Watchismo Times | category: clockwork


Watchismo Times

THE WATCHISMO TIMES WATCH BLOG A reliquary of obscure timepieces from bygone eras as well as the cutting-edge watch designs of today.

BONNNGG! Big Ben's 150th Anniversary - Alex Doak Goes Inside for The Watchismo Times

BONNNGG!  Big Ben's 150th Anniversary - Alex Doak Goes Inside for The Watchismo TimesThe Watchismo Times contributor Alex Doak scales Big Ben for a right royal ear bashing

BONNNGG!  Big Ben's 150th Anniversary - Alex Doak Goes Inside for The Watchismo Times

“Truly impressed – and I’m a watch geek, so that’s saying something”

In retrospect, that was probably rather a sarcastic thing to write in the Palace of Westminster’s visitor book, but I was genuinely bowled over by my experience last Sunday, despite the early hour and my late night before. From scaling all 334 steps of the Great Clock Tower and watching Dent’s mighty movement whirring away with its governor fans click-clacking overhead; to peering out of those world-famous clock faces across a sprawling, sunkissed London town, before standing mere inches from Big Ben and its four melodic counterparts as they bonged-out 10 o’clock – this was tantamount to the Hajj for this watch anorak. Desperate to immerse ourselves fully in the Big Ben experience, my mate Pete and I even spurned the offer of ear plugs, bearing the full force of that 13.7-tonne bronze bell at point-blank range (audible for four and a half miles) and bathing in the deep, subsonic resonance of the iron infrastructure for minutes after the tenth bong had faded. Not even the strains of YMCA, pounding out from the finish line of a 10km fun run on Westminster Bridge below could detract from this most reverent of horological experiences.

Although any UK resident can write to his or her MP and request a guided tour of Big Ben (smug pedants be gone, by the way – it’s now officially acceptable to refer to the whole clock by the big bell’s popular nickname) mine was actually one of several being held this summer in celebration of Big Ben’s 150th anniversary. In an age when the most obscure of milestones are hyped beyond comprehension (40 years since the Moon landing? Why 40?) it’s amazing so little has been made of Big Ben’s one and a half centuries – especially when you consider what an icon this clock actually is. No clichéd Hollywood establishing montage of London would be complete without a policeman / vicar / Hugh Grant cycling past the Clock Tower; Radio 4’s hourly news broadcasts would surely lack all gravitas without its opening salvo of bongs; London’s skyline would merely be anodyne without SW1’s tower (paired with EC1’s St Paul’s dome of course).

Once through the airport-style security gates and duly reminded with an air of forboding that this tour was not for the physically infirm or claustrophobic, we commenced our ascent of the Tower – a phallic masterpiece positively bulging with history.

BONNNGG!  Big Ben's 150th Anniversary - Alex Doak Goes Inside for The Watchismo Times

The view from the bottom of the 334 steps. Deep breath…

BONNNGG!  Big Ben's 150th Anniversary - Alex Doak Goes Inside for The Watchismo Times

The view from the top. Well worth the slog

Denison and Dent’s Clock

It all began with a terrible fire, which destroyed most of the Palace of Westminster in 1834. Out of the 97 designs submitted for the new Palace, master Gothic architect Sir Charles Barry’s was successful and construction of the Clock Tower began in September 1843. Barry was no clockmaker though, and he sought advice from the Queen’s Clockmaker and good buddy, Benjamin Lewis Vuillamy.

Other respected clockmakers, such as the marine chronometer pioneer Edward John Dent, wanted the chance to be involved though, and disputes quickly broke out (this was to set the tone for the entire project – by completion, the chief contractors for the Tower had been reduced to corresponding via letters in The Times). In 1846 therefore, a competition was held to decide who should build the clock. Astronomer Royal, Sir George Airy – who had awarded Dent’s first commission in 1814 to build the Admiralty’s Standard Astronomical Clock – was appointed referee and set out unprecedented standards for the clock to meet.

These included:

· the first stroke of each hour to be accurate to within one second

· the clock’s performance to be telegraphed twice a day to Greenwich Observatory

Airy’s demanding standards led to delays that lasted seven years. Most master clockmakers of the day complained that such a level of accuracy was impossible for a clock of its size – at 4.2m and 2.7m, and 100kg and 300kg, the minute and hour hands are particularly susceptible to the elements, acting as windmills on all four clock faces, feeding unwanted energy from the rain and wind back into the delicate movement. The best that could be hoped for, they said, was three minutes a day.

