This puzzle is part of the Monthly Topic Challenge #6: Is it really that [time] again?.

Last weekend I caught up with a friend I hadn't seen in a while. I went round his house on the Friday night with a big bottle of whiskey and the two of us put the world to rights, chatting deep into the early hours of Saturday morning.

After much chat and joking about - and much, much whiskey - I eventually fell asleep on the sofa, waking up some unknown time later feeling very rough indeed. My mouth was painfully dry, my head was pounding, and I had absolutely no idea what time it was.

I had foolishly left my phone at home and don't wear a watch, so I gazed up at the clock on the wall instead, only to find it completely obscured by bright, colourful stickers of animals, fruit, mythical creatures... all sorts.

Had I been thinking straight I would have just turned on the TV and flicked to a news channel or something, but who can explain the thought processes of a man with a hangover...? Instead, I nudged my friend until he woke and asked what was up with the clock and the stickers.

"It's my daughter," he grunted. "She just loves clocks and all things similar. She's been playing with them all - moving them around, changing the times on them, covering them in stickers... Only one of them now tells the correct time currently."

I asked which one, and my friend replied:

"The one with a dragon, a ghost, a fairy, and a gnome on."

Then he fell back to sleep with a wry look on his face. In no condition to question, I then spent far too long traipsing around the house, checking all of the various timepieces I could find. Here are some photos of them all:

Timepieces covered with stickers

Try as I might I cannot work out which one my friend was referring to - which one is correct, and what time was it when I took its photograph?

TASK: What time is it? (You will need to identify which timepiece shows the correct time...)

Image credits: All free clipart available at Illustoon, Clipartix, Clipart Library, PNGitem, and Free Clipart.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Looking at all those clocks and trying to find things feels a lot like playing Dobble... $\endgroup$
    – fljx
    Jan 17, 2023 at 11:15
  • $\begingroup$ @fljx Dobble was actually partly my inspiration for this puzzle :) However, I have not at all employed the maths behind it - just the visuals... $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jan 17, 2023 at 11:27

1 Answer 1


The time is ...

... one o'clock p.m. The correct timepiece is the sundial in the centre bottom.

It has a dragon, a ghost and a fairy sticker on it. But there's no gnome sticker, so how can this be the correct clock?

The description ...

... was spoken, and you misheard. Your friend said: "The one with the gnomon". The gnomon is the part of a sundial that casts the shadow.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You know, I was wondering how a little girl would be able to rot13(punatr gur gvzr ba n fhaqvny). $\endgroup$
    – No Name
    Jan 18, 2023 at 11:38
  • $\begingroup$ @NoName: She just needs to rot13(ebgngr gur onfr bs gur fhaqvny) $\endgroup$
    – psmears
    Jan 19, 2023 at 10:23

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