Time Management: An Easy Way to Stay on Track


How often have you been relaxing at home and lost track of time, then … oops, you’re off schedule or late for a meeting? You could have looked at your wristwatch, computer screen or any clock in your house that is, if you had remembered to check. You could also have set your alarm clock or timer, but maybe you didn’t want to bother or don’t like buzzers and beepers.

Is there a simple solution to keeping track of time at home? Here’s something to think about: have your eyes ever fallen effortlessly on an object in your environment and its image reminded you of something that you needed to do? That object could have been anything: a shoe, a notebook, a box of cookies, etc. . If an image can stir your memory, then what might happen if the image is a clock? It’s an easy guess, you’d know what time it is without exerting any effort or interrupting what you’re doing.

In the field of cognitive psychology there’s a term for this passive information-gathering, it’s called pre-attentive processing. There’s also a term for the kind of clock that our eyes happen to stumble upon, and it’s called ambient, ambient because it’s in our immediate or close surroundings.

You might ask: I already have a cuckoo clock and mantel clock in my house, so what’s the difference between those and an ambient clock? The answer is: there is no difference. Your clocks are ambient; it’s only a matter of where they’re placed that makes them more or less effective as ambient clocks. Here are a few simple guidelines to apply for this simple strategy of passive time management at home.

Choose the right place

First, step into a room in which you spend a lot of your time. Take two minutes to look around. Then pick a prominent location where your line of vision naturally falls. That place could be a table top in front of your favorite chair, or on a bookshelf; it could even be on a wall directly facing the entryway of that room. Any of these locations could be a good choice for an ambient clock. If a room has no eye-catching spots, you can create one using the right kind of clock.

Choose the right clock

Any analog clock with a large enough dial that’s easy to read can work well as an ambient clock. Digital clocks can also be used, but they’re generally not as eye-catching and are less aesthetic than the analog type. You can also choose a clock with a moving pendulum, since motion works well as an attention-getter. Another approach is to select a timepiece based on size, color or style, which would make it the focal point of the room and an ambient timepiece. For details on using clocks as focal points see our article: Decorating with Clocks.

So, if you’re looking for a quiet way to keep track of time at home without buzzing alarms or beeping timers, try the ambient clock method. Is it foolproof?  No, but with one or more of these timepieces strategically located in your home, loosing track of time is likely to occur less often, and you’ll have enhanced your decor at the same time.

Photo Credits:

1. String on a finger as a reminder -imgkid.com

2. Pre-attentive processing – medium.com

3. Wall clock as focal point – placesinthehome.com

Born in the Winter: Black Forest Clock Making



When  time, incentive, and patience come together, something great can happen. And it did. The tradition of Black Forest clock making began with those three ingredients, some farmers, and the craft of wooden gear clock making, back in the last half of the 17th century.


During the long winter months when sowing, tending, and reaping were at a standstill, the farmers had plenty of time on their hands. And in that pause, a need was filled.

How? In the Black Forest, it was customary for a farmer’s oldest son to inherit the farm–-the younger son or sons were given only a small parcel of the farm. That created a need. Looking for additional ways to earn their living–here’s where the incentive comes in–some of the younger sons began crafting wooden clocks during the winter months to supplement their income. There were also cottagers and poorer farm families who took up the craft.

Clock making was a likely choice for their new venture, as linden wood was abundant in the region. The wood was soft enough to carve, yet hard enough to support the structure, and there were plenty of rivers and streams to power the lumber mills. The rocks that were used to power most of the weight-driven “Waaguhr” clocks, as they were called, were also in abundance.

Now for the patience: Farmers know that seeds grow at their own rate, and that mother nature can’t be rushed. Farmers know how to wait. Knowing how to be patient prepared them well to be clock makers. For long hours they could sit at their benches using their skill,Wood-Gears#2-uh.edu inventiveness, and the simplest of tools. The movements of the clocks, including the gears, were all made of wood. Without the benefit of electric-powered jigsaws, they had to hand-cut, file and shape every tooth on each gear, one at a time, carefully, slowly and precisely.

