How Did People Come Up with Gear Clocks?

Gear clocks were invented during the Industrial Revolution to enhance the accuracy of clocks and to modernize their aesthetics. Longcase clocks with anchor escapements are one type of gear clock, although pendulum clocks also fall into this category.

Timepieces that Use a Swinging Weight, or "Pendulum"

Clocks were a groundbreaking innovation of the Renaissance era. The first clocks were huge, yet they kept accurate time for days. Cities and monasteries alike relied on these timepieces. However, they lacked the precision required for use in serious research.

Clock accuracy improved greatly once the pendulum was introduced. The previous models weren't even close to as precise as this ones. Moreover, these timepieces may be taken from place to place. They promised to maintain accuracy within a minute every week. Astronomers relied on them for their scientific research. They could be useful for astronomers trying to time a star's transit. As an added bonus, they contributed to the solution of the longitude problem at sea.

Christian Huygens is widely credited as the creator of the pendulum clock. In 1632, he filed for a patent on his invention. He enhanced it for use in astronomy. The issue of determining longitude at sea was another focus of his work on the system.

Clocks With Anchor Escapements that Fit in a Long Case

The longcase clock gained popularity across the British Isles and beyond in the 18th century. The anchor escapement was used in the construction of these timepieces. The first anchor escape clock mechanisms appeared around the year 1670. Similar to the traditional balancing wheel, but more precise.

The anchor escapement enables a modest arc of motion for the pendulum and allows for a greater pendulum length to be used if desired. Moreover, it does away with the requirement for a cycloidal route.

Longcase clocks were produced in a wide range of designs during the 18th century. Engravings on the first drawings were very detailed. Fine engraving became less common as the century progressed. These clocks had square faces on the dials. Typically, brass was used to make them. Winding holes were sometimes surrounded by rings.

In the 1880s, mass-produced clocks at a lower price point supplanted the longcase clock. There are nineteen longcase clocks in the National Trust for Scotland.

DC Motor with Synchronous Electric Control

Magnetic fields power the synchronous electric motor used in gear clocks, as opposed to an oscillator as in quartz clocks. The impulse is generated when the magnetic fields interact with a permanent magnet attached to a pendulum.

Most synchronous motors have a recommended frequency range for use with the utility grid. A change in the frequency of the mains electricity supply might cause the motor to operate too slowly or too quickly. Sometimes, though, a motor just won't turn over. A motion might begin in either the same or opposite direction from where it was last observed.

Valve actuators, paper feeds, and gear clocks are just some of the many places you might find a synchronous motor put to use. Most vintage clocks get their power from weights or springs. To some extent, synchronous motors can be compared to stepper motors.

The 'feet-to-the-floor' ring around the rotor of a synchronous electric motor used in gear clocks is one of its most intriguing characteristics. Heavy copper is used to make this ring, which results in a little change to the magnetic field. The subsequent reversal in field direction facilitates a proper motor launch.


Isochrony has always been an issue for clocks that use springs to keep time. The fusee, a continuously changing gear that transforms the torque of the mainspring into a stable output, is the solution to this issue.

The fusee is used for a variety of purposes. It is a gear that rotates the wheels of the movement, a gear that turns the hands of the clock, and a gear that compensates for the mainspring. Since the 15th century, it has been around.

An example of a fusee would be a cylinder with a conical end that spins. A ratchet located on the interior of the fusee keeps it from unwinding the clock's wheel train in the wrong direction.

The fusee's construction material is flexible. The fusee is typically made of gut, however steel cable is used in certain clocks. While the chain has its uses, its higher production cost makes it less common.

Ineffective Egress

Most contemporary pendulum clocks have a deadbeat escapement. It was invented by British clockmaker George Graham in the early 1700s. The deadbeat escapement has a pair of curving faces that, together, create a concentric circle around an anchor axis. The contours of the faces are meant to stimulate the taste buds.

The pendulum is propelled forward by the escapement, which uses the energy generated by the balance wheel's vibrations to do so. It stops the pendulum from reversing its motion. In addition to its increased precision, it was hailed as a superior alternative to the verge escapement.

In gear clocks, the Graham escapement is used as the deadbeat escapement. Graham, a fellow of the Royal Society, is credited for improving the pendulum clock in various ways. Not only did he invent the mercury compensating pendulum, but he was also the first person to use one.


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