On June 21, 1995, the world's most complicated clock was set in motion in the Zurich Paradeplatz Turler watch and jewelery shop. The clock is indeed a wonder.
The clock was commissioned by Franz Türler in 1986, when he decided to realize his dream of a truly unique clock that would provide a perfect real-time model of the cosmos. The clock was developed by Dr. Ludwig Oechslin, renowed watch designer and creator of Ulysse Nardin's Trilogy series, the Perpetual Ludwig, and the GMT Perpetual. The third member of the team that brought this clock to fruition was Jörg Spöring, the master watch and clock maker under whom Oechslin studied years earlier.
The clock stands 2.2 meters or just over 7 feet in height. It contains 1.2 tons of brass and 251 wheels on 155 pinions. It measures everything from seconds to the period it takes the firmament to make a single rotation - 25, 794 years. The clock is synchronized to UTC via a signal transmitter. An electromagnet in the clock's base advances and retards the pendulum as required to keep perfect time. The clock is powered by energy from solar panels on the Türler shop roof.
The clock contains five stations, described below:
At the top of the clock is the globe representing the Earth, surrounded by five crystal spheres on which the Sun, Moon and firmament or visible sky are represented. The crystal sphere depicting the firmament takes 25,794 years to make a single revolution.
Below the globe are four stations, one on each side of the clock. The first is a representation of the city of Zurich. At this station the rising and setting of the sun and moon over Zurich are shown.
This next station is a traditional calender clock. These dials show the seconds, minutes, hours, date, month, year, century and millenium, with all Gregorian calender leap years accounted for.
The next station is the Tellurium. Here, the movements of the earth, moon and sun are shown in three dimensions, synchronous with reality. The three-dimensional nature of this dial can be better seen on the right-hand side of the last scan below.
The final station is the Planetarium, which depicts the nine planets of the solar system in their orbits around the sun. Mercury takes only 87 days to make one revolution, while Pluto requires 247 years.
This clock is truly amazing. If you visit Zurich, you should make every effort to see it. On my visit, the people at Turler were most helpful and friendly. They were obviously proud to show this marvel of creative skill and modern technology. It was a joy to see.
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