A brief history of chiming clocks

The chiming clock is one of the most beautiful inventions ever developed by humankind. It combines the important ability to know the time with the sound of soothing bells that chime at fixed intervals. Chiming clocks have existed for over two thousand years, and it isn't hard to understand why they will continue to be treasured for many years to come.

You may have a chiming mantel clock or another type of chiming clock in your collection, but do you know where chiming clocks come from, or how they became popular, or why they have become common gifts for political, business and other leaders around the world? We here at Chelsea Clock are proud to present this brief history of the chiming clock, along with other fun clock facts.

Striking Clocks Throughout History

Many methods have been used throughout history to keep track of time, with different societies employing different technological inventions. The earliest striking clock, which is a clock that strikes a bell once an hour, was invented in China as early as the first century A.D. The earliest chiming clock worked via a water wheel that would cause a bell to sound off every hour.

One of the earliest gear-based chiming clocks was found in Syria, and by the 12th century A.D., these clocks had spread all over Europe. Many of these original chiming clock towers still stand today. For devotees of history, St. Mark's Clocktower in Venice, Italy, is one of the oldest and most beautiful chiming clocks still in use today. In fact, the central bell that rings is the same one that was installed back in 1497.

Church Bells and the Dawn of Chiming Clocks

Where do our popular clock chime melodies come from? What made chiming clocks popular around the world? As early as the eighth century, Christian churches used chiming clocks to mark key hours and important services for communities. As Christianity spread and Christian churches were established around the world, they brought chiming clocks with them.

As noted above, chiming clocks became mainstream throughout much of Europe, and were so popular that local governments often paid churches just to maintain their chiming clocks. The melodies used for chiming clocks in centuries past, based on Christian hymns, are still used in many chiming clocks throughout the world today.

The Modern Chiming Clock: Chiming Mantel Clocks and More

The modern chiming clock is very similar to the chiming clocks used over the past several hundred years, though with some key innovations. There are more melodies and tunes available, and the cost of making chiming clocks has significantly decreased. Chiming clocks are also easier to maintain now, and they will often last for many years with minimal repairs.

The greatest innovation of modern chiming clocks is how small they've become. While bell towers like Big Ben are a wonder to behold, it's easier than ever to experience the joy of chiming clocks in your own home, whether you prefer one that hangs on your wall or a chiming mantel clock, like one of our Ship's Bell clocks, for your mantelpiece or desk. Today, a chiming clock can act as a distinguished accent piece in almost any living space or workspace.

Chiming Clocks from Chelsea Clock

Much like chiming clocks, Chelsea Clock also has a long and storied history. Founded in 1897, our company features a staff of some of the best clockmakers in the world, who create and service unmatched clocks that not only tell the time, but also bring beauty to any room you place them in.

Need help figuring out which chiming clock is right for you? Reach out to our team of expert clockmakers to find the perfect Chelsea Clock for your home or office.