50 Amazing Hourglass Tattoos and Meanings

Perfect for passing the time.

Hourglass Tattoo Designs | TattooBlend

If you’ve ever spent time watching the sand pass through an hourglass then you know just how hypnotizing it can be. As one of the first timers ever invented, the hourglass has long outlived its usefulness. But that doesn’t mean they are any less fascinating. The only hourglass you’ve ever handled was probably made of plastic and came in a board game, but once upon a time, they were as common as a watch or iPhone.

When it comes to tattoos, timepieces are always popular design choices. While we tend to see a lot more pocket watches, there’s definitely no shortage of hourglass tattoos floating around out there, and for good reason. In this article we’ll take a look at some of the best and most well-executed examples of hourglass tattoos in existence. We hope you enjoy this article, and don’t forget to share and save your favorites!

This gorgeous feminine design.

Feminine hourglass tattoo by Hello Tattoo

(Photo: Hello Tattoo)

This stunning sketch style hourglass tattoo.

Sketch style hourglass tattoo by Inez Janiak

(Photo: Inez Janiak)

Hourglasses are sometimes referred to as the sand timers, sand watches, sandglasses, or sand clocks. I know, creative huh? While the exact origin of the hourglass isn’t definitively known, scholars believe it most likely originated somewhere in India or perhaps ancient Alexandria. The hourglass was predated by the waterglass, basically the same concept as the hourglass but with water instead of sand. The oldest known reference to the hourglass was a painting on the top of an ancient sarcophagus discovered in the 18th century in Rome.

This ornamental hourglass tattoo.

Ornamental hourglass tattoo by Sami Locke

(Photo: Sami Locke)

Dotwork sand.

Dotwork hourglass tattoo by Tiago Oliveira

(Photo: Tiago Oliveira)

This cute hourglass tattoo with hanging stars.

Cute hourglass tattoo by Mini Lau

(Photo: Mini Lau)

This cosmic watercolor design.

Watercolor hourglass tattoo by Sasha Unisex

(Photo: Sasha Unisex)

Is that really sand inside?

The short answer is yes. Many hourglasses did use sand and still do to this day. However, many experiments were conducted to find a medium that offered the most consistent flow, especially during the time that hourglasses were relied upon for scientific and day-to-day tasks. Aside from sand, the hourglass was filled with crushed marble, tin and lead oxides, and even crushed eggshells. Experts soon found out that in order to achieve the most ideal and consistent flow, a ratio of granular bead to neck width should be 1/12 but not greater than 1/2 the width of the neck of the bulb.

And another.

Watercolor hourglass tattoo by Will Muller

(Photo: Will Muller)

This sketch style design.

Sketch style hourglass tattoo by Luca Testadiferro

(Photo: Luca Testadiferro)

This subtle hourglass tattoo.

Subtle hourglass tattoo by Hello Tattoo

(Photo: Hello Tattoo)

This romantic design.

Romantic hourglass tattoo by Anna Yershova

(Photo: Anna Yershova)

This geometric hourglass tattoo.

Geometric hourglass tattoo by Kristi Walls

(Photo: Kristi Walls)

In use today.

Today the hourglass is used mainly for traditional and novelty purposes. Many board games, such as Boggle and Pictionary, include an hourglass to time turns. In a more official capacity, the Australian government keeps a few hourglasses to time procedural hearings. You can also find hourglasses in many home goods stores sold as egg timers.

This watercolor back shoulder piece.

Watercolor hourglass tattoo by Ben-Hur Leite

(Photo: Ben-Hur Leite)

This landscape design.

Landscape hourglass tattoo by Eva Krbdk

(Photo: Eva Krbdk)

This tiny hourglass tattoo on back.

Tiny hourglass tattoo on back by Boomy

(Photo: Boomy)

This large halftone abstract design.

Abstract hourglass tattoo by David Giersch

(Photo: David Giersch)

This soft dotwork design.

Dotwork hourglass tattoo by Karry Ka-Ying Poon

(Photo: Karry Ka-Ying Poon)

This tiny wrist tat.

Small hourglass tattoo by Jon Boy

(Photo: Jon Boy)

This beautiful floral design.

Floral hourglass tattoo by Karl Marks

(Photo: Karl Marks)

This cool forearm piece.

Hourglass tattoo by Julian Magossi

(Photo: Julian Magossi)

This neo traditional hourglass tattoo.

Neo traditional hourglass tattoo by Zach Roman

(Photo: Zach Roman)

This colorful dotwork design.

