Clocks - A Journey Through time and Craftmanship

Written by Alex Kapoyanis with photos form her personal collection

Clocks are an amazing invention of humanity. Although some form of “clock” has been around for a long time, such Sundials, the ability to keep time in the form of mechanical clocks has only been around since the early to mid-14th Century.

Early models were not very accurate and it wasn’t until the introduction of the pendulum clock by the Dutch scientist, Christian Huygens, in the mid-1600s, that their accuracy vastly improved. Galileo and his son had already experimented with the pendulum, however, they never actually build a pendulum clock.

 A recent tour through the British Museum’s clock exhibition in London revealed many intricate and interesting clocks that have been manufactured over the last few centuries. It is not only the mechanism that is fascinating, but the elaborate and intricate clock faces or cases that have been crafted for these clocks.


British Museum Clocks

Irrespective of whether these clock faces or cases have been intricately carved out of local or exotic woods; decorated with gold or have had had beautiful pictures delicately painted by an artisan or manufacturer, clocks have certainly evolved over the years.

Mechanical clocks have since been replaced by more accurate Quartz movements. Well, not totally. A recent tour of Buckingham Palace’s State Rooms revealed that the amazing royal collection of more than 1000 clocks still function using a mechanical mechanism. Each and every timepiece is manually wound back or forth at the change of time in Autumn and Spring.


Grandfather clock

Clock making gives Design & Technology student so many options for creativity. Whether it be in woodwork or metalwork class, students have a range of manufacturing and design options available to them. They can design their own functioning clock faces using one of Scorpio Technology’s Quartz movements finished with a range of hour, minute and second hands. Alternatively, students can design the body or case of the clock and use one of our selection of insert clocks. There is even the option of creating a pendulum clock, too.

One thing is certain – clock design and manufacture can be an amazing experience for students with the end result being something that they can actually use for many years after its completion (…with only the occasional change of batteries).

This “Masterpiece Clock” below was made in Germany (1620) by Thomas Starck, is more complicated than it appears. It displays the time, weekdays, shows when eclipses are most likely to occur, measures the length of day and night throughout the year and more!


Masterpiece clock
This "Ship Clock” - Mechanical medieval galleon intended to announce banquets at court. Played music, shot its cannon and moved down the table. Produced in Germany around 1585 by clock maker Hans Schottheim.
Ship clock made in Germany

The mind of man is like a clock that is always running down, and requires to be constantly wound up.” William Hazlitt (Writer) (1778 – 1830)