How many gear teeth did the average Waaguhr have and how long do you think it took to make such a clock? Based on our research, we estimate that the movement had, more or less, 140 to 150 gear teeth among its three gear wheels. As for how much time it took to make one of these timepieces…we can only guess! But the winters were long, and it was good that they were.

When spring came it was time to, so to say, “harvest” the clocks and bring them to market. The farmers gathered them up, and had traveling clock peddlers find eager homes for them. These were the first, the simple Waaguhr clocks, which were followed some decades later by the immensely popular cuckoo clock. Artisan clock makers steadily developed their own styles in the designs of the cuckoo clocks, and the Black Forest gained a worldwide reputation for producing timepieces of great beauty and craftsmanship. What had begun as a small cottage industry, in the pause of winter, grew and flourished throughout the region and beyond. In time, the clock making tradition of the Black Forest gained worldwide recognition.

So, great things did happen…when time, incentive, and patience came together.

Below is the “Hohenzollern”, a 17th century replica by Rombach and Haas. Click here for more details.


Photo credits:

Photo # 1 – Potato Planters by Jean-François Millet – hoocher.com

Photo # 2 – 17th century replica of a Waaguhr style wall clock – uh.edu

Photo # 3 – 17th century replica  ” Hohenzollern” – Waaguhr style clock by Rombach and Haas



The Hohenzollern Rock Clock by Rombach and Haas


For a time, it was chocolate cakes, glass products, and lumber for which the Black Forest of Germany was best  known. But in 1640 that began to change. It was the “Waaguhr” clock that did it, the first affordable mechanical clock for the new and growing middle class of the European society. Waaghur-#2-Rombach-7640People were taking up a trade in the new industries. Farmers became millers, bakers, and craftsmen of all kinds, and they began to buy, sell, and trade with other middle class tradesmen. The Waaguhr helped them keep better track of the starting and stopping time for the breads they baked, the grains they milled, and the products they crafted. (Photo: Rombach and Haas antique reproduction Waaguhr style clock.)

Before the invention of the Waaguhr, people had estimated the passage of time by using the sun’s position, unless they lived close enough to a church clock tower to hear its bells ring at special times during the day. Some may have used candle clocks or flipped over their hourglasses. But when the Waaguhr came along, it must have been a big relief for them, for it was easier to know when to take their breads out of the ovens and to time all their other tasks.

The clock went over big in spite of one shortcoming, its accuracy. Having a movement made of all wood instead of metal parts had a lot to do with its lack of precision. By today’s standards, losing, let’s say, fifteen minutes a day, would be unacceptable. But think of it, compared to how people had been measuring the time, the new and affordable Waaguhr was a great and practical convenience, even if it wasn’t perfectly accurate.

Not only did this clock make life easier, but it also added eye-catching interest to any home and shop. Why? Because of what powered the clock’s 12 hour, weight-driven movement–and that was usually a heavy rock. Some clocks, had a glass vile filled with pebbles or sand, instead of a rock. Adding to the Waaguhr’s unusual appearance was its curious looking yoke-shaped balance which continuously twisted back and forth. (Waaguhr means “Foliot”, which is the name of the type of movement of the clock.)

Over time it became known that the Black Forest had more to offer the world than delicious chocolate cakes, lumber, and glass products. The production of the Waaguhr began the tradition of Black Forest clock making, a tradition that just kept on growing and growing.

So, sit down and relax German-style with a piece of chocolate cake, a glass of schnapps,  and a Waaguhr style clock hanging on your wall. Check out an antique reproduction model of the Waagur clock on our website. Be sure to also see our related article “Born in the Winter: Black Forest Clock Making”.

See this video of how the foliot works. (The clock shown in this clip is for demonstration purposes only).

 Photo:  Waaguhr style antique reproduction wall clock – Hohenzollern #7640 by Rombach and Haas


Pendulum Wall Clocks – Key Wound or Quartz?


What’s the difference between a mechanical* pendulum wall clock and a quartz pendulum wall clock, and what should you consider before making a choice? The answer depends on what you’re looking for in a clock, and what you want it to do for you. Here are some things to think about. (*mechanical wall clocks are wound by key or by chain).