Airy appointed Edmund Beckett Denison – barrister, MP and gifted amateur horologist –to design the clock, then in February 1852, Dent was appointed to build the clock to Denison’s own design, mostly because his quote of £1,800 was half that of Vulliamy’s, but also because Dent had made an impression the year before with a turret clock on display at London’s Great International Exhibition. It won the Council Medal for Horology and after the Exhibition it was erected at King’s Cross Station, where it remains (and where the revived Dent watch brand received its latest public clock commission, for the Eurostar terminal).

Dent died in 1853 and his stepson, Frederick, completed the clock in 1854 for a final bill of £2,500. Working along similar lines to a grandfather clock, it is regulated by a 2-second, 4.4m pendulum and powered by three stone weights totalling 2.5 tonnes, which are wound up on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

BONNNGG!  Big Ben's 150th Anniversary - Alex Doak Goes Inside for The Watchismo Times

If you watch Dent’s Big Ben clock movement long enough, you’ll eventually figure out how it all works, so logically is everything laid out. Watchismo Times regulars probably won’t resist comparing its lateral array with Ruchonnet’s Cabestan

BONNNGG!  Big Ben's 150th Anniversary - Alex Doak Goes Inside for The Watchismo Times

The “governor” fans above the movement use air resistance to regulate the rate with which the chiming mechanism unwinds

Crucially, Dent’s clock is accurate to within one second per day – just as Airy wanted ­– and as such Big Ben remains the largest and most accurate striking mechanical clock in the world.

BONNNGG!  Big Ben's 150th Anniversary - Alex Doak Goes Inside for The Watchismo Times

Pre-decimal-currency pennies are still used by the Palace of Westminster’s three appointed clockmakers to regulate the clock mechanism: adding one penny causes the clock to gain two-fifths of a second in 24 hours.

The achievement of such accuracy was partly thanks to the British government’s perennial inability to get anything done on time (or budget). The Clock Tower’s construction was delayed for 5 years, and until its installation in 1859, Dent’s 5-tonne behemoth of a mechanism was kept at his factory on the Strand. In the meantime, Denison tinkered, most notably inventing the 'Double Three-legged Gravity Escapement' in the process (later known as the Grimthorpe Escapement when Denison was made Baron Grimthorpe in 1886). Since used in turret clocks all over the world, this revolutionary mechanism is key to Big Ben’s world-beating accuracy, ensuring the swing of the pendulum is unaffected by the weather’s influence on the hands. In an agonizingly simple but revolutionary manner, Denison’s gravity escapement isolates the pendulum from the going train. The energy from the going train alternately lifts two rocking gravity arms, which, when falling, give constant and independent impulses to the pendulum.

This Flash animation showing the inner workings of Big Ben, is brilliant -->
Click here

BONNNGG!  Big Ben's 150th Anniversary - Alex Doak Goes Inside for The Watchismo TimesNo photography allowed up the Tower – but I managed to sneak in a clandestine snap (above) with my mobile in the space between the clock room and the clock faces. Each face is 7m in diameter and has 312 separate pieces of pot-opal glass panels framed by gun metal. Illumination of each dial is performed in a delightfully rudimentary manner by a bank of 28 oversized energy-efficient bulbs at 85W each. Lifetime of each bulb is 60,000 hours

BONNNGG!  Big Ben's 150th Anniversary - Alex Doak Goes Inside for The Watchismo Times

The Bells! The Bells!

Denison also became involved in the design of the bells for the clock, in particular Big Ben. Until the Westminster clock tower, the largest bell ever cast in Britain was Great Peter in York Minster, weighing 10.3 tons. (Now, Big Ben is only superseded in Britain by Great Paul at St Paul’s Cathedral down the road.)

But Denison was adamant that his own design, method and alloy recipe would allow a larger bell to be created. Eventually, a 16-ton monster was cast at the Warner & Sons foundry in Stockton-on-Tees in August 1856. Too wide to be transported by rail, it arrived at the Port of London by sea, from where it was pulled across Westminster Bridge by 16 white horses.

