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The Clock Watch BLOG

... Q&A on clock matters. A blog by Claire - The Mantel Clock

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Brief History of the Pendulum Clock

Posting date: 3rd May 2007 16:56

The first Pendulum clock was made in 1656 by a Dutch Scientist called Huygens. From that date until 1930, the pendulum clock which used natural swinging or oscillation as the mechanism was probably the most accurate time keeping available.

Huygens developed the "balance wheel and spring assembly" which alloed 17th century watches to keep accurate time to approx 10 mins a day. Meanwhite, another maker William Clement in England, started to build clocks with an "achor" which were even more accurate.

By 1721 the degree of accuracy achieved was one second a day. Once an accuracy of a hundredth of a second a day was achieved then the pendulum clock became the accepted standard in most astromonomical observatories. Issues successfully overcome included:

  • 1. compensation for temperature changes expanding the metal parts
  • 2. atmospheric drag variations caused by varying humidity, temperature and air pressure
  • 3. local gravity variations.

1960 really marked the end of the pendulum era as the most reliable time standard. In order to be accurate, pendulum clocks obviously have to be stationary and so could not work in a moving vehicle. Quartz clocks came to the rescue and became commonplace by the 1970s. They continue to dominate the market.

With thanks toNational Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Wikipedia free encyclopedia

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