How Do Prices Compare?

KW-2-cash-register-www.financialramblings.comThe more parts and labor it takes to make a product, the more expensive that product will be. That’s why mechanical clocks, with so many moving parts and the extra labor needed to assemble them, cost more than quartz clocks. Prices range from about thirty five to fifty percent more for a mechanical clock, compared to the same clock with a quartz movement.


Maintenance or No Maintenance

KW-2-river-city-wall-pendulum-clock-3416C If you’d rather take the “no fuss” approach to owning a clock, then a maintenance free quartz model might be your best choice. (Photo far left: River City quartz wall clock). Maintaining a quartz clock costs no more than the price of changing batteries every 1-3 years. Duracell brand last the longest. But like any plastic electronic devices, KW-2-rombach-pendulum-clock-7273the movement can’t be rebuilt or repaired once it fails. However, you can replace it for about $70 and expect your clock to keep ticking for another 15 to 30 years, depending on the brand and type. That’s a much smaller cost than what you’ll pay for a single professional oiling for a mechanical clock. (Photo left: Rombach and Haas mechanical, chain-wind wall clock).



Mechanical key wound clocks on the other hand, need to have regular cleaning and oiling. If you enjoy servicing your own clock, you can do some of the maintenance yourself with certain types of clock. Check out the details on this in our article: How To Spot Clean And Oil Your Clock.


Fun of Winding

KW-2-online-english-lessons.eu--clock-with-key-for-winding-it-upA quartz clock, of course, never needs winding. Batteries are it’s power source and the clock will keep ticking for the life span of the batteries. But a mechanical clock gives you a special kind of satisfaction; when winding it, you can feel the clicking as you turn the key, or as with some weight driven clocks, like cuckoo clocks, as you pull the chain*. When you wind a mechanical clock you’re somehow “connecting” with the workings inside of that clock, even though you’re on the outside of it. Every 8 days is when most mechanical wall clocks need winding; some models require winding every day. This is a pastime most clock owners look forward to . (*Note: chains on quartz wall clocks are not for winding, they are for decorative purposes only).


The Tick Tock Sound: More or Less?

KW-2-aperionaudio.typepad.com-david_earQuartz powered clocks are so quiet that you’ll hardly notice the tick tock sound, unless you’re very close to the clock. With a mechanical clock, the ticking sound will be more noticeable and many clock owners find the sound relaxing and soothing, although some find it distracting, or even annoying. If the loudness or softness of the ticking matters to you, one way or the other, it’s something to keep in mind before choosing a clock.

If you have your heart set on buying a mechanical clock, but you’re sensitive to the ticking sound, there may be a solution. The location of the clock in your home can make all the difference. The further away you are from a clock, the softer the ticking will be. So if you spend a lot of time in a particular area of your home, it’s better to hang the clock in a more suitable location such as a room in which you don’t spend much time.

Volume Control, Chime Selection and Shut OffKW-2-christophe-cuckoo-clock-8366

Most quartz pendulum wall clocks offer control options for the volume, silence mode and chime selection; some of them feature quarter hour chimes, referred to as “4/4”. KW-2-Hermle_Buena-Vista-70737-N92214The music is generated from digital recordings played through a speaker. Key wound clocks produce their sounds through mechanical means such as music boxes, bellows, whistles and hammers that strike gongs or bells. Some clock lovers prefer the authentic, richer tone of the live sound rather than the digital. The photo on the left shows a Christophe mechanical cuckoo clock with a hand made Swiss music box inside. The photo on the right shows a dual chime Hermle quartz wall clock with volume control. (Note: its swinging pendulum can be seen through the glass panel at the bottom of the clock).



