Decorative astronomical clock

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 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek

This work of art is much more than a simple clock. This mechanical device simultaneously represents Ptolemy's ancient view of the world.

These complex astronomical clocks were not made primarily for telling the time. First and foremost, they show planetary movements and the constellations in the sky. Complicated toothed gearing not only moves diverse hands on the dials but also figures in the upper part of the clock. They indicate the seasons, for example. A woman points to the time. At that time, people thought that the earth was the centre of the universe and that the heavenly bodies moved around this centre like in a clock. The clock is also a symbol of this mechanistic, geocentric view of the world.

This astronomical clock was ordered from the Tübinger mathematician and astronomer Philipp Imsser in 1554 by Ottheinrich of Wittelsbach, Prince of Pfalz-Neuburg. However, Ottheinrich did not live to see the work completed. After many adventures under Emperor Franz II, the clock came via Graz to the Hofburg (imperial palace) in Vienna. In 1890, it finally came to the "Museum für Österreichische Arbeit" (Museum of Austrian Work), one of the precursors of the Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Technical Museum). Today, it is one of the oldest and most important examples of its type. 

Manufacturer: Philipp Imsser, Tübingen
Construction period: 1554 - 1560



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