Captivating facts you wish you knew about the instruments of Time!


We as humans are fascinated with the concept of time, some of us value it, most of us waste it, and a few of us treasure it. But it doesn’t necessarily mean, we don’t care about it!

Time is just another way of us reminding ourselves about our mortality, and how someday, at some point in time however, our time will run out!

This initially causes a lot of fear, and confusion; doubts if you may! But lets take a look at how people before us used to attribute about what time was.

Thousands of years ago, people generally need not tell the time, they used to get up early in the morning, probably go hunting… and come back when the sun would set… with prey for food, for their families.

In those days, life was simple… things weren’t as complicated as now. Gradually, when life became more complicated, with the advent of civilized cultures. Time had began playing a bigger role in the development, and structure of our lives.

Therefore, we would need something to denote “time” by… thus clocks were invented for that specific purpose, and in time they began to become a larger portion of our daily lives, and routines.

Gnomon, is another time keeping device in its simplest forms!

The first clocks ever built were used, for waking up priests and monks alike in time for their nightly, and daily prayers… but now a days, clocks have became a significant part of our lives, and we just can’t really live without them to be fairly honest. By building clocks, we were able to cement time on record, by recording our lifetimes, the events that would transpire, and the sweet memories we would make and probably reminisce them by when we are older. I believe clocks, gave us the definite gift of treasuring time, as memories that carry us from time to time. Therefore giving us the opportunity to value time, as a concept that definitely rules our lives.

Coming back to Clocks, The first clocks that were invented were preferably called Shadow ClocksThe shadow clocks are an example of a Sundial & were used as a time keeping device. The first shadow clocks were first invented 3500 years ago.

Sundial (shadow clock)

They worked as the Sun moved across the sky, It comprised of a vertical stick or a column, and the length of the shadow it cast gave a sign of the hour of the day & vice-versa.

Just like Shadow clocks, there were different types of instruments that were created to tell the time, in different eras, and civilizations such as a Water Clock which was used in the Ancient Egyptian Era, around 1500 BC.

In a water clock, water would drip out of a container, so that the level of water inside would gradually fall, and observers would tell time by measuring how much the water level has changed.

Water Clocks gave a sensibly dependable option in contrast to the sundial for a very long time. However the more architects endeavored to consummate them, the more confounded water timekeepers became. The circumstance was not really maintainable. For example, when the exceptionally old water check in the Moroccan city of Fez quit working in the mid 1400s, there was nobody around to fix it. It stays out of commission right up ’til today.

A towering clock in China was made in 1094, following six years’ work, a Buddhist priest by the name of Su Song finishes an incredible pinnacle, approximately thirty feet high, which is intended to uncover the development of the stars and the hours of the day. Makes sense of fly of entryways and strike ringers to connote the hours.

The force originates from a water wheel possessing the lower some portion of the pinnacle. Su Song has planned a gadget which stops the water wheel aside from a short spell, when each quarter of 60 minutes, when the heaviness of the water (amassed in vessels on the edge) is adequate to trip a component. The wheel, staggering forward, drives the hardware of the pinnacle to the following fixed point in a proceeding with cycle.

This gadget (which in Su Sung’s pinnacle must feel like a minor seismic tremor each time it hammers the hardware vigorously) is an early case of an escapement — an idea basic to mechanical accuracy. In any type of clock dependent on hardware, power must be conveyed to the component in irregular blasts which can be accurately managed. The apportioning of intensity is the capacity of the escapement. The genuine birth of mechanical precision anticipates a solid rendition, created in Europe in the thirteenth century.

In the interim Su Sung’s pinnacle clock, prepared for review by the head in 1094, is pulverized quickly a while later by pillaging brutes from the north.

Fast forward, to medieval Europe, mechanical clocks were developed around 1200s. They didn’t have a face or a hand unlike other clocks, but rang bells.

The speed of such clocks was controlled by mechanism known as an escapement but it was not very accurate.