If one of your top priorities in a timepiece is accuracy, your best choice might be a quartz clock, since these can be accurate to within fractions of a second per month. KW-2-bullseye-effectivesoftwaredesign.comMechanical clocks keep excellent time with minor periodic adjustments. The pendulum on mechanical clocks clocks is what regulates their accuracy. By sliding the pendulum disc up or down, or by turning a threaded adjuster below the disc, you can make your clock go faster or slower. For details see “My clock is running fast or slow” on our FAQ page. The pendulum of a quartz clock is there only to add beauty, charm and movement but it serves no functional purpose. What keeps it swinging is a pulsing magnetic field powered by the batteries.

Which Is A Better Investment?

Mechanical clocks are a better long-term value and are more likely to become collector’s items than quartz clocks. Why? One reason is that centuries of clock making history and development are alive KW-2-invest-www.theboardgamefamily.comand well inside each clock. These are embodied in the workings of its gears, escapement and all of its intricate mechanics and craftsmanship. History, detail, and human labor are important factors that add to the value and appeal of not just collectibles, but to heirlooms as well. So if you’re looking for a clock that you can pass on to your grandchildren, think mechanical.


So, there you have it. The details above should make it easier to choose the best clock for you–whether that’s a key wound or quartz.

Check our selection of pendulum wall clocks.


Photo # 1 – Antique cash register –financialramblings.com

Photo # 2 (left) – River City pendulum wall clock #3416C

Photo # 3 (right) – Rombach and Haas pendulum wall clock #7273

Photo # 4 – Maintenance man – seniorsupport.ca

Photo # 5 – Clock and clock key –online-english-lessons.eu

Photo # 6 – Ear from Michelangelo’s David – aperionaudio.typepad.com

Photo # 7 (left) – Christophe Gothic design cuckoo clock

Photo #8  (right) – Hermle Buena Vista quartz pendulum wall clock

Photo # 9 – Dartboard – theboardgamefamily.com

Photo # 10 – Hourglass and money – effectivesoftwaredesign.com

Decorating With Clocks


 A  vase, a painting, a statue…

when we think of home decorating, these usually come to mind. But I wonder how often we consider a wall, mantel or floor clock instead? BLOG#2-hermle-Porcelain-22686000130-These may not leap out at first because we’re so used to clocks as functional things and we can overlook their aesthetic appeal. But thinking of a clock as a piece of art and as an expression of our personality, our approach to decorating will surely be different. A well chosen timepiece becomes part of the ensemble of the furnishings of a room. Traditionally, clocks have been used for centuries to beautify a home and imbue it with atmosphere and character. With so many shapes, textures, sizes and designs, their versatility works very well in any style of decor whether it’s traditional, contemporary, country, whimsical, vintage or ultra-modern.

BLOG-Hermle-Debden-Mantel-22864_070340Where do you begin when decorating with clocks…

and are there any general rules to follow? I asked Darsi Floersh, an award winning senior interior designer with O’Hara Interior Designs. She said “There is no fixed formula in the approach. But what I have found to work best in choosing a timepiece is to keep in mind these four aspects in relation to the elements of the room: color, shape, style and proportion. My experience in using clocks for various motifs is that they’re highly versatile and complimentary, and with so many to choose from, in the end the only real way to find what works is to try it. Use your eye and trust your artistic instincts. You might be very surprised. And if you get down to the final finishing touches in a room and you’re stumped about what to put there, a clock can often be the answer. Sometimes it’s those unplanned final finishing touches that become the most important element of the overall design.”

So take a look around your home. As you’re doing that…

think about color, shape, style and proportion. Then just choose a timepiece that you feel represents you, one that will enhance your decor…and sit back and enjoy the interest and beauty it adds to your room. Sometimes decorating with a clock can be as simple as hanging it in place of a painting, but there are many other ways to decorate with clocks as you’ll see below.

Clock Galleries

We’ve all seen photo and art galleries. But then there is a different kind of gallery, the clock gallery, where a grouping of clocks are arranged on a wall in a variety of ways. A-Blog-Clock-deco-grouping-PintClock galleries have become a trend in interior decorating and there are so many creative display possibilities. Here are a few ideas:

Design Feature Gallery

A-deco-mastenonlin.blogspot.com-gallery-oversizeHave you a wall or hallway that needs a new tempo? Create a gallery of clocks by arranging various sizes and shapes in an interesting pattern.  If you already have an art or photo gallery in your home, add a clock or two for variety and interest. In the photo on the right, a varied assortment of styles of large wall clocks creates a dramatic display that enhances the rustic exposed brick.