Colorful dotwork hourglass tattoo by Mariya Summer

(Photo: Mariya Summer)

Ancient uses.

At one point in time, the hourglass was considered cutting edge technology. From churches to homes, hourglasses were a common sight for anyone who could afford one. But no where were hourglassess as important as on the sea. Mariners used them to calculate longitude and latitude and were by far the most reliable way to measure time at sea.

The popularity of the hourglass started to decline during the 15th century. Thanks in most part to technological advances in mechanical clocks which allowed them to be made smaller, more people were ditching their hourglasses for clocks.

This awesome watercolor style.

Watercolor hourglass tattoo by Felipe Rodrigues Fe Rod

(Photo: Felipe Rodrigues Fe Rod)

This wave.

Hourglass wave tattoo by Luiza Oliveira

(Photo: Luiza Oliveira)

This large chest piece.

Hourglass chest piece by Fraser Peek

(Photo: Fraser Peek)

This creative design.

Creative hourglass tattoo by Nazar Butkovski

(Photo: Nazar Butkovski)

This delightful design.

Adorable hourglass tattoo design by Tattooist IDA

(Photo: IDA)

This masterpiece.

Complex hourglass tattoo by Jessica Svartvit

(Photo: Jessica Svartvit)

This wonderful watercolor design.

Watercolor hourglass tattoo by Koray Karagozler

(Photo: Koray Karagozler)

This breathtaking dotwork design.

The best hourglass tattoo ever by Lawrence Edwards

(Photo: Lawrence Edwards)

Geometric and watercolor.

Geometric watercolor hourglass tattoo by Aline Wata

(Photo: Aline Wata)

This surreal thigh piece.

Surreal hourglass tattoo by Tyler Malek

(Photo: Tyler Malek)

This blackwork hourglass.

Blackwork hourglass tattoo by Lucas Martinelli

(Photo: Lucas Martinelli)

These matching hand tats.

Hourglass hand tattoos by Matty Darienzo

(Photo: Matty Darienzo)

Hourglass symbology.

Throughout history, the hourglass has come to represent the passage of time. The difference between the past and the future. In centuries past, many cultures placed an hourglass symbol on coffins and gravestones to represent the sands of time.

In more recent times, most people probably remember the hourglass for its omnious role in modern-day computing. Remember when your pointer use to turn into an hourglass to tell you to wait patiently while your computer loads? While that feature is no longer used, it’s pretty safe to say that the hourglass will forever be remembered as a downer to more recent generations.

This ship.

Nautical hourglass tattoo by Yury Polyakov

(Photo: Yury Polyakov)

This wacky sketched hourglass.

Sketched hourglass tattoo by Luca Testadiferro

(Photo: Luca Testadiferro)


Hourglass tattoo by David Peyote

(Photo: David Cote)

This elegant back shoulder tat.

Hourglass on back shoulder by Matt Laster

(Photo: Matt Laster)

This shattered watercolor hourglass.

Shattered watercolor hourglass tattoo by Felipe Rodrigues Fe Rod

(Photo: Felipe Rodrigues Fe Rod)

This cool wrist tat.

Hourglass tattoo on wrist by Balazs Bercsenyi

(Photo: Balazs Bercsenyi)

These pyramids.

Hourglass tattoo by Jane Medusa

(Photo: Jane Medusa)

This naturalistic hourglass tattoo.

Naturalistic hourglass tattoo by David Boggins

(Photo: David Boggins)

This black and grey ink hourglass.

Black and grey ink hourglass tattoo by Ivy Saruzi

(Photo: Ivy Saruzi)

This pixellated piece.

pixellated hourglass tattoo by Martynas Snioka

(Photo: Martynas Snioka)

This pretty hourglass design.

Beautiful hourglass tattoo design by Michelle Maddison

(Photo: Michelle Maddison)

This gold hourglass tattoo.

Gold hourglass tattoo by Koray Karagozler

(Photo: Koray Karagozler)

This worldly hourglass.

Worldly hourglass tattoo by Okan Uckun

(Photo: Okan Uckun)

This elegant dotwork hourglass.

Elegant dotwork hourglass tattoo by Marla Moon

(Photo: Marla Moon)

This London hourglass tattoo.

London hourglass tattoo by David Cote

(Photo: David Cote)

This mini hourglass tattoo.

Mini hourglass tattoo by Phoebe Hunter

(Photo: Phoebe Hunter)

This bicep tat.

Hourglass tattoo on bicep by V R. Rivera

(Photo: V R. Rivera)


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