Carriage clocks

Carriage clocks

As the name implies, travel clocks were easy to carry and were intended for travellers. They were often leather covered. By 1700 travellers used the so-called coach clock, which looked very similar to a pocket watch, but much larger. Like later travel clocks, they were also protected by leather or wooden cases. The movement often differed, but striking was mostly on a bell. Friedberg near Augsburg was the centre of production, but they were produced in many parts of the Reich. The travel clock or, travel alarm clock, were created in the mid-eighteenth century and were manufactured in almost all parts of the Empire of Austria. Their appearance is fundamentally different from comparable clocks in France, Switzerland and England. The difference in style is brought about because of the clock mechanisms with their 30 hour duration, painted dials of early models and wide spread use in Austria of quarter striking on bells and gongs. The cases from the late 18th century are rectangular with a semi-circular top. Around 1810, the shape of the clock changed and the clock became round, from the 1840s onwards we can once again find rectangular clocks of various materials such as wood, bronze, mother-of-pearl and occasionally granite. Gilded bronze ornaments can be found in guilloche models or with bars in bronze or engraved mother-of-pearl plates. Even clocks with large silver cases have been preserved. With this type of clock, the variety of forms, appearance and materials was virtually limitless.

Clocks of the 1840s and 1850s were artfully veneered and decorated using tortoiseshell with and without ivory inlays. Simpler models were made of fruit wood and ebonized with ornamental fittings. The dials can be made of enamel and silver-plated metal. Signatures are on the dial or as factory engraving on the back plate or spring retainer. Artistic designs with miniature portraits, automata and landscape painting on the enamel dials as well as date display, strike silent, repeat and alarm functions are common on this type of Austrian clock. Well-known masters such as Happacher, Brändel, Fertbauer, Leichtl, Flaschge, Götz, Ruetschmann and Schiesel in Vienna, Biswanger, Schmidt in Prague and Hillrich, Seiffner and Rauschmannin Budapest and Guldan in Bratislava can be found via clock signatures and testify that these clockmakers have produced various types of clocks for every customer and taste in their workshops. It is regrettable that only a few exhibits have found their way into museums’ collections and that the collections of large numbers are in private hands in Vienna and Budapest. A few clocks are accessible, for example in the Clock Museum in Vienna, the Iparmüvészeti Muzeum in Budapest, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, the Clock Museum Good Shepherd House in Bratislava, the Hipolit House in Krakow and the Schmidt Museum in Szombathely, but are seldom viewed.