This scroll skeleton wall clock by William R. Smith is about 9" tall above its base. Its unique design and the superb craftsmanship seen in each exposed piece are typical of the projects to be found in this section.
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Craftsman (Click name to visit a page on this craftsman)
Typical Project (Click photo for a larger image)
Ray Bates, "The British Clockmaker, Inc."
Bringing vintage clocks back to life in their original glory
BSME, FNAWCC, FBHI, CMC, CMW, CMEW
Award winning clocks plus books and videos on clock making techniques
Building watches one part at a time, working on historically significant timepieces and starting a custom watch company
A variety of updated clock designs and a host of books on how to build them
Keeping track of time was one man's earliest preoccupations. Sand flowing through an hourglass or the position of the sun in the sky was used until clock makers found that sources of energy like suspended weights or wound springs could be used to drive gears to accurately translate a mechanical movement into a measure of time. Clock makers developed some of the first machine tools to help them produce the precise gears and shafts needed to build a clock mechanism. Clock makers also contributed to accurate navigation, because, while latitude could be measured with a sextant, without a way to compare the exact time of day to the position of the sun or stars, it was impossible to determine longitude. In 1761, carpenter and self-taught English clock maker John Harrison came up with the first clock that could remain accurate for long periods in the constant motion of a marine environment where a pendulum could not be used. Soon, clockmakers and the resultant growing clock making industry were able to provide compact timepieces that were within the budget of the common man. Today, most watches and clocks are powered electronically using the highly accurate vibration of crystals, but this has not dampened the enthusiasm for making and enjoying the old mechanical clocks. The task of designing and making an accurate mechanical clock is no less challenging today, and there are a number of craftsmen carrying on this honored tradition. Click on any of the names listed above to learn about the craftsman and to see some of the clocks produced as a result of their work.
National Geographic magazine recently published a short history of the changing methods of keeping time by Lizzie Buchen. It shows how the improvements over the years have affected accuracy. Here is what they offered:
3500 through 1500 B.C.—The Earliest Clocks. Mechanism: The sun's movement across the sky, water dripping from a vessel, candles burning down through marked increments. Error: Extremely large and variable. Accurate enough to schedule religious ceremonies
1200s through 1920s—Mechanical Clocks. Mechanism: Balance wheels, weights or pendulums. Error: From 2 hours per day in the 1200s to 1 second per year in 1921. Accurate enough to coordinate military activities and standardize trains.
1920s through the present—Quartz clocks. Mechanism: Electrically induced vibrations of quartz crystal. Error: From 10 seconds per day for a cheap watch to 0.3 seconds per year. Accurate enough to measure variations in the rotation rate of planet Earth.
1949 through the present—Atomic clocks. Mechanism: Microwave resonance of atoms. Error: From 1 second every 300 years in 1955 to 1 second in 70 million years in 2001. Accurate enough to synchronize GPS satellites.
Future—Optical Atomic Clocks. Mechanism: Ultraviolet resonance of atoms. Error: Less than 1 second in 1 billion years. Accurate enough to improve space navigation.
If you have additional information on a project or builder shown on this site that your would like to contribute, please e-mail craig@CraftsmanshipMuseum.com. We also welcome new contributions. Please see our page at www.CraftsmanshipMuseum.com/newsubmit.htm for a submission form and guidelines for submitting descriptive copy and photos for a new project.
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