which could then be read as it is or it has depending on what follows. But that’s still a bit nasty.

The problem is, wherever there’s a possibility that one word could be immediately followed (light up) by another, we’ve had to leave a space (notice how there’s a space between “it” and “is” on the earlier example, and between “minutes” and “past” – but not between “half” and “minutes”). Well, if we allow for both “it is” and “it has” there simply aren’t enough squares left to spell out all the required times.

Unless we fudge it some other way:

We’ve had to spell out the word “ten” vertically rather than horizontally. It’s a bit of a kludge and I’m still not 100% happy with it. But a bit happier than the nails-on-a-blackboard-sounding “it is just gone….x o’clock”.

With this in mind, here’s how we’re going to write the time, at each of 0-59 minutes past each hour: