What Are Mechanical Clocks?

Clocks are mechanical devices used to measure or indicate the passage of time. The clock requires a source of power and a mechanical means of transmitting and controlling it, as well as indicators to register lapse of time units.

Clock Mechanisms

In a clock the source of power may be produced by weight, a mainspring, or an electric current. Except in electric or electronic clocks, periodic adjustments, such as lifting the weight or tightening the spring, are needed.

The force generated by the power source is transmitted by a gear train and regulated by a pendulum or a balance wheel.

The time may be reported audibly by the striking of a gong or chime and is registered visually by the rotation of wheels bearing numerals or by the position of hands on a dial.

Historical Development

The exact historical origin of the mechanical clock is not known. We do know that in 135 B.C., the Water Clock was invented by a Greek named Ctesibus of Alexandria. The force of water falling was the driving force for the Water Clock. In time a weight falling under the force of gravity was substituted in devices for the flow of water.

Then in the 14th century the verge escapement was developed. It is a device used in timepieces for securing a uniform movement, consisting of a notched escape wheel that is released one tooth at a time by a small lock.

Journey In Time || Clock Basics || The Science of Gears