Mechanical Clocks

12th Nov 2021

Mechanical Clocks

Despite the ever changing world of technology, mechanical clocks have continued to remain popular. They are a marvel of microengineering and do not require an electrical or battery power source..

Mechanical wall clocks are a great decorative piece and if you are new to them, don’t worry as we are going to discuss them in the following post.

What is a Mechanical Clock?

A Mechanical clock is a timepiece that functions similarly to a mechanical wrist watch, with key wound components and no electricity or battery power source.

Often mechanical clocks feature pendulums.

How Do Mechanical Clocks Work?

There is a wide variety of clocks available these days. All of them have an energy source that controls an oscillator, (a pendulum or escapement) that measures time in equal parts.

The thing that differentiates all clocks from one another most is where the oscillation and energy come from. Although similar and sometimes used interchangeably mechanical clockwork and quartz clockwork.

Mechanical clocks differ in that they do not rely on batteries for keeping time. Rather, they take the energy stored within a wound mainspring. That is why mechanical clocks need to be wound up to keep time accurately.

When you wind up one of these clocks, you are winding up an internal mainspring . As this unwinds slowly, several components start moving resulting in the gears turning.

One of the most crucial components is the escapement. This maintains the release of energy from the mainsprings which translates into the pinions and wheels moving and which in turn moves the hands around the dial.

The final component that you need to understand is the oscillator. The oscillator usually comes in the form of a pendulum or balance wheel. The pendulum or balance wheel should move back and forth at the same speed caused by the slow and steady release of the stored energy in the mainspring. Every swing of the balance wheel or pendulum releases one of the teeth in the gears of the escapement and this allows the gear train to advance at a specific amount to move the hands forward.

Brief History of Mechanical Clocks

To understand how far mechanical clocks have come you need to understand a little about their history.

During the Middle Ages, technological advancement had reached a bit of a standstill throughout Europe.


Although they had evolved somewhat, sundials were still similar to the Egyptian style. There were simplified sundials that were installed above doorways as a way of indicating when it was midday.

The arrival of Mechanical Clocks

It was during the mid-14th century that large-scale mechanical clocks started to appear in the beautiful towers throughout Italy. if there were clocks used before in the past, there is no record of them.

Clocks Powered by Springs

Eventually, at some time during early 1500, a locksmith from Germany named Peter Henhein devised clocks that were powered by springs and because the heavy drive weight was replaced, they were able to be more portable and smaller and these clocks were nicknamed Nuremberg Eggs, after the birthplace of Mr Henhein. Although the mainspring was slowed down they were still popular among the wealthy due to their design making it easy for them it be placed on a shelf.

More Accurate Mechanical Clocks

A dental scientist called Christiaan Huygens was the individual who invented the first clock that came with a pendulum built into it. The mechanism that regulated the time had a natural speed and pace of oscillation. The thing that made Huygens design stand out is the fact that the clock only had an error of around less than a minute every day. This was notable as it was the first time it had been achieved. Later refinements were then made to reduce the errors to just below 10 seconds every day.

Huygens was also behind the development of the spring assembly and balance wheel and introduced these components in 1673.

How to Choose a Mechanical Clock

So, you are now educated a bit more on what mechanical clocks are, how they work and have had a little insight into their history and are now ready to invest in one. You may wonder if there are any considerations you need to make.

For one thing, as with anything you spend your hard-earned money on, you must choose a mechanical clock because you actually love it and not just follow a trend. The timepieces you like will not always be the same as those that others like and that is very much true when it comes to mechanical clocks. Taste is very subjective, after all.

Aside from taking your own personal taste into consideration, there are some other principles you need to bear in mind when choosing the right clocks for your home.

For example, a small-sized room will look better with a smaller sized clock, whereas a larger room will suit a larger clock. If you try the opposite, you may find that a large clock swallows up the entire small room and makes it feel even smaller, whereas a small clock may just feel lost and out of place in a larger room.

You need to consider the face size too, and if you think the time is going to be read from a distance, it is best to opt for a larger clock face.

We hope we have provided you with enough information to find the best mechanical clock for you and your household.  You can see the different ranges of mechanical clocks by the clicking the different links below

Bracket / Mantel clocks
Wall clocks
Grandfather clocks
Bespoke clocks
Carriage clocks
Antique clocks

If you have any questions, please contact us by calling the shop on 01294 829839 or emailing us