The 19th Century
- Horologists were particularly interested in exploring electricity's possibilities.
- Scottish clockmaker Alexander Bain (1810-1877), the "Father of Electric Horology," patented the first electric clock system in 1841. His work laid the foundation for horological advances that would revolutionize clockmaking in the late 19th and 20th centuries.
Electricity and Clocks
- In early battery-powered clocks, an electromagnetic impulse maintained the consistent rate of a balance wheel or pendulum.
- Electricity also made possible synchronized clock systems used by large institutions (schools, hotels, factories) as well as the railroads. In these, an electric signal from a master clock regulates the hands of secondary (or "slave") clocks.
- Chester Pond of Brooklyn, New York, developed and patented (1888) the self-winding clock, in which a small motor automatically rewound the clock's unwound spring.
- Henry Warren patented the synchronous motor in 1918, which was used in most electric clocks from 1919 on. The speed of the synchronous motor is directly proportional to the frequency of the electric current that operates it, so the synchronous clock is only as accurate as its energy supply is consistent. For this reason, Warren also developed a clock that could control the fluctuating frequency of alternating currents produced by generators. This allowed clocks with synchronous motors to run consistently on a standard current, resulting in an affordable source of reliable timekeeping for everyone on the service grid.