The bell was hung in New Palace Yard. It was tested each day until 17 October 1857 when a 1.2m crack appeared. No-one would accept the blame. Theories included the composition of the bell’s metal or its dimensions. Warners blamed Denison for insisting on increasing the hammer’s weight from 355kg to 660kg.

Warners asked too high a price to break up and recast the bell so George Mears at the Whitechapel Foundry was appointed. The second bell was cast on 10 April 1858.

This bell was 2.5 tonnes lighter than the first. Its dimensions meant it was too large to fit up the Clock Tower’s shaft vertically so Big Ben was turned on its side and winched up. It took 30 hours to winch the bell to the belfry in October 1858. The four quarter bells, which chime on the quarter hour, were already in place.

BONNNGG!  Big Ben's 150th Anniversary - Alex Doak Goes Inside for The Watchismo Times

Big Ben rang out on 11 July 1859 but its success was short-lived. In September 1859, the new bell also cracked and Big Ben was silent for four years. During this time, the hour was struck on the fourth quarter bell. The dispute went public and resulted in two libel cases against Denison, who was found to have befriended one of the technicians at the foundry, got him drunk and bullied him into giving false testimony that the fault had been due to poor workmanship and concealed filler. The cantankerous lawyer lost both cases and a close examination of Big Ben in 2002 found that there was no filler in the bell. As one contemporary of Denison put it: "Zealous but unpopular, self-accredited expert on clocks, locks, bells, buildings as well as many branches of law, Denison was one of those people who are almost impossible as colleagues, being perfectly convinced that they know more than anybody about everything - as unhappily they do."

In 1863, a solution was found to Big Ben’s silence by Sir George Airy, the Astronomer Royal:

· Big Ben was turned by a quarter turn so the hammer struck a different spot

· the hammer was replaced by a lighter version

· a small square was cut into the bell to prevent the crack from spreading

The total cost of making the clock and bells and installing them in the Clock Tower reached £22,000.

BONNNGG!  Big Ben's 150th Anniversary - Alex Doak Goes Inside for The Watchismo TimesThere are four quarter bells each weighing between 1 and 4 tonnes

The famous “Westminster chimes” – emulated on a smaller scale by Grande Sonnerie wristwatches – are struck by four quarter bells positioned around Big Ben tuned to G, F, E and B. Their tune is based on Handel’s Messiah, a phrase from the aria I Know that My Redeemer Liveth. They were set to verse and the words are inscribed on a plaque in Big Ben’s clock room:

All through this hour

Lord be my Guide

That by Thy Power

No foot shall slide

Why “Big Ben”?

Officially, the Clock Tower’s bell is called the Great Bell though it is better known by the name 'Big Ben'.

There are two theories for this name’s origin. These are that the Great Bell was:

· named after Sir Benjamin Hall, First Commissioner for Works 1855-1858, whose name is inscribed on the bell

· named after Ben Caunt, a champion heavyweight boxer of the 1850s

The first theory is thought to be the most likely.

BONNNGG!  Big Ben's 150th Anniversary - Alex Doak Goes Inside for The Watchismo TimesStop – Hammer Time!

Stoppages are rare, but the most notable are:

2007: the longest suspension of the hour strike (Big Ben) since 1990. Big Ben's famous 'bongs' were silent for seven weeks in 2007, allowing essential maintenance work on the clock mechanism to take place. From 11 August to 1 October, an electric system kept the clock moving, but Big Ben, the name for the Great Bell, and the quarter bells were quiet. This was the final phase of a programme of planned works to prepare for the Great Clock's 150th anniversary in 2009.

October 2005: The clock mechanism was also suspended for two days in to allow inspection of the brake shaft.

Over the years, the clock has been stopped accidentally on several occasions - by weather, workmen, breakages or birds. The most serious breakdown occurred during the night of 10 August 1976 when part of the chiming mechanism disintegrated through metal fatigue, causing the mechanism to literally explode under its own immense forces, dropping its weights to the base of the Tower with a noise that the policeman on duty initially reported as being an IRA bomb. The Great Clock was shut down for a total of 26 days over nine months - the longest break in operations since it was built - until it was fully repaired.

