Novel Timepieces Gallery
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Clocks as Entertainment
Many clocks have been designed to dazzle, entertain, even instruct.
Since the earliest days of the mechanical clock, clockmakers have made timepieces that are mechanically and decoratively unique.
Early Novelty Clocks
- Medieval Europe: Tower clocks incorporated both complex astronomical indications and automata (mechanical figures of animals and people) of Biblical characters, mythological figures, and other historical personages.
- The Renaissance: The aristocracy commissioned elaborate clockwork masterpieces that showcased the goldsmith's and clockmaker's skills. Some of these items featured birds that actually sang, dogs that wagged their tails, ships that sailed, or people who blinked their eyes.
-1700s - 1800s: Specialty clocks, especially those featuring music and automata, remained popular, though their luxury status limited them to the wealthy.
- Novelty timepieces focused on popular culture generated by comic books, radio, motion pictures, and later, television.
- Clock and watch manufacturers recognized the large market for timepieces featuring cultural icons like Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, Orphan Annie, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Gene Autry, Dick Tracy, Superman, and Captain Marvel.
- The most famous character timepiece, the Mickey Mouse watch introduced by the Ingersoll-Waterbury Company in 1933, was so popular that it saved its struggling manufacture from bankruptcy.
- Novelty clocks still flourish today, as manufacturers continue to create timepieces featuring characters from the latest movies and cartoons.