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Clocks were very much a luxury during period. Most period timepieces were owned by churches, large public organisations and the wealthiest parts of nobility.

The first timepieces were water clocks which had major problems with leakage, evaporation and mineral deposits from hard water. It wasn't until early in the 14th century that the mechanical escapement was developed allowing clocks to be regulated by process other than the flow of water (say by a weight falling). In 1583 Galileo observed the regular motion of a pendulum (in his case an altar lamp) and developed the first pendulum clock. The use of pendulums allowed clocks to be accurate to within 10 seconds per day as opposed to 15 minutes per day.

Many early clocks signaled (via sound) the passing of an hour or particular time (say, when monks need to rise and perform their monastic duties). It was only later that hands were added and even then it was normal for a clock to have only one hand indicating the current hour.

Most detailed plans for small clocks, which could be fitted into a normal room as opposed to a clock tower, date from the 16th century and the 17th century in southern Germany and Switzerland.

External Links


Title: Clockwork Universe: German Clocks and Automata, 1550-1650