It’s difficult to not have a clock in your life. Whether it’s on your phone, on the wall, or on your desk, clocks are an important part of our daily lives.
But who are the people behind the clocks that are so easily accessible to us today? Let’s take a look at some of the most well-known clock makers from 1800s – 2000s and the stunning antiques & timepieces they created along the way.
Born in 1785, Seth Thomas was an apprentice clockmaker in Connecticut. By 1810, Thomas had bought his own clock factory and started making wooden movement tall clocks. His signature wooden shelf movement clocks and brass movement case style clocks were increasingly popular and were made until 1913.
The Ingraham clock company, based in Connecticut, made clocks from 1828-1978. The Ingraham’s were clock pioneers for their time, founder Elias Ingraham received 17 patents for clock parts and his son Edward pioneered enamel paint techniques. The company crafted and produced their wooden 8-day pendulum wall and mantle clocks until the Second World War.
Ansonia produced clocks from 1850-1929, crafting mantle, wall, grandfather and alarm clocks. Specialising in upscale novelty clocks, the Ansonia Clock company was based in Bristol, CT and Brooklyn, NY and was known for upscaling swinging and statue, figurine clocks. The Ansonia Clock company were reputable clock makers throughout the US, however, they declined after the First World War when there was less emphasis on luxury but on lower-cost products in the aftermath of the war.
Trained by his father in the Black Forest region of Germany, Howard Miller founded the Howard Miller Clock Company in 1926. Throughout the 1960’s the company turned its attention to Grandfather clocks, and subsequently earned the company title of “World’s largest Manufacturer of Grandfather Clocks”. The Howard Miller Clock Company is one of the few clockmakers to sustain business throughout the Second World War and is still in business today. Traditionally Howard Miller clocks were expensive, as per their detailed design and use of quality materials, however depending on the style and design type, you are able to find Howard Miller pieces at local supermarkets for much less in todays day and age. With smaller wall clocks starting from as little as £30.
Erhard Junghans, born in 1823, originally followed in his father’s footsteps working as a designer in a Schramberg porcelain factory in the Black Forest of Germany. However, in 1861, he established Gebr Junghans Uhrenfabrik with Frans Xaver. By 1903 Junghans was the largest clockmaker in the world. Known for producing a wide selection of clocks, the company further expanded when they merged with German clockmakers including Lenzkirch, Thomas Haller and Gustav Becker.
Through periods of war and dismantling, Junghans was reconstructed under the leadership of Erhard’s great-grandson Helmuth Junghard. After adapting a fusion of American production methods and German style, Junghans is the largest clock making factory in Germany today.
Kintarō Hattori founded the Japanese clockmaking company K.Hattori in Tokyo, Japan in 1881. Working as a clockmaker since the age of 13, Hattori was an expert in selling and repairing timepieces. 1881 marked a new age of Japan-made clocks and watches based on Western products. Japanese wholesalers ahd to buy these products from foreign trading companies established in Japanese cities Yokohama and Kobe. Hattori began dealing directly with these foreign trading firms allowing him to obtain exclusive imported timepieces and machinery.
Now based in Tokyo, Hattori was at the epicentre of commerce in Japan and the amount of support from his customers encouraged him to pursue becoming a manufacturer himself. k.Hattori was then known as Seikosha, or also known as Seiko. Today, the company crafts watches, clocks, electronic devices, semiconductors, jewelries and optical products. Seiko is historically known for introducing one of the world’s first quartz wrist watches, later on introducing the world’s first quartz wrist watch with a chronograph complication.
Born in 1869, Bruno Hillmann was a German clockmaker based in Zurich. After undergoing an apprenticeship as a watchmaker in Saxony, Hillmann ran a watchmaking business in Leipzig from 1901-1910. Hillmann is known for publishing numerous specialist publications, his work on the wristwatch in 1925 is considered especially groundbreaking in the watch genre and precision engineering.
Swiss clock maker, Reinhard Starumann, was a pioneer in the clockmaking field. Straumann produced the watch timing machine, also known as a timegrapher, a device that acoustically measures the ticks of a watch so that its accuracy can be measured and effectively calibrated. The device calculates the amplitude, beat rate and beat error of a watch, then provides a summary of the figures. Straumann also founded the company Nivarox. A Swiss company that developed the Nivarox alloy in 1933. The Nivarox was developed to be used in watch hairsprings; it’s an iron alloy used to balance wheels in timepieces. The alloy can also be used in other micro-machine industries and in certain medical equipment and surgical instruments.
Scheibe was a German physician, born in 1985. Most notably, he is known for being an engineer of the quartz clock. Quartz clocks and watches are timepieces that use an electronic oscillator regulated by a quartz crystal to keep time. A truly unique timepiece that changed the future of clockmakers and manufacturers. The crystal oscillator creates a signal with an extremely precise frequency, so quartz clocks and watches are generally a lot more accurate than mechanical clocks.
Born into a watchmaking family from Le Locle in Switzerland 1898, Albert Pellaton set out to develop an efficient automatic winding system to replace the one direction rotor movements that dominated the technical engineering of timepieces.
Pellaton pioneered a solution by putting a ball bearing or cog at the centre of the rotor. He used a heart-shaped, bearing-mounted disc which converts the roto’s revolutions into to and fro movements of the rocking bar. The bar’s rocking movements are then transmitted to the winding wheel by two pawls; one that pulls the wheel and a second that glides smoothly over the top until the roles are reversed.
British clockmaker Sinclair Harding was originally founded in 1967 by Bill Sincalir and Mike Harding. Through the 1970’s, Harding worked with Tim Bazley to develop the chiming movement followed by the bracket clock and the Three Train Fusee movement. The company engaged in a variety of public commissions including the Wishing Fish Clock in Cheltenham and a 7 Ages of Man Congreve Clock.
Today under the leadership of Bob Bay, Sinclair Harding manufacturers every part needed to create a clock, making their clocks completely unique and personal to each customer.