The History Of Wall Clocks

Wall clocks are often something that many of us take for granted, and they have a fascinating history worth delving into. Different eras have used them for a range of purposes throughout the years, and there have been many developments with the technology at different time periods. This is a complete history of wall clocks, and how the traditional design that is seen today came about. 

Early Timekeeping

Firstly, it is worth taking a look at how the early concepts of time keeping led to where we are today. Natural resources were used to keep track of the rough time of day, including sand, water, and the sun. Of course, these were less accurate than other methods of timekeeping, but they were highly innovative to many ancient civilizations who tried measuring time, which was seemingly impossible at that moment in history. 

Mechanical Clocks

These are arguably the most historic version of the wall clock that enabled more intricate and compact mechanisms to be developed. Mechanical clocks use weights which hang down a large distance to effectively keep time. Some early versions of these can be seen in England and France to this day. 

The biggest drawback of these clocks is that they are less suitable for domestic use. This is due to the tall towers that the weights need to hand down in order to function correctly. Because of this, these clocks underwent a great deal of restructuring and design in order to create smaller versions that can be hung on the walls of public spaces. 

Seventeenth Century

Like many things in the seventeenth century, smaller versions of mechanical or lantern clocks were seen as a symbol of prestige and class. This is due to the advanced technology that was used at the time which made these wall clocks extremely complex. A pendulum became the main way of keeping a wall clock’s power, which eliminated the need for high towers and long chains.

Later in the century came the introduction of the quartz clock, which was considerably more affordable to many people. This made wall clocks much more common in public spaces and many homes, which proved beneficial for services such as public transport, and keeping track of the day. 

Early Eighteenth Century

Moving into the eighteenth century, wall clocks could be seen in most taverns which enabled the nickname ‘tavern clocks’. These were typically made from lacquered oak, and became more popular with the development of postal services and bus routes which needed to be kept track of. 

By the end of the early eighteenth century, most taverns and coaching inns had their own wall clock which was ideal for predicting public transport and postal services. 

Late Eighteenth Century

The late eighteenth century saw more development and widespread use of wall clocks. During the reign of George III, banks, offices, servant halls and kitchens needed to use a way of tracking time with a consistent clock. More people needed to keep track of time for business activity, cooking duration, and other regular services. 

Because of this, additional changes could be seen to the wall clock. Large round dials with the pendulum hidden beneath the face or external framework made them easier to glance at and check the time faster. The main reason for the large faces is that they can be seen from further distances away. 

Nineteenth Century

Victorians went on to explore elaborate designs, with the focus still being on the large dials that are easy to read. The framework surrounding the clocks could be seen in floral patterns with intricate carvings and shapes. Oak cases usually demonstrated their own motifs, with more complex ones typically being shown off in more prestigious households. 

Modern Wall Clocks

Nowadays, modern wall clocks can be seen in a range of designs, shapes, and sizes. The early versions are celebrated with big grandfather clocks, while large dials are still the preference. You can now choose from a huge variety of colors, shapes, and styles that will fit the themes of your home. Check out the different wall clocks with


Wall clocks have a rich history with humble beginnings as with other clock designs. They were briefly used as symbols of class within society which many people would strive towards. The function of wall clocks is unmatched when it comes to keeping track of time within public spaces, and they can be seen in a range of designs that celebrate some of the origins and how they got to where they are today.