It’s a rare clock that visibly demonstrates how time is measured or shows the connection between the earth’s rotation and the time on the clock face. The Astrolabium and Tellurium mantel clocks made by Hermle do exactly that, and do it in a stunning way.
Under the crystal glass domes are three miniature spheres: the sun, the moon and the earth. Each one is a model of its corresponding celestial body. Of the three bodies, only the earth defines time. The earth is the “fountainhead” of the clock and that’s because one full rotation on its axis represents one full day, and each rotation is measured into hours, minutes and seconds. So, in a spectacular way, the rotating hands of any mechanical clock, not just the astronomical type, bring the rotating earth right into your home. Think about the wonder of that! The nice thing about an Astrolabium and Tellurium clock is that the inside of the dome, in a way, becomes your personal planetarium. (Photos above: Tellurium I models in cherry and piano black).
How does any clock divide the day into hours, minutes and seconds and so tell us the time? It happens through an ingenious use of gears that divide the motion of the clock hands into 24 hours, 720 minutes and 86,400 seconds every day; all done in perfect unison with the earth’s daily rotation. (Photo on right: Tellurium II model)
But with these astronomical clocks you get more than just an answer to the question “what time is it?”
If at any time, day or night, you want to see where you are on the miniature earth, it will show you. You can watch your hometown location move along as the little earth rotates on its axis. Let’s say it’s 5:30 five thirty in the morning and the sun is just rising, you’ll see your miniature neighborhood just starting to come around the bend as it’s approaching a view of the sun; at noon, dusk, midnight, or any time of day, you’ll see just where your town is in on the rotating globe. And that’s not all. Do you like to follow the lunar phases? Well, you can. These clocks reproduce all the moon’s phases in its 29.5 day cycle as it rotates on its axis and revolves around the earth.
The Astrolabium and Tellurium clocks have a way of stirring your imagination, and making you think. So many of us have an innate fascination with time and space. Earth’s movement is not an isolated dance in outer space, but written into the choreography of our solar system and into the fabric of our every day living. So when we check for the time of day on the dial of the astronomical clocks and can’t help but notice the sun, moon and earth below the crystal dome, we might be reminded about the wonders of the heavens. We might just get a sense that we’re not only a citizen of our country, but of planet earth as well, and the cosmic neighborhood beyond it. How’s that for citizenship? (Photo above: Astrolabium).
Now, we must come back to earth for a bit, to the details, the craftsmanship, the design of these clocks. What’s so striking about them is how beauty and science so tastefully come together in one timepiece. There’s so much to capture your attention. And nothing is hidden from view; from a 360 degrees view around the clock, you can take a look right into the workings of the intricate gear train system. You can also follow the miniature earth as it rotates on its axis and makes its annual orbit around the sun.
If you enjoy the artistry of scroll work and etching, the Astrolabium’s face has a laser cut center pattern, and its brass center disc has inscribed all twelve zodiac signs. This clock is smaller in size than the Tellurium models, since its movement is quartz powered. See Astrolabium details here.
The Tellurium comes in three different models with a different finishes and casings. It also has etched brass center discs. Its larger size allows for a key wound 4/4 Westminster movement with four brass bells. Other features are an 11 jewel escapement, rosettes and a second hand. The Tellurium III (photo on right) has opening doors, automatic night shut off and pearl decor. See more details here.
Now, back into the cosmos…
Top Photo – Outer space view of the earth, moon and sun
Photo # 1 – Hermle Tellurium I Mantel Clocks
Photo # 2 – Hermle Tellurium II Mantel Clock
Photo # 3 – View of the earth from outer space
Photo # 4 – Phases of the moon
Photo # 5 – Hermle Astrolabium Mantel Clock
Photo # 6 – Man views the cosmos
Photo # 7 – Hermle Tellurium III Mantel Clock