How Ordinary Clocks/Watches Work

February 14, 2018

Close-up on a watch | Kawayee

How normal clocks work

We all understand that a clock keeps time, however, have you ever stopped to think how it works? the simplest clock you may create is a speaking clock. If you count seconds by repeating a phrase that takes exactly one second to mention (Like "one Mississippi"), you may notice you'll be able to keep time pretty accurately. Try it out. Say your Mississippi from one to sixty and see how well you keep time over a minute, compared to your watch. Not bad, right?

The trouble is, most people have better things to do all day than say "Mississippi". that's why individuals invented clocks. A number of the earliest clocks used swinging pendulums to keep time. A pendulum is a weight on a string that swings back and forth. In 1583, the Italian physicist Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) discovered that a pendulum of a precise length will continuously take the same time to swing back and forth, regardless of how heavy it is or how big a swing it makes. In a clock, the pendulum's job is to regulate the speed of the gears (interlocking wheels with teeth cut into their edges). The gears count the number of seconds that pass and convert them into minutes and hours, displayed on the hands that sweep around the clock face. to put it in an easier way: the gears in a pendulum clock are just counting "Mississippi".

You can create a pendulum clock by tying a weight to a piece of string. If the string is about 25cm long, the pendulum will swing back and forth once every second. Shorter strings will swing quicker whereas longer strings slower. the trouble with a clock like this is often that the pendulum will stop. Air resistance and friction will soon burn its energy and bring it to a halt. that's why pendulum clocks have springs in them. Once on a daily basis about, you wind up a spring within the clock to store up potential energy to keep the pendulum moving for the next 24 hours. as the spring uncoils, it powers the gears within the clock. Through a see-saw mechanism referred to as an Escapement, the pendulum forces the gears to turn at a precise rate. A pocket watch is clearly too tiny to have a pendulum within it, therefore it uses a different mechanism. instead of a pendulum, it has a Balance wheel that turns first one way and then the opposite, controlled by a far smaller escapement than the one in a pendulum clock.


Ordinary watches and clocks use pendulums that are inefficient and require more time every day to maintain it. It is easier to have a Quartz Watch.

Be Sure to check out our beautiful collection of timepieces.

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