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What Is the Best Alarm Clock?

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

The Goal: Find the best alarm clock. Sleep doctors and sound experts turned us away from alarms with loud, abrasive buzzes and beeps (helpful for heavy sleepers but stressful for everyone else) and steered us toward crescendoing rings that gently rouse you awake.

The Verdict: Newfangled alarm clocks may use REM-tracking sleep monitors and sunrise-mimicking lights, but the best wake-up technology was actually perfected 30 years ago. Braun’s BNC012 alarm clock is a new take on a classic created in 1987 by industrial designers Dietrich Lubs and Dieter Rams. The ring starts soft and slow, but speeds up and gets louder the longer it goes untouched, making it impossible to ignore, while the bias-cut shape allows for easier visibility of the clock’s face. Operating the clock is simple: It has just one button, on top, to turn the alarm on and off. And if you tilt it down, a hidden, four-minute snooze button is activated, as well as a dull five-second night-light that’ll allow you to check the time at, say, 4 a.m. — a gentle alternative to encountering the harsh light of your phone’s screen.

*This article appears in the September 4, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.

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What Is the Best Alarm Clock?