Category Archives: Clock History

Pendulum Clocks: Who Invented the Pendulum Clock?

The pendulum clock did not immediately come to Galileo’s mind when he noticed, in his late teens, that regardless the size of the arc a lamp hanging from the ceiling of an Italian cathedral makes when it swings, the time it takes to make that arc is always the same. Always.

Galileo would utilize this observation in his astronomical work which dominated his life. It was only in his old age that it occurred to him to apply it to mechanical construction and the keeping of time.

The First Pendulum Clock Design

The first pendulum clock of any practical import wasn’t invented until the mid-seventeenth century when Dutchman Christiaan Huygens patented a design in which he used a pendulum in conjunction with a verge escapement. (An escapement is the mechanism in a clock movement that controls the rate at which the clock ticks. The verge escapement is also known as the crown-wheel escapement.)

read more

Brief History of Time Keeping

History of Time

Cleopatra's Needle History of TimeAs we consider the history of time, it becomes obvious that at some point it must have become necessary for our ancestors to come up with a way to catalog the moments in the day and devise a system that would place them all on the same page, so to speak, to schedule public gatherings or work schedules.

SHadow Clocks

Shadow clocks or sundials were among the earliest of timekeepers. Cleopatra’s Needle (right) is an example that now resides along the Thames in London. The refined engineering of these instruments became so precise that, as Derek Roberts writes, “(L)ittle ivory tablet sundials and ring sundials [were], in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, the equivalent of the gentleman’s pocket watch.”

read more

What is a Regulator Clock?

What is a regulator clock?Many people ask us, “What is a regulator clock?” It is an excellent question, but one difficult to answer.

Historically Speaking

Even the preeminent horologist Derek Roberts admitted as much in his stunning volume Precision Pendulum Clocks: The Quest for Accurate Time Keeping. He wrote in his introduction:

“The term ‘regulator’ is such a confusing one . . . Many authorities would insist that any clock so described must have a “regulator dial layout” or, as some would say an ‘Astro,’ or Astronomical dial, by which is meant a center sweep minute hand and a separate seconds and hour rings, usually placed below 12 o’clock and above 6 o’clock . . . ”

read more