The mechanical clock comprises an oscillating mechanism that marks the passing of time, and an escapement that counts its beats. By comparison with astronomical systems for measuring time, the mechanical clock is less accurate, but can be consulted at any time of day or night, even in adverse weather conditions.
The mechanical clock, which derived from water clock, was born in medieval Europe. The first mechanical clocks were large devices made of iron. By the fourteenth century, they were in widespread use across Europe. The same period also saw the construction of complex mechanisms primarily intended not to tell the time, but to reproduce the motions of the heavenly bodies and the relations between them. Two examples are Giovanni Dondi's famous Astrario and Lorenzo della Volpaia's Planetary Clock.
The first tower clocks were actuated by cogwheels pulled by a weight, whose force was regulated by a device called an escapement. However, beginning in the sixteenth century, clock-makers were able to replace the weight with springs and spindles or "conoids" that ensured the same regular movement. This innovation made it possible to produce ever smaller clocks. The clock thus found a place in the halls of palaces, on walls, on mantelpieces, and even in people's pockets.
Francesco Comelli, Bologna, ca. 1780
Caspar Rauber [attr.], German, ca. 1575
Charles Cabrier II, London, ca. 1730
Daniel Quare, London, late 17th cent.
William Sharp, London, early 18th cent.
Cheneviere, London, early 18th cent.
John Ellicott (watch), Georg-Michael Moser (outer case), London, ca. 1754
Thomas Mudge, William Dutton, London, 1788
Daniel Delander, London, 1739
James William Benson, London, 1886
Maker unknown, Japan, mid-19th cent.
Maker unknown, Central Italy, late 18th cent.
Maker unknown, Central Italy, late 16th cent.
Eustachio Porcellotti, 1860
Maker unknown, England, ca. 1906-1910
Augustin Forfaict, Sedan, late 16th cent.
Johann Philipp Treffler, Florence, ca. 1659
Maker unknown, Italy, 16th cent.
Maker unknown, England, ca. 1760-1770
Bartolomeo Ferracina, 18th cent.
Maker unknown, 18th cent.
Maker unknown, 18th cent.
Maker unknown, Southern Germany, first half 17th cent.
Christoph Miller, Augsburg, 1640-1650
Humphrey Downing, London, mid-17th cent.
Henry Harper, London, ca. 1685
Jean-Baptiste Baillon de Fontenay [attr.], Paris, 1764
Maker unknown, France, ca. 1795-1800
Christopher Williamson, London, 1838
Maker unknown, France, ca. 1800
Maker unknown, Switzerland, ca. 1800
Urban Jürgensen, Copenaghen, ca. 1810-1820
Breguet et Fils firm, Paris, 1816
James Markwick, London, early 18th cent.