There is a special Old World charm about pendulum wall clocks. Their classic looks and understated elegance recall a more refined age, when ladies wore white gloves and men donned fedora hats – think of those old black-and-white movies with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. The pendulum clock, measuring out the time in steady, hypnotic beats, seems to echo a bygone era when time seemed to go by more slowly and life was simpler.
Pendulum wall clocks may seem like a bit of a throwback, maybe even an anachronism, in this digital age of super accurate atomic clocks, but still they retain a certain romantic, beguiling appeal.
Its origins come from the sciences: the famous astronomer, physicist and mathematician Galileo Galilei observed a lamp suspended from a long chain and found that each swing was equal and had a natural rate of motion. Galilei died before he could devise a pendulum wall clock that incorporated his discovery, but in the mid-1600s, a Dutch man named Christian Huygens took on the task and increased the now vintage clocks accuracy by adding a minute hand to the clock movement.
Since then, clock-making has evolved, resulting in three main types of pendulum wall clocks that are still used today.
The key wound pendulum wall clocks are powered by gravity. The weights on the pendulum fall off or are pulled down after about a week, and need to be wound back up to their original position by a key or a chain. These are still believed to be the one of the most accurate old clocks around. There is something delightfully quaint about this particular antique clock and the ritual of winding it week after week.
Less expensive than the key wound types is the spring driven pendulum wall clock. This contains two or three wound springs that power the gears to make the clock mechanism function. The absence of the weights means less space, which makes for smaller size. This clock mechanism quickly gained popularity over its predecessor due to its smaller size and relative affordability.