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Chinese Clocks

The world’s first mechanical clock was invented in China by a Buddhist monk named Yi Xing in 725 A.D. Hundreds of years later, 1092 A.D during the Song dynasty, astronomer and mechanist Su Song developed a mechanical clock. This 35-foot-tall clock kept time with the motion of the planets and had 117 mannequins made to ring bells and gongs as they displayed the time every hour.

Chinese water-powered mechanical clocks, due to their inefficiencies that resulted from evaporating water and other environmental factors, are no longer in use. Instead, the value of Chinese clocks lies in the intricacies of the decoration, whether it is in cloisonne, bronze, or lacquered wood.

The embellishments vary from the flamboyant patterns as seen on Chinese ceramics to the dynamic compositions of Chinese wood and bronze sculptures. Most clocks are decorated with a casing that totally obscures the interior mechanism, only leaving the face of the clock visible.


Quick Facts

  • Su Song’s clock was able to stand for 79 years, but was disassembled and stolen by the Jin army in effort to replicate the grand feat. This water clock has never since been successfully replicated to this day
  • It took Su Song 8 years to complete the water clock after being commissioned to do so by the emperor
  • Some Chinese clocks are encased with glass so that a pendulum most likely containing mercury (though some are just polished metal cylinders) can be seen swinging under the face of the clock

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Sellers Who Sell Chinese Clocks


Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Goldfield Auction

Goldfield Auction