Carriage clocks Watches & Varia


Circa 1850

The circular, spring-driven brass movement of this Japanese table clock consists of a going train, as well as an alarm. The going train has spring barrel with chain fusee, a verge escapement with hairspring balance and regulation. The backplate is elaborately engraved depicting leaf and vine motifs and has a pierced balance cock showing floral motifs. The movement is wound from the bottom.

The matted brass dial plate of this Japanese table clock has a slightly curvaceous white enamel chapter ring with the twelve Japanese signs of the zodiac. Each sign represents two hours and is divided in eight parts forming a quarter-hour ring. The time is indicated by a single pierced silvered brass hand. In the centre is a firegilt brass alarm disc. Under this disc is a silvered fixed disc, which is engraved depicting the twelve signs of the zodiac. These signs appear in the aperture in the alarm disc and become one by one visible when the disc is turned, thus setting the alarm time. The dial is protected by a convex glass set in a firegilt brass hinged bezel.

The cylindrical firegilt brass case, of which the circumference is pierced and engraved, depicts various images such as fish, shell motifs and some fantasy motifs. In the bottom are two winding holes for both the going train and the alarm. The hinged bezel is marked on the inside with a Japanese character.

Duration: one day

Height: 8 cm.
Diameter: 11.5 cm.

– R. Yamaguchi, The Clocks of Japan, p. 3.
– Tardy, French clocks, p. 615,
– N.H.N.Mody, Japanese clocks.
– Tijdschrift 0203 and 0204, Japanse tijdmeting

Japanese time measurement
Japanese time measurement is very different from its counterpart in the Western world. Instead of a fixed value for an hour the length of an hour in Japan, called toki is variable depending on the length of the day and night. Day and night are both divided into six toki, which cover the periods from sunrise to sunset and from sunset to sunrise. In summer the days are longer than the nights and consequently a day toki last longer than a night toki. In winter it is the other way around. This is the reason why Japanese clocks have sliding chapters to adjust the length of a toki. There are also clocks with a fixed chapter ring and a revolving hand. To regulate the lengths of the toki the weights on the foliot can be moved, which makes the clock go faster or slower. This is mainly found in older clocks. The hour numerals run from nine to four, the latter being midday. Number nine was holy in Japan. Each toki, twelve in total, also had its own sign of the zodiac, which were sometimes indicated on a ring around the chapter ring.

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