In Europe and United Kingdom, it was a stand-alone single, released in November 1982. For this market, its first inclusion on a Culture Club album was on their 1987 compilation, called This Time: The First Four Years.
In a retrospective review of the song, Allmusic journalist Stewart Mason wrote: "Of all of Culture Club's early hits, Time (Clock of the Heart) has probably aged the best. Boy George drops the cryptic self-mythology long enough to deliver a tender, heartfelt lyric on lost love."
The music video has been released in two versions. The only difference was a scene where the group is watching TV, along with vocalist Helen Terry. In one version, a Christmas tree is shown. In the other, the tree is removed. This was because of the date of release for certain markets. The "Christmas" version (which is on the 2005 DVD "Greatest Hits"), was for European countries and the "regular version" was for the other markets, where the song was released in spring 1983.
The US single was released with the B-side being an instrumental version of the song called "Romance Beyond the Alphabet", which not only removed the vocals but at least one layer of melody as well.