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This website has been created to spark interest in horology
in those that would be curious. Experienced horologists will just see it as a nostalgic repast.

The urge to monitor time, as we experience it, has a long history in all cultures. Even Stonehenge is an attempt to keep track of time’s passage. It’s thought that time, in this physical plane, is the result of molecular movement. Within the past few centuries, accurate time keeping became more important with the advent of sophisticated agriculture, seafaring and manufacturing. Consequently, devices appeared promising to fit this need. It’s this portion of history that we’re going to explore here. The first clocks were fashioned by ironmongers using the material they were familiar with, iron, although there were also some wooden timepieces as well. These clocks were somewhat expensive, however, so the general public would have little access to them. A word about the term clock would be appropriate here. The first clocks had no dial and just struck a bell to announce the time. They were called clocks because of the bell, clock means bell. Consequently, technically, anything that doesn’t strike a bell is a timepiece.

We, as conservators of the antiques we’ve chosen to restore and treasure, are the guardians of the future for these glories of the past. Without these achievements, there would be no advancement of technology and we’re obliged to honor them as such. So, how do I fit into this complex? My father was a machinist by trade and he had a mini machine shop in the basement, which fascinated me even at the age of 3. I would take some mechanical devices apart and fix them as needed (obviously my father helped me). A neighbor gave me a gold-filled hunter case pocket watch at the age of 5. It was missing a winding gear but I found a way to fix it and it sparked a lifetime of interest in horology.

Ed Kling


Ancient Egyptian Water Clocks

American Clocks

America produced clocks that anyone could afford, until brass was available, relatively inexpensively, they created rather accurate wooden movement clocks. There were, however, clock makers that produced clocks fine enough to grace the White House, such as Simon Willard.

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Edinburgh Castle

English Clocks

England, of course, had a very long history and produced some of the world’s finest clock mechanisms. Early American clocks followed this tradition until it began mass production of affordable clocks.

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One ‘Oclock Gun
at Edinburgh Castle

Fired Daily at 1PM

Replaced in 2001

European Clocks

Galileo noticed that a chandelier in a pub started swinging every time the door opened, letting in a breeze and he noticed that it took a long time to stop. This inspired him to create the pendulum, allowing more accuracy.

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Oil and Candle Clocks

Asian Clocks

Monitoring time in Asia reflected their system in which time keeping varied with the seasons. The advent of their mechanical clocks reflected this. In more recent time they created clocks looking like American originals.

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Left to right: 1 → 3, Ancient Egyptian. 4, English Renaissance

Novelty Clocks

Novelty clocks were produced to make people happy. As seen below, The Flying Pendulum Clock (ignatz clock), invented in 1833 by Alder Christian Clausen and J. C. Slafter of Minnesota, and the Bouncing Doll Clock by the Ansonia company, are good examples of this principle. The Kit-Cat Clock, designed in 1932 by Earl Arnault (1904-1971, was especially created to cheer people during the great depression. Novelty Clocks were manufactured worldwide, such as the Diana Swinging Mystery Clock by the Junghans company of Germany.

Flying Pendulum Clock

Ansonia Dancing Doll Clock

Kit-Cat Clock

Diana Swinging Clock

Cuckoo Clock

The Black Forest pendulum cuckoo clock is perhaps the most popular novelty clock in the world. The wall cuckoo clock is driven by a weight usually shaped like a pine cone and the mantle cuckoo clock is driven by a spring, which has either a 1-day or an 8-day movement that is wound daily or every 8 days, respectively. The time is regulated by an adjustable pendulum bob frequently made in the shape of a maple leaf. The mechanism that chimes the hour in the wall clock is driven by a second weight that is either independent or free-weight and the mechanism that chimes the hour in the mantle clock is driven by a spring. When the hour strikes, a sophisticated lever mechanism moves the perch and cuckoo forward. A wire arm opens the door and the cuckoo appears. Slightly delayed, the cuckoo call is then imitated by a bellows and 2 pipes.

See It in Action, Courtesy of Scripts Provided by Rüdiger Appel


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Cannon Clocks


Instructional Clock Videos

Courtesy of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc.

Midieval Iron Clocks

Tower Clocks

Although tower clocks are today mostly admired for their aesthetics, they once served an important purpose. Before the middle of the 19th century, most people did not have watches, and prior to the 18th century even home clocks were rare. The first clocks did not have faces, but were solely striking clocks, which sounded bells to call the surrounding community to work or to prayer. They were therefore placed in towers so the bells would be audible for a long distance. Tower clocks were placed near the centers of towns and were often the tallest structures there. As clock towers became more common, the designers realized that a dial on the outside of the tower would allow the townspeople to read the time whenever they wanted.

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Elisabeth Tower
Big Ben


Clock Operation Manuals Download

The following clock operation manuals provided courtesy of Sligh Clocks and Rivercity Clocks, in PDF format.

If you have issues downloading a PDF, we recommend getting the latest Acrobat Reader by tapping the icon below:

You can adjust the beat of your clock pendulum with the free iPhone App, by ClockMaster, by tapping the icon below:

Astronomical Clock

Czech Republic, Prague 1410


I hope you enjoyed the website and that it sparked your curiosity enough to pursue further knowledge. You may contact me, Ed Kling, with questions or suggestions, or you could contact either of three wonderful organizations that have an extraordinary wealth of information: The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, or the British Horological Institute, or the Horological Society of New York, which has its own museum.

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