Academic journal article The Historian

The History of Time Keeping at the Watch and Clock Museum

Academic journal article The Historian

The History of Time Keeping at the Watch and Clock Museum

Article excerpt

The Watch and Clock Museum, located in Columbia, Pennsylvania, was established in 1977 by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC). The museum is committed to the study of horology - the science of measuring time and the art of making timepieces. Horology gets its name from the horologue, the medieval name for a timepiece.(1)

The history of telling time began over 5,000 years ago with the Egyptians, who developed the first calendar. Before the advent of docks and watches, a variety of instruments were used to measure time. Some items, such as sand glasses and waterclocks, calculated the passage of time, while others indicated the actual time. During the Middle Ages mechanical devices took many years to perfect. Some clock mechanisms with gears and weights achieved a high degree of sophistication. The gears were developed before there was any accurate way to regulate their motion. In 1500 a coiled spring was developed in Germany that allowed for the making of smaller timepieces, but accuracy remained a problem until the eighteenth century. Timekeeping in the United States owed much to British and European technology, but unique designs were eventually created. …

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