Vienna Clock Museum: Thousands of Unique Clockworks
In the very center of the Austrian capital, in a three-story palace, there are halls with old clocks. The establishment was opened in 1921. The first exhibition consisted of watches from the private collection of Rudolf Kaftan and Maria von Ebner-Eschenbach. Over a hundred years, the number of exhibits has increased tenfold, and at the moment the museum collection contains almost four thousand different unique antique clock mechanisms.
The astronomical clock of Cayetano is located in a special place of honor.
An amazing mechanism shows the time, length of the day and the position of the planets of the solar system at the moment. In addition, the clock shows the time for the largest cities in the world, located in all zones. Displayed and such parameters as the time of sunrise and sunset, equinox and solstice, new moon and full moon.
Among the equally valuable specimens is a tower clock designed in the fifteenth century for St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. Visitors to the museum can also see the collection of hourglasses. Particularly noteworthy are French-made marine clocks from the mid-twelfth century. The sand in them is sifted powder of black marble, boiled in red wine and dried in the sun. It was believed that this technique provides the highest accuracy.
The halls of the museum contain a variety of clocks created in the period from the fourteenth to the twentieth century.
Among them there are products designed in various styles: neo-gothic, rococo, modern and many others. These exquisite items from past eras can trace the history of mankind and the evolution of clockwork. Here you can see such incredible mechanisms as clocks built into paintings, dresser clocks, vase clocks, bottle clocks, the very first pocket and wrist models. There is also a musical clock with a choice of melodies. Almost all exhibits are in working condition and show the exact time at the moment.
A separate exposition is dedicated to Henri Picard.
Magnificent watches made of bronze, porcelain, mahogany were made to order only by the wealthiest people of the second half of the nineteenth century. Picard made chronometers specifically for the palace of Napoleon III, however, these models are exhibited in the Louvre. Among the exhibits there is a unique Anker clock with moving three-meter figures depicting historical figures. One figure appears every hour, and at noon and midnight they all come together.
There is a collection of chronometers by Peter Henlein from Nuremberg.
Peter Henlein showed the world the first pocket watch in the sixteenth century. The peculiarity of the first devices of Henlein is that they had only one hand – hour, there was no minute. However, for that time, installing the most complex mechanism in a small case was a real breakthrough. The most famous mathematicians of that era admired Henlein’s invention. There was no glass covering the dial. On each digit there was a tubercle, so it was possible to determine the time by touch without taking the watch out of your pocket. One of the first copies was given as a gift to Martin Luther. Only two centuries later, pocket watches with a minute hand appeared, and after 120 years with a second hand.
The collection of Abraham-Louis Breguet, who is the creator of the first wrist watch, also deserves attention.
There is a version that Berge made the watch in 1810 personally for Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples and sister of Emperor Napoleon. It was a watch with a silver dial and a gold thread strap. Among the exhibits you can see devices from Girard-Perregaux, Goldsmith’s, Wilsdorf & Davis, which are considered pioneers in the manufacture of wristwatches. And finally, there is the first electronic watch of 1971 with a liquid crystal screen from the Swiss watchmaker BWC.