♪ ♫ My Grandfather's Clock Was Too Large for the Shelf ♬
Author: Erin Crisci Date Posted:1 April 2021
There is something so nostalgic about a traditional grandfather clock, a timeless piece with highly precise time keeping methods that represents old worldly craftsmanship. Tall and free standing on average between 1.8 and 2.4 metres tall, these weight driven pendulum clocks are a true statement piece, a heirloom item that can be passed down through generations and loved just the same over hundreds of years. Whether it be hearing the quarterly hour Westminster chime that would play, again and again, day and night; or simply watching a grandparent set the time on their own grandfather clock, grandfather clocks invoke a special feeling in many people, providing a link to a world long since passed.
Just a few hundred years ago, pendulum clocks including grandfather clocks displayed the world's most accurate timekeeping methods. Today, they are often kept for decorative or antique value, to represent a statement piece in a particular space and to bring on feelings of nostalgia. Master carvers and clockmakers around the world, and in particular in Germany, still use high quality craftsmanship to produce grandfather clocks that resemble the classic designs of the clocks of bygone eras; whilst other designers are focused on keeping up with the modern pace of today’s society and producing modern designs to suit modern spaces.
Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei
Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christiaan_Huygens
The art of clock making developed and expanded in the 17th century through the work of two astronomers- Galileo Galilei, who, in the early 1600’s initially researched the idea of a pendulum; with Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens, drawing upon this research to build the very first pendulum driven clock in the mid 1650’s. Motivated to produce a highly precise device to assist with his astronomical observations, the clock that Huygens built was the most accurate timepiece that had ever been invented, and it opened up the pathway to an entirely new industry of clockmaking. In 1671, London clockmaker William Clement, was the first to invent and apply the anchor escapement to the clock, using a seconds pendulum 100cm in length that vibrated through a small arc, thus making the design of the pendulum clock possible.
With the pioneering work of these three men, the four key elements for a grandfather clock were established: a weight which provided the power; the train; the escapement; and the pendulum, all housed inside exquisitely designed wooden casings that stood between 1.8 and 2.4 metres tall. Over time the pendulums became longer, which allowed for slower movement and less winding of the clock, resulting in higher accuracy- thus leading to the original name of ‘Longcase Clock’, a name that truly speaks for itself. Originally designed with two varieties of wound time, including an 8 day or a 30 hour movement, today most grandfather clocks display 8 day mechanisms.
Where did the name ‘Grandfather clock’ come from? Oddly enough, it was based on a song named ‘My Grandfathers Clock’ written by songwriter Henry Wong in 1875, who was inspired by the tale of a grandfather clock in a hotel lobby that stopped to the minute following the death of the clock's owner. Over time both the song and the term grandfather clock gained popularity and eventually the name just stuck.
Ever since the early 20th century, most grandfather clocks have been designed to chime at every quarter hour, and strike on the full hour, day and night. The original and most widely recognised strike tune is the famous Westminster Quarters tune, however many modern day grandfather clocks also offer the option of additional tunes including Whittington chimes or St Michael’s chimes, as well as the option to silence the clock entirely.
Traditionally, grandfather clocks have not changed much over the centuries and to this day they still represent the amazing craftsmanship of both clock making and carpentry, keeping in style with a passage of time that is still well loved in today’s society. In recent years, more contemporary aesthetics have been considered when building modern day grandfather clocks, often a very neat simplistic design still including features such as a moon phase dial, to suit the growing modern trend of upscale ambience in modern spaces, offices and workplaces. These modern clocks are highly precise, often without chimes and only need to be wound once a month.
For a wide selection of high quality grandfather clocks, look no further than the Clock Shop in Montville. On offer is a variety of both timeless and modern German designed and made grandfather clocks for sale, from a handful of carefully selected companies that produce products that are renown for their high quality craftsmanship. These companies include: