The most famous watches and clocks in history

We all need to tell the time – but some watches and clocks have gone down in history as devices or monuments that do that little bit more. From showpiece devices that dominate a city’s social and cultural landscape, through to the watches sported by film heroes and villains, to the real-life icons, these are timepieces that do far more than just tic along.

These are the most famous watches and clocks in the world.

Big Ben

The bell inside the most famous clock in London, England, measures 9′-0″ (2.75 metres) in diameter, is 7′-6″ (2.28 metres) high and weighs 13 tons 10 cwts 3 qtrs 15lbs (13,760 Kg).

The tower which houses the clock is called the Elizabeth Tower and stands at the north end of the Houses of Parliament. The name Big Ben is often used to describe the whole tower.

The tower may never have existed if fire had not consumed the old Palace of Westminster in 1834. Charles Barry enlisted fellow architect Augustus Pugin to create the 315-foot (96-metre) bell tower which was completed in 1859, five years behind schedule.

Often used as a scene-setter for movies, Big Ben is a popular photographic piece and the perfect background for thousands of selfies.

Big Ben

Munich Rathaus-Glockenspiel

Millions of tourists stand in the Marienplatz in the Bavarian capital to watch 32 splendid life-sized figures telling tales of German myth and history every year to the chime of 43 bells.

The top half tells the story of the marriage of Duke Wilhelm V through jousts, while the lower half displays the ritual of the 500-year-old ‘coopers’ dance’.


Pulp Fiction

It’s been described by some as one of the most important scenes in cinematic history. You know the one – Christopher Walken as Captain Koons tells a young Butch Coolidge the tale of how one of the first wristwatches in existence, dating back to 1916, survived four generations and three wars.

A story with a scent of drama no doubt, and though it’s a crude little watch – unlike modern designs such as these at Tic Watches – it is always a talking point for Tarantino fans.

James Bond watches

The Rolex started as the watch of choice for 007, before a spell of Seiko in the 70s, and Omega from GoldenEye onwards. These are not your standard luxury timepieces of course; Live and Let Die featured one Rolex which detected electromagnetic activity and another that sported a buzz-saw, while Pierce Brosnan’s first foray as Bond indulged a watch with a laser-beam cutter.

Grand Central Terminal Clock, New York

Located on top of the information booth in one of the most famous stations in the world, the Grand Central Terminal Clock is one of the Big Apple’s fondest icons.

Designed by Henry Edward Bedford and cast in Waterbury Connecticut, each of the four convex clock faces is made from opalescent glass. It was completed in 1913 for the opening of the terminal.

According to the station’s official website more than 750,000 people pass through the station in Manhattan every day and no doubt grab a quick glimpse of this brass beauty. Most probably don’t know that the time on the clocks – the terminal clock and the Tiffany clock outside the station – are fast by exactly one minute. In fact, and so are the departure schedules. All done for safety reasons.

Grand Central Terminal Clock
Astronomical Clock, Prague

Useful for when you need the time in Babylonian Hours, perhaps during a stag do (bachelor’s party) when time blurs. This medieval astronomical clock is located in southern wall of the Old Town City Hall in the Old Town Square of Prague, Czech Republic.

It has inspired many legends including the tragic tale of its builder Master Hanus who was said to have been blinded by officials to prevent him recreating his work. Later it was discovered in a documented dating to 1961 that the clock was made by Mikulas of Kadan in 1410.

The ornate clock features a calendar dial that makes one rotation a year, the old Czech time, and 12 wooden sculptures of the Apostles that pass by window above the dial on every hour.

It is the oldest working astronomical clock in the world. (The oldest working mechanical clock was built in 1386, still ticking away in the Salisbury Cathedral.)

Astronomical Clock, Prague
Countdown clock

Do-do, do-do, do-do-do-do, dooo! No, we’ve not gone mad. It’s that strange little world famous tune that signifies the end of your 30 seconds when all you’ve got is a five letter word or, worse, you’ve hit a blank. It’s also the only clock in the world that’s more than 30 years old, where only one half of it has ever been used.

Apparently in the early stages of the Countdown TV show (“Letters and numbers” in Australia), producers were unsure how long they would give each contestant – hence the ‘pointless’ half.

Apple Watch

A watch that became world famous even before it existed: the Apple Watch, launched in April 2015.

It connects to the Internet, gets your Facebook updates and tweets, report flight check-ins, tunes to a radio or television station, and much more. It stores your data, photos, music and videos. It could eliminate the need to carry a wallet or purse because of its Apple Pay facility. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the smartwatch will help in the battle against cancer by reminding wearers to move at regular times.

It inspired a host of designs from competitors, all in the race to include as many apps as possible at the touch of the tiny screen or at the command of your voice or body movement: camera, accelerometer, altimeter, barometer, compass, chronograph, calculator, GPS navigation, heart rate monitor, maps, thermometer, weather, etc.

And finally, it tells the time – in the coolest fashion possible.

Original article by Debbie Fletcher

04/01/2015. Category: technology. Tags: , , .

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