The Secret’s Out

But despite Big Ben’s remarkable, unflagging accuracy, one burning question remains: how is it checked? Mike McCann, who rejoices in the title of Keeper of the Great Clock, gives a slightly embarrassed laugh when he is asked. The answer is that he does what everyone else does: he rings up the speaking clock. He does so from the phone in the clock room at five to the hour precisely, starting a stopwatch on the third pip, and then goes up the belfry to see when the hammer on Big Ben strikes the hour. Simple, if not technologically sophisticated.

See also on Watchismo: Alex Doak’s report on modern Dent’s most recent public clock commission


Related "Alex Doak" Posts at The Watchismo Times;
UnBNBelievable - Confrérie Horlogère
Sarpaneva's Black Moon Rising
Plenty of Scratches but only one Dent

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Time in Six Parts - Che-Wei Wang's 3.16 Billion Cycles, In a Lifetime, Cinematic Timepiece, One Hour Sprocket, Thermal Clock and Counting to a Billion

Time in Six Parts

Time in Six Parts is a series of attempts to unravel and re-present time through alternative perspectives. The hope is to demystify scales of time that are out of our immediate reach and explore new approaches to marking time.

Six timekeeping devices were built as part of Che-Wei Wang's thesis project at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at TISCH, NYU.

3.16 Billion Cycles video

3.16 Billion Cycles is a clock that unravels a century through a series of pulleys.


Can we watch decay? Can we see glass as a fluid slowly slumping and deforming over time?

Everything is in constant flux, yet we consider many things around us static and fixed. 3.16 Billion Cycles is an attempt to unravel a seemingly unchanging 100 years into a set of relationships in digestible increments.

A 60 rpm (revolutions per minute) motor drives the entire mechanism. It rotates once every second. The following pulley rotates once every 5 seconds (1:5 ratio). The next rotates once every 60 seconds or 1 minute. Then 5 minutes, 1 hour, 1 day, 1 month, 1 year, and 1 decade. The decade wheel carries the load of the large arc. The large arc rotates once every century. The final ratio between the 60 rpm motor and the large arc is approximately 1:31.6 billion.

Each wheel is marked with a black nut to highlight a position that could be tracked over time. Along the arc, 100 lines mark the divisions of each passing year. When the clock finally reaches the end of a 100 year cycle, the arc falls off its track onto the floor.


How accurate does a clock need to be? Most household clocks display time with 3 mechanical movements; the hour, on a 12 hour cycle; minutes past the hour; and seconds past the minute. How crucial is it for us to know how many seconds are past the minute? Do we need to know the exact number of minutes past the hour?

One Hour Sprocket is a wall-mounted 12 hour clock with a 60 tooth sprocket attached to a motor, completing one revolution every hour. From the sprocket hangs a chain that consists of 720 links. Each link accounts for every minute of a 12 hour cycle. Among the black chain links is one polished stainless steel link to identify the position of the hour past 12 o’clock. To tell time one can estimate the position of the “hour hand” or count the number of links from the polished link to the top of the clock for a more accurate reading.

Between two 1/4” steel plates, sits a stepper motor, which ticks every 18 seconds. The hanging chain juggles with each tick reassuring the clock’s functionality.

Sprocket Clock

Thermal Clock video


We rely heavily on our vision to identify change. We see sand accumulating at the bottom of the hourglass. We see the minute hand rotate clockwise. How would our sense of time change if we cast time to another sense?

Thermal Clock is a timepiece that positions heat along a bar over a 24 hour cycle to tell time.

Using an array of peltier junctions, heat is emitted from a focused area moving from left to right along the bar over the course of a day.

Thermal Clock

Counting to a Billion video


As a child, I remember challenging myself to count to 1000, 1 million, or 1 billion. I don’t think I ever made it.
Why do we aimlessly count? How long would it take to count to a billion?

Counting to a Billion is a device created to fulfill the desire to count. The electronics consists of a microcontroller, a speech module, and a speaker powered by a rechargeable battery. There is no/off switch. The voice begins counting at one, two, three and continues counting up until it reaches one billion at which point in time it will stop.

Counting to a Billion Clock

If it took a second to utter each string of numbers, it would take 1 billion seconds or 31.7 years for the device to reach its end. But since it takes more than a second to vocalize many of the numbers in the sequence, it may take upwards of 60 years to complete.

The unit is housed in a solid block of aluminum, cnc milled into a vessel that was designed to withstand substantial abuse over many years.

