With a nod to the aristocrats of the past, the tabletop clock is making a timely comeback.
In an era where we have access to the time on our wrists, on our computers, and on our mobile phones, owning a handmade clock is hardly a necessity. But, following in the footsteps of the rebirth of the mechanical watch as a whimsical plaything, the table clock is starting to gain attention as a glamorous and beautiful conversation piece. Which, in some ways, is more of a throwback to the past than is immediately obvious. When the first clocks were introduced hundreds of years ago, they were reserved exclusively as ornamentation for places of worship. Some, such as the famous Prague Astronomical clock, were intended originally to reflect the movement of the heavenly spheres, telling time as a mere byproduct.
Clocks for carriages
While it has become something we take entirely for granted, travelling with time was once limited to the most affluent and powerful members of society, with early models weighing up to 50 kilograms. In 1812, Abraham-Louis Breguet designed the first rectangular clock with a carrying handle for Emperor Napoleon, and a new era was born. Breguet went on to become one of the most influential watchmakers in history, inventing the tourbillon and stunning the world with the Marie Antoinette, which contained every complication known at the time. Breguet’s invention led to the rise in popularity of portable clocks among the wealthy, who quickly grew accustomed to having them with them wherever they went. Clocks as furniture pieces also began to appear in houses, and remained popular wedding gifts among aristocrats for generations.
A step back
The current Breguet table clock is a classic Pendule Sympathique model, similar to the one that Abraham-Louis built for Emperor Napoleon. Specially designed to wind and regulate the Sympathique wristwatch, only two will be produced and can be purchased by special order.
Parmigiani Fleurier founder Michael Parmigiani worked with clocks for 30 years before starting his own company. The Parmigiani Fleurier table clock is a nostalgic reflection of his expertise and appreciation of timepiece history. Kept simple and elegant, the movement is housed in a glass case.
Matthias Naeschke formed his handmade mechanical clock business at the beginning of the digital boom, forsaking the trend for his fascination with the past. Built according to traditional methods, Naeschke’s table clocks take hundreds of hours to complete, and reflect his own personal meditations on the past.
Prices start at 20,000 euro depending on the inclusion of precious metals and gemstones.