The pendulum clock however, was invented afterwards taking away the concept from mechanical clocks around 1656–57 by Christiaan Huygens.

Each swing of the pendulum takes the same amount of time. This keeps the clock running at the same speed all the time. This feature made it more accurate than the clock pieces before it, & the pendulum clock was the world’s most precise timekeeper, accounting for its widespread use until the advent of modern day clocks till the 1930's.

In the old day, sailors needed to know exactly where they were… therefore they needed instruments that could help them navigate their way through the oceans, and seas. To help achieve this purpose, they needed an accurate clock that would benefit them, navigating the longitude problem that was troubling sailors… thus a marine chronometer was invented by John Harrison.

John Harrison was a carpenter by trade who was self-taught in clock making. During the mid-1720s he designed a series of remarkable precision longcase clocks. These clocks achieved an accuracy of one second in a month, far better than any clocks of the time.

It took John 40 years to design his Marine Chronometer.

John Harrison’s clock helped us solve the longitude problem, he definitely put time to good use! Something to take away from the remarkable man, who put 40 years of his lifetime to contributing towards a problem and never giving up until he finally made the machine that solved the problem.

With the dawn of the modern era, around 1929 the first quartz clock was created by Warren Morrison & J.W Horton at Bell Telephone Laboratories.

A quartz clock is a clock that utilizes an electronic oscillator that is directed by a quartz crystal to keep time. This precious stone oscillator makes a sign with exceptionally exact recurrence, so quartz times are in any event a request for extent more precise than mechanical timekeepers.

After a few decades, the first Quartz Watch was created On 25 December 1969, Seiko unveiled the Astron, the world’s first quartz watch, which marked the beginning of the quartz revolution. The first Swiss quartz analog watch — the Ebauches SA Beta 21 containing the Beta 1 movement — arrived at the 1970 Basel Fair.

In short, the tiny quartz crystal controls the speed of the watch, and makes quartz watches much more significantly accurate than their predecessors.

With the advent of the Digital age, The first digital electronic watch, a Pulsar LED prototype in 1970, was developed jointly by Hamilton Watch Company and Electro-Data, founded by George H. Thiess. John Bergey, the head of Hamilton’s Pulsar division, said that he was inspired to make a digital timepiece by the then futuristic digital clock that Hamilton themselves made for the 1968 science-fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

On April 4, 1972, the Pulsar was finally ready, made in 18-carat gold and sold for $2,100. It had a red light-emitting diode (LED) display. Digital LED watches were very expensive and out of reach to the common consumer until 1975, when Texas Instruments started to mass-produce LED watches inside a plastic case.

These watches, which first retailed for only $20,reduced to $10 in 1976, saw Pulsar lose $6 million and the Pulsar brand sold to Seiko.

Now a days, clocks are everywhere… and with so much innovation we have had so many developments that have created clocks so accurate that have changed the way we value time, altogether. Lastly, but not how could we forget, one of the most fantastic clocks ever made, i.e. Atomic Clocks.

The first Atomic clock was made around the 1940s, with the first being built in 1948.

However, the first accurate atomic clock, a Caesium standard based on a certain transition of the Caesium-133 atom, was built by Louis Essen and Jack Parry in 1955 at the National Physical Laboratory in the UK.

An atomic clock will only gain or lose a second once every million years.

A Brief overview of Clock Developments

Recent developments around 2015, have showed tremendous results in building an Atomic clock that is the most precise ever made.

A close look at the Atomic clock

“It won’t gain or lose a full second for 15 billion years”.

Wow, that’s certainly an achievement by Scientists, and Physicists that encompasses a journey of more than 5000 years in the making. Who knows, in the future we might definitely be able to stop time… or even capture time at a moment where it inevitably seems like it stopped! The world is full of wonders, and thus we conclude this interesting topic of time, as there is a time to end all things, thus there is a time to move forwards!

P.S If i missed any interesting ones, do make sure to add suggestions in the responses. Cheers!

I write about life, and the hope it bears in a poetic context. 💖🕊️