Cinematic Timepiece video


Time is our measure of a constant beat. We use seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, etc. But what if we measured time against rituals, chores, tasks, stories, and narratives? How can we use our memory, prediction, familiar and unfamiliar narratives to tell time?

As a child, I remember using the length of songs as a way to measure how much time was left during a trip. A song was an appropriate period to easily multiply to get a grasp of any larger measure like the time left until we arrived to our grandmother’s place. The length of a song was also a measure I could digest and understand in an instant.

The first iteration of Cinematic Timepiece consists of 5 video loops playing at 5 different speeds on a single screen. The video is of a person coloring in a large circle on a wall.

The frame furthest to the right is a video loop that completes a cycle in one minute. The video to the left of the minute loop completes its cycle in one hour. The next completes in a day, then a month, then a year.

Through various iterations, we intend to experiment with various narratives and rituals captured in a video loop to be read as measures of time.

The software was written in OpenFrameworks for a single screen to be expanded in the future for multiple screens as a piece of hardware.


click image to view "In A Lifetime"

We often compare ourselves to friends, colleagues, relatives, idols, etc. on a scale of time that’s beyond our comprehension. Full of hope and objectives that are far into the future, we strive to achieve as much as our parents, friends, and heroes.
What do you plan to achieve in the next 5 years? 10 years? 20? How long will you live?

Though there are many unknowns, we share one lifetime as a common measure.

In a Lifetime is a website that visualizes individual achievements and milestones along the scale of one lifetime. Each point along the arc represents a milestone where the top (12th hour) is their moment of birth, the right quadrant (3rd hour) is a quarter through their life, the bottom (6th hour) is half way through their life, and so on. The mapping strips age as a parameter from individuals and scales lifespans to compare achievements of one life with another.

The website collects information about each individual through a publicly accessible interface. Input parameters are, author, date of birth, lifespan, milestone or note, and significance (0-100). Anyone who visits the site can enter information about an individual to be mapped. If one so desires, you can enter your predicted lifespan to compare personal milestones to others.

Some patterns emerge. Significant achievements are made between the half way point and the 3/4 point of their lives. Beyond the 3/4 point, nearly all individuals stop accruing achievements .
Around the half way point in their individual lives, Albert Einstein wrote the General Theory of Relativity, Constantin Brancusi completed the Kiss, Le Corbusier completed Villa Savoye, Leonardo Da Vinci drew the proportions of human figure after Vitruvious.

Visit Che-Wei Wang's website

Related Posts on The Watchismo Times;
All Alternative Display Features

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CLOCK WISE - Ulysse Nardin Planet Earth Desk Clock

CLOCK WISE - Ulysse Nardin Planet Earth Desk ClockLimited Edition of 99 Pieces

Ulysse Nardin introduces a desk clock with a spherical presentation of Earth in the Universe as conceived by Dr. Ludwig Oechslin.

It shows at all times the exact position of Sun, Moon and fixed stars in relation to any location on Planet Earth.

A transparent spherical crystal globe outlining the continents and oceans represents Earth. This outer spherical globe does not move. The inner sphere representing a model of the Universe as seen from Earth, rotates at the speed of the sidereal day in 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds. The inner sphere displays the signs of zodiac, months and major fixed stars. Animated from the center a large Sun hand rotates once in 24 hours indicating which part of the Earth is illuminated by the Sun.

The Moon hand rotates once in 24 hours, 52 minutes and 42 seconds and indicates in which part of Planet Earth the Moon is visible.

CLOCK WISE - Ulysse Nardin Planet Earth Desk ClockA blue Dragon hand rotates in 18,613 years one time faster than the inner glass sphere with the fixed stars and sign of zodiac display. In conjunction with the Sun and the Moon hand the Dragon hand displays all eclipses of Sun and Moon.

The Planet Earth’s key-wind mechanism has a power reserve of 30 days. Should the clock need to be re-wound from stop, a year indicator with a push button (located at the bottom of the inner sphere) facilitates easy resetting of the astronomical indications.

A clock on the front panel of the mahogany case indicates hours and minutes.

