10 Things You Didn’t Know About Clocks – Clock Facts Part One


If you don’t know what you don’t know, then how can you know that you don’t know it? This article is about things you never knew about clocks. And if you really don’t know about them, you will after you read this blog. So here we go, here’s our first “I never knew that” fact:


1. Who would ever think that the ancient sun dial has everything to do with why our clock hands move clockwise and not counter clockwise? Here’s the tie-in: long before the invention of the mechanical clock, people used the sun dial to tell time and in the Northern Hemisphere, and the shadow on the sun dial moved clockwise as the sun went across the sky. So, the medieval clock makers of Europe, naturally designed the clock hands to move in the same  familiar direction as the shadow on a sun dial. If the sundial had been invented in the Southern Hemisphere, maybe our clocks would now be turning counterclockwise; and if that were so, we’d probably be calling that direction “clockwise.”
Comment: Can you imagine reading a clock if the hands went the other way?

2. Who “nose” about this one? In the old days, some people used to place kerosene soaked rags inside of their grandfather clocks, thinking that it would prevent rust from forming on the metal parts.
Comment: But how did that smell?

3. This one is one of those “no–no’s”. As a general rule, never move the hour hand independently of the minute hand on a chiming or striking clock. Without your having to touch the hour hand, it naturally moves when you move the minute hand. Uh oh, if you do move it, that will probably throw the strike out of sync with the hands.
Comment: Oops!.. off to see the clock doctor.

4. AA_coloredGFCmillersville.eduFor this one we go back about 400 years. Galileo Galilei was attending a church service and noticed a swinging lantern. That led him to the discovery that the pendulum could be used to accurately measure time. Comment: What a brain.

5. Now for, guess what? Telephone companies. These days they have their own atomic clocks to keep their computers in sync with one another. When you call someone hundreds of miles away your words are broken up and transmitted between computers at both ends. Every second these computers jump back and forth thousands of times between one call and another. For that to work, the computers have to stay in perfect sync, and the atomic clocks make that possible. They’re what make your phone conversations comprehensible.
Comment: I’m glad something does!

6. Ten-Things-colored-eb3experience.comUgh! In the late 18th century Great Britain imposed a hefty tax on every clock in use, even in private homes. It was known as the “Parliament Clock Tax”. The new tax was resented by most. So clocks and watches ceased to be bought and droves of clock makers literally went out of business. Within a year the burdensome tax was removed.
Comment: Hey, what about a tax refund?


7. We thought we were done with “no–no’s”, really, but we just had to squeeze another one in. Never give a clock as a gift in China. The Chinese word “sòng zhōng” means “clock”. But it’s pronounced the same as another Chinese word which means “terminating” or “end”. That’s why, in the Chinese culture, clocks are often associated with funerals, and giving someone a clock as a gift, signifies the end of relationships or even the end of the gift receiver’s life.
Comment: Whew, I’m glad I found out now!

Ten-shp3x--bulk-pennies8. Would you have ever expected this? Old penny coins are what keep London’s Big Ben clock of the Palace of Westminster accurate. Each coin added to or taken off the pendulum makes the clock go faster or slower by 4 tenths of a second in a 24 hour period.
Comment: Is this what they mean by penny-wise?

9. Some people just don’t like to sleep late. Levi Hutchins was one of them. Because he believed in starting his workday on time and early, the 26 year old clockmaker, in 1787, invented the very first mechanical alarm clock to rouse him from sleep. But it would only ring at 4 a.m., and that’s the way he wanted it. His sole purpose for inventing the clock was to avoid oversleeping. He never patented or mass-produced his invention.
Comment: Is 4 a.m. before the rooster crows?

10. Did life’s daily work and play eventually become more precise because of this invention? It sure did, after the world’s first minute hand was invented in 1577 by Jost Bürgi, a mathematician, Swiss clockmaker, and a maker of astronomical instruments. Burgi’s invention was part of a clock made for Tycho Brahe, an astronomer who needed an accurate timekeeping device for his work.
Comment: Wait a minute! What about the second hand?

So, now you know what you didn’t know. So what?…

Well, you won’t have to go to the clock doctor, and you know who not to give a clock to as a gift, and who to thank for the minute hand and the alarm clock, and why the hands of your clock go in the direction they do, and why you might catch a whiff of kerosene around an old grandfather clock and those other handy tidbits. But, I bet there’s still plenty that you don’t know…well, I guess you can’t know everything, can you?

Check out part two of this series: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Clocks – Clock Facts Part Two

Photo Credits:

Photo # 1 – Sun dial – University of South Florida

Photo # 2 – Diagram of pendulum motion – millersville.edu

Photo # 3 – Tax time clock face – eb3experience.com

Photo # 4 – Penny coins from Great Britain

Clocks For Christmas – Your Timely Holiday Shopping Guide


Clocks can make wonderful Christmas gifts for your family. In addition to their charming aesthetics and captivating movement, clocks can also represent the timelessness of family bonds.

If you’re looking for a gift that’s just right for Christmas, consider one of the following timepieces, selected to fit the personalities of your family.

For Mom or Grandma

blog-Hub-Her#2-1313Trying to find the perfect gift for the mothers and grandmothers in our lives takes special attention. Blog-Romba#2-ChristmasWe’ve selected two beautiful German clocks:  a Huber Herr (left) and a Rombach and Haas (right) that may be just right. Both clocks are in a hand painted chalet style that will help define any room they adorn.


For Dad

Anton-Schneider-Cuckoo-Clock-8TMT 2653-9Dad will love opening this traditionally styled Anton Schneider cuckoo clock on Christmas day. With scenes inspired by the German wilderness including hand-carved wooden bears and pine trees, this clock will add personality to dad’s office or study.


For GrampaBLOG-#2Amhurst-01153-I91161

BLOG-Hermle-Grandfather-01208_N91152_289x433It may seem too obvious, but we couldn’t resist suggesting a grandfather clock for grampa. And why not? A grandfather clock is traditional, powerful and a symbol of respect. Just like your grampa! This particular piece by Hermle is a dark cherry with many decorative flourishes. This clock will quickly become something your grandfather can be proud of.


For Daughters, Granddaughters & Nieces

BLOG-EngstlerThis brightly colored German clock by Engstler will be a delight to open on Christmas day! Featuring a swinging girl, and a friendly cuckoo call every hour, this clock will make a great Christmas gift for your daughter, granddaughter or niece.


For Sons, Grandsons & Nephews

BLOG-other-EngstlerThis Engstler carved cuckoo clock is a fun and affordable gift for your son, grandson or nephew this Christmas. With the movement and charm expected from a German cuckoo, the overall design remains muted and earthy. A great addition to a boy’s bedroom.


We hope this guide will help you select the perfect Christmas gifts for your loved ones. You can also view more timepieces on our website.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!


Photo Credit/ Wreath: www.frontgate.com