Clocks represent the ordered universe, meticulously governed by laws of physics. When Jon Osterman goes to Mars, he looks at the marvelously ordered universe and wonders if that means that someone designed it. He reinforces this question by creating his own clockwork castle out of Mars’s sand. However, after reflecting on the horrors of human life, Jon decides that there can be no God, no designer. The universe is simply a “clock without a craftsman,” suggesting that though it is meticulously ordered and governed by natural laws, there is no designer behind it. In a similar though slightly different fashion, when Jon helps Laurie realize that Edward Blake, the man she hates most in the world, is her father, Jon’s clockwork castle shatters, symbolizing the way that Laurie’s universe suddenly feels devoid of any order or meaning.
The Watchmen quotes below all refer to the symbol of Clocks. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the DC Comics edition of Watchmen published in 1986.).
Chapter 4: Watchmaker Quotes
The timeline below shows where the symbol Clocks appears in Watchmen. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4: Watchmaker
Chapter 9: The Darkness of Mere Being