Big Ben digital
An impression of what Big Ben could look like when it goes digital Getty

The clock on London' iconic Big Ben is set to become digital clock with the hands replaced with LED numerals and the famous "bongs" at the top of the hour replicated with a state-of-the-art synthesizer, according to sources .

The controversial change will remove centuries of history as London tourism officials seek to inject new life into the ailing tourism industry after the 2008 recession. It will also raise funds by opening the clock to sponsorship by the highest bidder.

The famous chime of the Great Bell is set to be replaced with a new "beep" sound, similar to that of an iPhone or an alarm clock.

"After the Olympics, London officials just really wanted to revitalise the city with a big gesture. Turning Big Ben digital ticks all the boxes," Abu az-Azamaan Snr, 60, the man who came up with the idea, told IBTimes UK.

Azamaan has also been commissioned to build a giant sundial on the world's tallest building, the Burj al-Khalifia in Dubai.

London mayor Boris Johnson has refused to comment on the clock change but Twitter has been abuzz with rumours of who is set to sponsor and create the clock.

Rolex, which sponsors Wimbledon's scoreboards, is the frontrunner while Swiss manufacturers Breitling, TAG Heuer and Longines have all been mentioned in the running for what would be a primetime sponsorship position at the heart of one of the greatest cities in the world.

The move into the digital era is one of many that the landmark has been undergoing in recent years after being renamed in 2012 as the Elizabeth Tower for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.

Big Ben, the definitive London landmark, was built in 1858. It holds the largest four-faced chiming clock and is the third-tallest free-standing clock tower in the world.