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electric clocks

 A history of the evolution of electric clocks


Looking back over the history of electric clocks, one cannot help noticing the lack of cooperation between mechanical and electrical horologists. Electric clocks were regarded with suspicion, even with hostility by professional clockmakers. And yet, the electro-magnetically operated clock is basically a mechanical clock using electricity as a simple method for control and impulsing.
In fact, Shortt's free pendulum could have been achieved by purely mechanical methods.
Most of the fundamental steps in the development of electric clocks were taken by men without a horological education. Hope-Jones was an electrical engineer and Shortt a railway engineer, and yet they took the performance of the pendulum to its practical limit of about one millisecond a day.

With the introduction of the quartz crystal clock and later the atomic clock, these electric clocks are now quite obsolete for astronomical purposes. However, they can still be used for daily timekeeping at home and many of us will find it exciting to discover the many different systems used, and save them from the scrap yard.


Disc with many electric clock animations

Those of you who are interested in seeing more animations may be interested in obtained a disc I created containing a variety of electric clock systems. The disc contains over 250 animations of electric clock systems and slave movements. Many of these animations are also made inter-active.

Creations of the following inventors/makers appear on this disc:
Abra Watch Co, Accutron, Aron, ATO, Augustin, Auricoste, Badier & Paulin, Bain, Ball, Bardon, Barr, Bentley, Blodgett, Bohmeyer, Borrel, Bowell, Breguet, Brillié, Buèche-Rossé, Bulle, Bulova, Bürk, Campiche, Carley, Cauderay, Charvet Delorme, Chateau Frères, chronoscope, Chronox, Coventry Electric Clock Co, DEHO, Dold, Duboulet, ECL, Ecole Nationale d'Horlogerie de Cluses, Ecole Professionnelle de Mécanique de Précision et d'Electricité de Bruxelles, Elektronom, Elektro-Zeit, ENEM, Eureka, EXA, EXACT, EZ, Favag, Favarger, Favre-Bulle, Fedchenko, Féry, Fischer, Froment, Garnier, Gent, Gill, Gillett & Johnston, Girod, Godineau, Hatot, Hennequin, Hetzel, Hipp, Holden, Hope-Jones, Hubert, Inducta, Jamin, Jauch & Schmid, de Jong, Junghans, Kusnick, Lambert, Laméris, Landis & Gyr, Laplace, Lavet, Lenzkirch, Lepaute, Lowne, LR, Lyman, Magnéta, Moser-Baer, Michl, Mildé, Möller, Moulin, Murday, National Electric, Orel, Palmer, Parsons, Perret, Peyer & Favarger, van de Plancke, Poole, Powers, Prince, Princeps, Prouds, Puja, Pulsynetic, Rabe & Steinheuer, Rebesi, Reclus, Reform, Régina, Ritchie, Rossignole, Rudd, Rushton, Sauer, Schild & Cie, Schönberg, Schweizer, Scott, Shepherd, Shortt, Siemens & Halske, Silent Electric, Silentia, Smith, Solari, Steinheil, Streizig, Stroh, Synchronome, Telephone Rental, Temco, Tiffany, TMC, TN, TOP, Tordoir, TR, Universal Electric Clock Co, Vaucanson, Vigreux, Wagner, Walleghem, Warren, Wheatstone and Zamboni.

On the next pages I have placed several small animated gifs you can use in e-mails or if you wish on your website.

On the disc I have placed portraits (still searching for more...) of various inventors of electric clocks and described how some of the more complicated systems work. Furthermore I compiled some biographies of the creators of these interesting clocks and added a large reference list of books and articles dealing with electrical horology.

Finally, I added a gallery of pictures of most of the electric clocks animated by me. Unfortunately the quality of many of these pictures is poor, but I intend to improve this and any addition from your side is welcomed.

Please contact me at BoscoClocks[at-sign] if you are interested in acquiring this disc.

For any information dealing with electric clocks, don't hesitate to contact me.

J E Bosschieter
The Netherlands

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animated gifs

Electricity & Magnetism
Electricity & Horology
   A.Electrostatic clocks
   B.The first inventors
   C.Independency of battery
   D.Reliability of contact making
   F.Count-wheel and impulse
   G.The first free pendulum
   H.Shortt's free pendulum
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page   5
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page 11.
Other websites dealing with Electrical Horology:

Electric Clocks
Electrical Horology
Barrie's Virtual Museum of Clocks

Pulsynetic clocks
Elektrische Uhren

Waiting Train
Electric Clocks
Elekto Uhren
AHS Electrical Group
American Electric Clocks