Planet Earth is an extraordinary time machine and represents another in-house development, conceived and produced in the Manufacture Ulysse Nardin.

via Timezone

Related Stories;
All Clock Posts at The Watchismo Times
Hatching Egg Vacheron Constantin Astronomical Clock
All Astronomic Watch & Clock Posts
Richard Mille Planetarium Telurium

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CLOCK WISE - Matthias Naeschke NT2 Erwin Sattler Tempus Mobile Clocks

CLOCK WISE - Matthias Naeschke NT2 Erwin Sattler Tempus Mobile Clocks
The marine timepiece, "Tempus Mobile" created by Erwin Sattler of Munich Germany will be introduced this week at Baselworld.

Indication of hours, minutes, seconds, remaining power, second time zone, separate 24 hour dial with world time indication.

Suspended on Gimballs, with indication of the ships inclination on degrees.

Structure in steel and base on granite.

Erwin Sattler website

CLOCK WISE - Matthias Naeschke NT2 Erwin Sattler Tempus Mobile Clocks

The design philosophy for the Matthias Naeschke NT 2 BUSINESS-CLOCK was to create a timepiece that will provide for business people (for the private individual) to comprehend different time-zones around the world.

For this purpose Matthias & Sebastian Naeschke considered all the necessary functions that help facilitate international communications. The NT 2 BUSINESS-CLOCK unites a perpetual calendar, an indication of the calendar-week and world time-zones. Another special feature of the NT 2 is an alternative 24hr dial, mounted on the rear of the movement. The hour hand of this dial is mounted with an adjustment wheel with latch so it can be changed to indicate any time-zone directly.
The whole clock including its heavy base made of granite sits on a huge turntable. So it can be turned easily from one face to the other. The movement power reserve is 9 weeks. The movement is all gilded and highly polished as always at Naeschke.

1940 Puja Thermo-Pneumatic Clock

1940 Puja Thermo-Pneumatic Clock

1940 Puja Thermo-Pneumatic ClockSimple looking clock, right?

Now look inside and see the thermo-pneumatic tube movement!

1940 Puja Thermo-Pneumatic Clock

"At the lower left, shielded by a translucent housing, is a carbon rod resistance that heats the colored alcohol in the glass vessel just above it. This causes some of the alcohol to vaporize, the pressure pushing the liquid up the connecting pipe to the vessel at top right. As the latter gets heavier the wheel bearing the four vessels experiences a torque that rewinds a remontoire spring driving a conventional gear train and escapement. This clock has a pendulum-controlled escapement, but models with balance wheel escapements also existed."

The firm of Jauch and Schmid was registered in 1930.

1940 Puja Thermo-Pneumatic ClockThe back of a Puja clock from German firm of Jauch and Schmid.

1940 Puja Thermo-Pneumatic ClockOriginal advertisement for a 1940 Puja Clock


And thanks to Greg Blonder of Genuine Ideas and his similarly conceived thermoscopic solar motor inventions-->LINK

See also;
All Watchismo Times Clock Posts
All Escapement Posts
All Offbeat Posts

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Chronophage Corpus Clock with Grasshopper Escapement

The £1 million timepiece, known as The Corpus Clock, has been commissioned and designed to honor the John Harrison, who was famously the pioneer of Longitude and inventor of the esoteric clock mechanism known as a grasshopper escapement.

The clock has been designed by the inventor and horologist Dr John Taylor and makes ingenious use of the grasshopper escapement, moving it from the inside of the clock to the outside and refashioning it as a Chronophage, or time-eater, which literally devours time.

The Corpus Clock does not use hands or digital numbers. Instead it uses a series of 60 slits cut into the face, each six degrees apart, which light up to show the time. The seconds are counted down by each step of the mechanical insect who crawls around the disc edged like a lizard's spine. Its movement triggers blue flashing lights which dart across the clock-face, running in concentric circles to mark passing seconds before pausing at the correct hour and minute. (See video below)


The Corpus Clock has been invented and designed by Dr John Taylor for Corpus Christi College Cambridge for the exterior of the college's new library building.

It was unveiled on 19 September by Prof Stephen Hawking, cosmologist and author of the global bestseller, A Brief History of Time.

Article 1-->Link Article 2-->Link Article 3-->Link Article 4-->Link

See also;
All Watchismo Times Clock Posts
All Inventor Related Posts

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Ignatz Flying Pendulum Clocks of 1883 and 1965 - Powered by a Tetherball Escapement

Watch the video above to see the unusual way this watch powers itself (or this->link)

The original flying pendulum clock (shown above) was invented, and patented, by Christian Clausen of Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1883. Clausen described it as "the craziest clock in the world" due to the motion of the tetherball style escapement with a ball and string. It was originally sold by the New Haven Clock Company (under the Jerome & Co. name) for about a year (1884-1885). It is reported that these clocks were sold to Jewelry stores to display in their windows to attract the attention of passing shoppers.

It got the name "Ignatz" from Dr. Rowell (a noted clock collector) in 1935. Dr. Rowell felt this clock had the personality of Ignatz, the mouse in the old Krazy Kat comic strip. The name stuck as it is still called this today. The original New Haven Flying Pendulum clocks are quite rare. This reproduction was manufactured by the Horolovar Company between 1965 and 1975. The movement was made in Germany and was cased at Horolovar in Bronxville, NY.

Shots of the Horolvar reproductions of 1965-1975
(some of these can be found online for around $200-300)

The tetherball escapement

Videos of other flying pendulum clocks (above; an Italian reproduction - below; a homemade wood clock)

See also;
All Watchismo Times Clock Posts

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Blonder Slide Rule Wall Clock - Math Chic!

An interesting wall clock prototype inspired by a slide rule. Hours and minutes on separate rulers, meet at a central slider with retrograde motion for each cycle. Mockup shown constructed from foam core and powered by LEGO Mindstorms.

I previously featured inventor Greg Blonder and his seriously ambitious 1,000 year forest clock concept, the TiWalkMe (seen->here). The Watchismo Times is proud to be the first showcasing his latest timepiece project, the Slide Rule Wall Clock - on a much smaller scale than a entire forest but still very original.


LEGO Mindstorms mock-up motor

Slide Rule Clock renderings

Ripe for saw it here first. Plus, if it's produced, Greg has promised me one! Stainless version please...

Greg Blonder's Slide Rule Clock mock-up page-->Link Rendering page-->Link

[Each scale is 2"x18"]
[DC powered]
[Invisible wiring to wall plug]
[Press corners of runner to set time, Hours and Minutes, up and down]
[Red hairline bisecting slider]

graphic animation of the Slide Rule clock in motion

Blonder, inventor, physicist, entrepreneur, designer and former Bell Labs chief scientist has over 70 patents under his belt, many of which can be seen at Genuine Ideas and Talus Furniture. His page for the Slide Rule wall clock can be seen here.

See Also;
Protractor & Slide Rule Watches
The TiWalkMe Thousand Year Forest Clock
All Watchismo Times Clock Posts

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1933 Japanese Clockwork Car Runs 40 Miles a Winding

1933 Japanese Clockwork Car Runs 40 Miles a Winding
Taken from a 1933 issue of Modern Mechanix;

"Jap Clockspring Car Runs 40 mi a Winding

THE Japanese have never gained any notable degree of fame for their mechanical capabilities, but undoubtedly their reputations along this line will get vigorous boost by their invention of an automobile that runs by clockwork.

Very little mechanical data is available on the construction of the new car, but it is said to have British car dealers doing business in Japan somewhat worried. This would indicate that the machine is more than just a freak that originated in the mind of a visionary inventor.

Reports state that the car will run 40 miles at one winding. Further developments may see the invention of an eight-day machine. A Modern Mechanix and Inventions artist has caricatured the contraption above."

via Modern Mechanix "Yesterday's Tomorrow Today"

Related Modern Mechanix posts on The Watchismo Times-->Link

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BONNNGG!  Big Ben's 150th Anniversary - Alex Doak Goes Inside for The Watchismo TimesTime in Six Parts - Che-Wei Wang's 3.16 Billion Cycles, In a Lifetime, Cinematic Timepiece, One Hour Sprocket, Thermal Clock and Counting to a BillionCLOCK WISE - Ulysse Nardin Planet Earth Desk ClockCLOCK WISE - Matthias Naeschke NT2 Erwin Sattler Tempus Mobile Clocks1940 Puja Thermo-Pneumatic ClockChronophage Corpus Clock with Grasshopper EscapementIgnatz Flying Pendulum Clocks of 1883 and 1965 - Powered by a Tetherball EscapementBlonder Slide Rule Wall Clock - Math Chic!1933 Japanese Clockwork Car Runs 40 Miles a Winding

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