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Monday, December 12, 2005

marking time

Time and tide wait for no man. Therefore, to keep track of time, we have invented devices that tell us how much time has elapsed since when. These devices go by the name of clocks. The oldest version is probably the sundial where the result was dependant on the availability of the Sun. This had its obvious drawbacks. Then came the hourglasses. Later man invented the grand father clocks – huge contraptions that would be kept in such a location of the mansions that the chimes could be heard all over the grounds – yes, these types used to be meant for the rich and the famous. Brings back memories of Hickory Dickory Dock. For the commoners, there would be community clocks mounted on top of important buildings like the railway station or the bus terminus or the church.

One such clock is the Big Ben of London. At 9'-0" diameter, 7'-6" high, and weighing in at 13 tons 10 cwts 3 qtrs 15lbs (13,760 Kg), the hour bell of the Great Clock of Westminster - known worldwide as 'Big Ben' - is the most famous bell ever cast at Whitechapel. …….The bells of the Great Clock of Westmister rang across London for the first time on 31st May 1859 ……

As man became more knowledgeable, he invented the wristwatch – a contraption one wore on the wrist. Initially it was a mechanical device and involved rewinding the hairspring once in twenty-four hours. The Swiss are the most renowned watchmakers. Later, the electronic versions captured the imagination of the people and are available at throwaway prices. That is probably one of the reasons why ads of watches and clocks are seldom seen on TV nowadays. However, some wristwatches sell for around $100000. For an update on the costliest watches check out this site –

And then there is our own very special clock in the clock room of the Salarjung Museum in Hyderabad. The room has over 300 exhibits out of which the 19th century musical clock wins the honors hands down – it has a cute tiny soldier who comes out to strike the hour. Visitors to the museum assemble in the courtyard to catch a glimpse of the soldier and his preparations to strike the gong.


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