If you’ve been searching for the perfect gift for that hardcore watch nerd in your life, we may have the answer: a 3D-printed pendulum clock from Ingénieur du Temps. That’s right, a pendulum clock that uses centuries-old traditional techniques, but which is constructed entirely from 3D printed parts. Perfect for a man cave or your living room, the Ingénieur du Temps not only makes for a great talking point but also gives you the opportunity to examine the inner-workings of a mechanical clock up close. All the details after the jump.
The Pendulum Clock
Although considered a novelty these days, the pendulum clock was, for several hundred years, the world’s most precise timekeeper. Officially invented in 1656 by accomplished Dutch mathematician and scientist Christiaan Huygens, and patented the following year, the pendulum clock would go on to revolutionise timekeeping.
As the name suggests, the clock uses a swinging weight (a pendulum), which acts a harmonic oscillator. In layman’s terms, this means that the pendulum swings back and forth at a precise time interval dependent on its length, and resists swinging at other rates. Incredibly, the introduction of pendulums increased the accuracy of clocks significantly, taking the deviation rate from 15 minutes per day down to just 15 seconds per day. However, there were still more improvements to come.
Early uses of this technology saw pendulums retrofitted to existing verge and foliot clocks, resulting in wide-swinging pendulums due to the verge escapements used in the clock movements. However, Huygens determined that wide swings made the pendulum inaccurate, which led to the invention of the anchor escapement around 1670 that reduced the pendulum’s swing to just 4–6°. This was later superseded again by the deadbeat escapement, which was invented in 1675 by Richard Towneley, and later popularized by George Graham and his precision “regulator” clocks. Commonly referred to as the Graham escapement, it is used in most modern pendulum clocks.
These advancements further improved the accuracy and reliability of pendulum clocks, but another issue soon became apparent. When the weather got warmer, during the summer, for instance, pendulum clocks slowed down. Eventually, clockmakers figured out that the thermal expansion and contraction of the pendulum rod caused by changes in temperature was a source of error. This was solved by the invention of temperature-compensated pendulums, which resulted in the clocks achieving accuracies of a few seconds per week by the mid-18th century.
Ingénieur du Temps
These days mechanical pendulum clocks are considered largely ornamental. Although they’re still extremely precise, more practical and price-friendly options are available, plus people just don’t think about mechanical clocks the way they used to. Although MONOCHROME-favourite MB&F is doing their best to change that, with beautiful mechanical desk clocks like the recently introduced Octopod.
Another man is also trying to change people’s perceptions of the humble clock: Don Corson. Long-time readers of MONOCHROME with exceptional memories might recognise Mr. Corson’s name from a previous article we wrote – all the way back in 2011! The moderator of the AHCI and Independent Haute Horlogerie forum at PuristSPro, and a self-taught watch-maker to boot, he had created a very nice, hand-made tourbillon wristwatch as part of the PuristPro 10th Anniversary celebrations. You can read the full article and see the photos of the watch here.
His latest project is Ingénieur du Temps, a company which creates 3D printed pendulum clocks based on the design criteria and practical solutions for a precision regulator clock set out by Moritz Grossmann, founder of the German Watchmaking School in Glashütte, in an article he wrote in 1878. Important features such as the dial layout and the repartition of the gear train are taken directly from Grossmann’s explanations resulting in a reliable and accurate clock that is both fascinating and attractive to look at.
The technical specifications are also very impressive and read as follows:
- Precision 1 Second Pendulum Wall Clock
- 9 precision ball axle bearings and 2 bronze anchor bearings to minimize friction
- Carbon fibre pendulum rod with low thermal coefficient of expansion for best timekeeping
- Graham Escapement
- 8 Day Power reserve
Each one is made to order, with average delivery times of 6 – 8 weeks to allow for production and testing. The ordering process allows you to choose the colours of the wheels, hands and plates, with nine different options to select from so that you can really customize it to your tastes. The clock measures just over a metre in height (1080mm) and is 305mm wide and 100mm deep. The clock’s overall weight is not given but I can’t imagine it would be very heavy, so you should be able to hang it on most walls but be sure to double check first.
Until the end of December 2017, the 3D Printed Pendulum Clock from Ingénieur du Temps is available to order for the introductory price of CHF 2,800, plus shipping and handling (which will vary by country). There’s also the option of a transparent case that goes around the movement, which costs an additional CHF 350.
Although I have not seen one in person, I do find the idea of a 3D printed pendulum clock quite intriguing. Plus, I think it’s a really cool way to introduce your non-watch nerd friends into the world of mechanical watchmaking in a way that is accessible and easier to understand. Admittedly it’s not as opulent as the incredible grandfather clocks of yesteryear but still quite interesting, don’t you agree?
For more information and to order yours, please visit the Ingénieur du Temps website.