Big Time: Swinging Sensation

  • Wurtz Sarlat pendulum clock.

Modern clocks are as rich in technical detail as watches, and certainly richer in history. Yet they lag behind in popularity. The most avid aficionados of these highly accurate objets, unlike many watch collectors, often want to appreciate the beauty of precision mechanics without the distraction of fashion. Yet because mechanical complexity can itself be a fashionable design component in many pendulum clocks, watch collectors are now appreciating these large, aesthetically striking pieces as never before, and are acquiring them for in-home installation.

With its slow swings and its temperature-compensating nickel-and-iron rod (corresponding in function to the spiral hairspring found in watches), the pendulum design is easy to appreciate. The care with which clockmakers build these pieces becomes evident during installation, as technicians adjust their inner workings to the particular barometric pressure range of the location.

There are some highly talented individuals working in the pendulum field, including Philippe Wurtz (617.864.1163, www.philippe-wurtz.com). This independent French clockmaker enjoys a reputation for virtuosity that rivals those of some of the biggest names in watchmaking. Wurtz specializes in long-power-reserve clocks that require winding only once every few months, or once a year. (His Sarlat pendulum clock is shown at left.) Using precise gearing and special low-friction coatings and bearings, Wurtz has equipped some of his pieces with a long-center second hand, which is highly unusual in clocks of this type. Wurtz’s technical prowess is most apparent, however, in those pieces he equips with a vacuum-regulated chamber to provide consistent air density for the pendulum.

Erwin Sattler, a 51-year-old company based in Gräfelfing, Germany, is one of the best-known names in precision clockmaking. It crafts 12 complete movement calibers from start to finish for its core line of wall clocks. After successfully integrating a Sattler clock with a watch-winder assembly, the company now caters to those interested in expanding their collections beyond personal timepieces. Sattler now makes a host of interesting horological objets, among them a gimballed marine chronometer that displays time on its top surface. At the same time, a spindle-shaped underside indicates a vessel’s angle of heel. It is perfect for use on a sailing yacht, or even in an older home that leans.

As digital audio formats become more challenging to navigate, here are some key factors to consider…
The creator of some of the world’s most beautiful speakers adds to its 3-year-old Venere series…
Digital audio has become increasingly complex, but the new dCS player and DAC epitomize ease of use…
With captivating colors and hyper-rich resolutions, these top TVs put on quite a display…
The multidisciplinary dream team at Constellation Audio has done it again…
The state-of-the-art converter plays nearly any audio format…
The sleek amplifier utilizes proprietary circuitry to ensure the cleanest possible sound…
The distinguished audio manufacturer has put big amplifier technology into a small package…
The new Bluetooth music pod stands out as an innovative leader of compact luxury audio systems…
The N100H incorporates two different hard drives for improved sound playback…