Time Zone Gallery

Here is a fun idea that keeps memories warm. If you have favorite vacation spots abroad, hang several wall clocks to display the different time zones. It’ll keep you connected to those places whenever you see the clock.

Bliss Image Gallery

A-time-zonegallery-houseofpenoched...etcLong-distance: If you have people you care about living far away you can set the clocks to their time zones and think about them whenever you check the hour. One loving mother who has three sons living abroad has hung three clocks all in a row showing the time in India, London and Chicago.

Children’s Birth Times: Want to celebrate important moments? Set the clock hands to display the exact time of the births of each of your children or grandchildren. Depending on the type of clock you have, battery operated or mechanical, stopping the time is easily done by removing the battery or by not winding the clock. You can also hang photographs above the clocks to create a clock-photo combination display.

Focal Point of a Room

A-#2Blog-focal-point-placesinthehome-Did you know that a clock doesn’t always have to “blend in” to the theme of a room? There are a variety of creative ways to give your clock “center stage”. Here are a few suggestions:

Location: some locations within a room are more obvious than others. Pick a prominent spot that frequently catches your eye and place your clock there. One way to do that is by putting it directly across from the entryway so that it’s the very first thing you see when you enter the room.

Size: Chic over-sized wall clocks like our 30″, 36″ and 49″ sizes are real attention-getters. Sometimes a large clock is all that’s needed to create a stunning effect on a room.

Color and Tone: Want to draw attention and stir up fun in rooms? Bright colored clocks are a great way to do that. Especially if you have mostly neutral colors. And in a room full of solids, a busy patterned clock can add texture and pop. A-deco-Hermle -orangesColor can also be used to tie a room together. For example, a maroon clock can bring out the maroon color in the pattern of an easy chair or sofa. And placing a dark colored clock on a white or light colored wall is an eye-catching option; or if your wall has a dark tone, place a light colored clock. Painters do it all the time. One dark spot of color put in an area of light can bring the needed emphasis and contrast to the painting. Play around with the color, shape or pattern of your clocks and see what a pleasing arrangement you can make.

Mixing It Up: The rules of keeping the decor of a room within a consistent time have become flexible. So you can use a traditional period clock as a focal point in a contemporary period room.BLOG-#2Rock-Powered 7640-rh7640webbig_289x433


BLOG#2-Hermle-Lester 70503000701 70503_000701Shy? Reluctant to take the plunge and put a bold or unusual clock in the middle of your living room? Then try it in a family room, den or home office.

Shelf It

A-#2deco-raisingmightyarrows.netMantel ClockOne good pointer to follow when placing a clock on a shelf is make sure that your clock is a different size  than other objects on the shelf.  That size variation will create more visual interest and flow.

Clocks and books make a great combination on a shelf, bookcase and of course a fireplace mantle. They can be used as bookends to hold a vertical row of books. Two or three clocks can also be positioned asymmetrically on top of horizontally stacked books. You can get pretty creative by selecting the size and color of the clock based on the size and color of the books. Antique clocks also look so good when mixed in with vintage books. And sometimes a table top clock or desk clock placed in just the right spot can be that perfect and needed finishing touch.


Large Wall Clocks

A-Blog-deco-big-fireplace-wall Do you have a high ceiling and a tall blank wall? A large wall clock not only fills the empty void but as I mentioned before it creates a center of attention. Oversize wall clocks can also be used for mantle displays when you have a sizable empty space above your fireplace. So instead of hanging the clock on the wall, just let it rest right on the top of the mantle. Make sure to securely stabilize the clock so that it doesn’t roll away. You can also hang it very low just above the mantle so that it appears to be resting on the top of the mantle.

Planning to place a wall clock on a large wall with no other wall hangings? Make sure you have a clock that is large enough so that it doesn’t look lost in the space, and be sure to hang the clock at the appropriate height (usually a little above eye level). Placing your clock too high or too low will spoil the effect in the same way that a painting loses it’s impact if it’s placed too high on a wall.

