NIGHT CLOCK VEILLEUSE Ca. 1750 Switzerland

Mantel clocks Varia


Circa 1750

This Swiss night clock has an eight-day, spring-driven brass movement with circular plates and has going, striking and alarm trains. The going train has verge escapement with a short silk-suspended pendulum, whilst the striking train indicates the hours fully on a bell to the side of the movement. It can be repeated at will by pulling a chord. Both trains are driven by a single barrel. The alarm train is also driven by a barrel and the two barrels can be wind up at the front of the dial. In this way one can tell the time at night.

The circular pierced silvered-brass dial, which is attached to a three-spoke support, rotates on a dial plate. The latter has a glazed aperture, behind which a light or a candle can be positioned. As the Roman hour numerals are pierced, as well as the half-hour and quarter-hour markers, the time can be read in the dark. The time can be read in the dark which is indicated by a major pierced flower. The time is indicated by the bill of a pierced diving pigeon, which is flanked by cast-brass basilisks, set in scroll and leaf motifs. The top fret is counterbalanced by a similar ornament below the dial.

The case is constructed between iron top and bottom plates which hold a brass housing with doors to the sides, the whole behind the dial. The whole is raised on arched cast ornamental ormolu feet which can be partly folded in.

Duration 1 week

Height 32 cm.
Width 17 cm.
Depth 9 cm.

The problem to find out what time it is in the dark in earlier times was solved in several ways. There were some clocks that were fitted with small knobs on the dial so one could ‘feel’ the time by hand. There were of course the clocks with repeating work, a mechanism that would tell time by striking either the last hour, or the hours, quarters and sometimes even minutes. In the early 19th Century there were even clocks made that projected a dial on the wall. This timepiece has a pierced chapter ring that can be illuminated by a small light source from behind. The compact and elegant design with folding feet suggests that these clocks were also used for travel.

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