Who Invented The Mechanical Clock?


I Hsing invented the very first mechanical clock in 723 A.D. ( 8th Century ) He was a Chinese. Not much is known about him except from the fact that he was a Chinese Monk and a Mathematician. There have been quite a few variations of clocks before the invention of the mechanical clock like the different types of sundial but none of them was nearly as accurate in telling time as a mechanical clock, though this clock used water to run. The water flowed into scoops and turned the wheel automatically, which led to the wheel’s one whole complete revolution day and night. The movement of the wheel moved the connected rings which lead to the motion of the celestial bodies marked on the clock.

Unfortunately, this very first mechanical clock was soon reported to be corroded. And we don’t have any reference to actually further elaborate on how it looked. One of the problems that this clock had was that it ran on water which meant that it came with the inconsistencies of its properties as well as it wasn’t a very suitable element to have been used in a self-sustaining mechanical clock. This problem was solved when after over a century when another scientist named Chang Ssu Hsiin made a similar mechanical clock but with the adjustment of using mercury instead of water in 976 A.D Mercury would scoop down the waterwheel the same way as water did and would rotate the wheel and the ring attached with it which would lead to the movement of the astronomical bodies on top of the clock. This model was designed for his armillary sphere in 976 and was later completed by the creation of it in 977.

A Video Of The Oldest Working Mechanical Clock

Before mechanical clocks there were other clocks like the candle clock that were used to tell time, if you want to know more about candle clocks “Click Here

The First Modern Mechanical Clock

This was later followed by the invention of the first pendulum clock in 1656 by Christian Hyuugans. The clock was patented in the next year. His extensive research in horology ultimately resulted in the analysis of the pendulum in his book  Horologium Oscillatorium, ( which is regarded as one of the most important 17th-century works in mechanics ). Most of this book is about the motion of the pendulum and how it operates.

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The idea of such a mechanical clock that was not controlled by periodic motion but rather by a  continuous oscillation in a fixed cycle was first laid by the famous scientist Gallelio Galeli. But he didn’t live long enough to actually materialize his thinking. But fortunately, this was materialized by Christian near over a century later.

The mechanical clocks from back in the day have evolved to what we call the analog clocks which we so fondly use even now

The Modern-Day Mechanical Clocks And How They Function

Clocks nowadays basically use oscillators to keep the gears moving. And the movement of the gears prompts the minute hand to move which then turns and makes the hour hand move.

  1. So basically what happens is that the battery or the power source provides to the microchip circuit within the clock
  2. Then this current makes the quartz crystals that are precisely cut and placed within the clock to vibrate at a speed of 32768 times a second.
  3. TheMicrochip circuit detects the crystal’s vibrations and turns them into regular electric pulses, at a speed of one per second, because as we know that is what is needed for the accuracy and normal functioning of the clock
  4. These electric pulses then turn to mechanical power and move the gears
  5. The one gear that moves makes the other gear move. Hence, making the clock tick every second. Til the appliance of the power remains intact

Insides of A Modern Day Mechanical clock

Three of the most fundamental parts of every clock out there are :

  • A TimeKeeping Mechanism: This is a way that the clock keeps an accurate account of the time passing by’
  • An energy source: This is a way to provide energy to the motion of the clock, this could be a battery, solar power, an electric appliance, springs, or anything of that sort
  • Display: Finally, this is the part that everyone sees. This can come in quite various designs. It could be a cartoon character or an antique-looking wooden lady, entirely depends on the maker and what he wants his/her work to look like

All of these movements seek to achieve perpetual ( smooth motion ). The oscillators that make the gears move are powered by either direct electrical appliances or batteries. Batteries are the most way of supplying power to these time-telling machines. But when clocks were still a bit new, people also used to use a direct connection with electricity to supply clocks with power

What Was The Purpose Of The Mechanical Clock?

The main purpose of making the mechanical clock was to tell more accurate time than the sundial, the water clock and the candle clock. This did not only help us better schedule ourselves but also helped us experiment in a better and more precise way and learn more and more things about. Nearly all of the inventions that we use today, is because of having precise measurement devices of this sort. To elaborate on this point, we wouldn’t have the internet nor the GPS, nor cars if it weren’t for the help of super accurate clocks that helped us make these amazing things that we use so fondly now.

How Did Mechanical Clocks Impact Our Society?

Mechanical clocks were when we first started becoming precise when it comes to time. If it weren’t for mechanical clocks we will not have been able to conduct all the experiments that we did in the field of science and made most of the inventions that we now use. So it can be stated without any hesitance that mechanical clocks were without a doubt a big step ahead for us and our world wouldn’t be the way it is if it weren’t for mechanical clocks our world wouldn’t be the way it is now, nowhere near. So it can be said that they were one of the most integral invention and a necessity

Hopefully this article was helpful in answering some of your clocks-related questions If you have any clock-related questions, feel free to use the comment section below. And if you want to know why clocks don’t appear in dreams, we have a great article on just that so do give it a click if you are interested “Why don’t clocks appear in dreams? Clocks and dreams!Opens in a new tab.“. Here is also a link about the history of clocks if you want to give that a look “History of timekeeping devicesOpens in a new tab.

AK Iqbal

A University of London’ student with a passion for writing. Clocks have always intrigued me and the importance that they have in our lives is way beyond phenomenal. So, on this site, I write everything about clocks, everything from answering any clock-related queries that you might have along with recommending some of my favorite clocks accordingly. Moreover, I will also be conducting some researches on clock related topics and sharing the things that I learn. So stay tuned to ohmyclock for all the fun clocks related content

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