Stately Grandeur & More – Grandfather Clocks 

A-blog-deco-grand-archesWhen we think of a grandfather clock most of us picture it standing in a traditional location like a living room or an entryway or foyer. A-Blog-Deco-Grandf-near-stairBut there’s something about the design and presence of this magnificent timepiece that gives it so many decorating possibilities. It can add a touch of elegance in unlikely places such as a corner between two windows or a short span of wall space close to an open entryway. A grandfather clock A-blog-deco-grand-stair-landingcan stretch or shrink our visual perception of room by making ceilings appear higher or a large room more intimate and cozy. It’s been put to use as a room divider and as an unexpected oasis to greet us on the landing of a stairway.



Warming Up – Offices & Reception Areas

A tastefully decorated office or reception area can make that first impression a positive one. And for some professionals such as consultants  who meet  clients on a on-on-one basis, a fine timepiece on a shelf or desk adds an inviting cordiality and relaxed charm to the atmosphere.

Take Time Out For Patios and Gardens

A-blog-garden-clock-gardenornamentsdirect.comOutdoor wall clocks can lend elegance and a luxurious feel to just about any outdoor setting. Some multifunction models measure temperature and humidity as well.A-blog-deco-outdoor-garden-clock Pedestal clocks in a larger garden area can also be an unexpected addition. Brandie Morris of Electric Time Company recently told me about a pedestal clock, (better known as a “street clock”) that they have just designed for a homeowner. He plans to present the clock as a gift to his wife commemorating their wedding anniversary and the purchase of their home, both falling on the same date. The crown of the clock is inscribed with “Home Sweet Home” and the dial with the mutual date. How original!

Kinetic Sculpture

Kinetic art is as an art form that involves motion. Because that’s such a broad definition, it encompasses many different styles of art and endless possibilities. Are clocks included? Certainly! Any analog clock with a moving pendulum is a true kinetic sculpture; the most kinetic one of all being the cuckoo clock BLOG-#2Schneider-cuckoowith its ever busy cuckoo bird making its rounds in and out the door. And if the cuckoo clock features animated figurines that dance, eat, drink, chop wood and so on, then it’s that much more of a kinetic spectacle. Isn’t it good to know there’s no rule in decorating that says objects need to be perfectly still?

Not Seen But Felt

Clocks offer not just visible possibilities as decorative pieces, but something more. Get ready, because this is not the typical stuff you read in articles about decorating with clocks. So here goes. Clocks with their rhythmic ticking and swinging pendulums bring a certain universal character to a room in a way that is uniquely their own. Here’s why: rhythm is perhaps the most basic pattern in all of nature. And because the inner workings and outward movements and sounds of a clock are all based on rhythm, having a clock in a room can remind you of and connect you with that universal rhythm of nature.  How’s that for bringing some ambiance to a room?

There certainly are many more ways clocks can be used  than what’s discussed in this article.

Have you any ideas to add?  Please tell us about them!


Photo Credits:

Photo #1 –  Hermle Porcelain Mantel Clock with Flowers

Photo #2 – Hermle Mahogany Mantel Clock

Photo #3 – Four Clocks Over Fireplace -Pinterest.com

Photo #4- Clock Gallery On Brick Wall – mastenonline.blogspot.com

Photo #5 –Time Zone Gallery – houseofchicandpenoche.blogspot.ca

Photo # 6 – Dining Room – placesinthehome.com

Photo # 7 – Hermle Wall Clock with Oranges

Photo #8 – Hermle Wrought Iron Wall Clock

Photo #9 – Rombach and Haas Wall Clock with Rock Weight

Photo #10 – Mantel Clock Next To Books – raisingmightyarrows.net

Photo #11 – Large Wall Clock Over Fireplace – traditionalhome.com

3 Photos – Grandfather Clocks – traditional home.com

2 Photos – Garden Clocks – gardenornamentsdirect.com

Last Photo – Anton Schneider Cuckoo Clock