The invention of the mechanical clock in 1335 positively impacted society because it made people more aware of time and dependable for keeping schedules. The invention of the mechanical clock began in Europe, most probably in the early 14th century. It was a consequence of the effort to chronologically measure smaller time units, like hours, minutes, and seconds. The history of mechanical clocks is a fascinating and intricate one. The earliest mechanical clocks were crude and imprecise and were responsible for marking time in religious observances during the Middle Ages, namely, the division of the monastic day, divided by periods of prayer and meditation. Monastic communities relied on these clocks to keep track of the peals for prayers; however, it was not until the 14th century that mechanical clocks began to be used in secular settings.
Several other factors also motivated this development, including cultural (e.g., the rise of universities that needed reliable timekeeping instruments for scientific calculations), religious (e.g., bell-ringing for religious services), political and economic reasons (e.g., timekeeping devices being used to regulate taxation). For centuries, people used simple devices like candles and sundials to tell time. But these methods were cumbersome and inaccurate. The invention of the mechanical clock in the 14th century initiated domestic and personal use. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the first pendulum and spring-driven clocks appeared, followed by the grandfather clock in the 19th century. Watchmaking companies continue to innovate today.
The invention of the mechanical clock was one of the most significant technological advances of the Middle Ages. Today, it is widely known as “artificial time.” The invention of mechanical timekeeping devices was a pivotal moment in human history. John Harrison’s invention of the first chronometer in the 18th century was used to navigate longitude at sea, and it changed maritime travel drastically. Utilizing magnetic, pendulum, and spring mechanisms to keep accurate time, this invention also gave rise to the concept of artificial time, which allows us to design our schedules around 24 hour days instead of natural light cycles. The mechanical clock depicts the concept of artificiality. The mechanisms of this gizmo synchronized the measurement of time. The invention of the mechanical clock helped shape the concept of artificial time, which broke away from the traditional conceptions of time that arose from observing nature.
The invention of mechanical clocks was the most revolutionary device that affected humanity. By 1282, people began finding new ways to track more extended time frames, like minutes and hours. The trustworthiness of timepieces is essential for accuracy. Before mechanical timekeeping, humans tracked the sun at midday or midnight to tell the time. The margins of error were primarily due to the unpredictable climate. And watches were inaccurate because they had to be wound manually via keys made by artisans. But once mechanical clocks were invented, individuals could be more productive with their time as they could better schedule their daily activities.
Moreover, European monarchs regulated how local people set their clock towers through laws enforced by kingdoms and empires, which allowed for better trade and travel between cities and countries. The invention of the mechanical clock made it possible for precise time measurements. It allowed humanity to break out from the cycles of day and night. It allowed humans to be more productive in a 24 hour cycle day. It had a noticeable impact on society that is still apparent today.
For an Engineer, it is vital to have an accurate and precise timekeeping device. Many designs for accurate timekeeping devices have been invented since the 16th century. The invention of these timepieces revolutionized the world. Engineers use it as a tool to understand their work processes. Humanity has always had a keen interest in the measurement of time. The construction of accurate, reliable, and portable clocks has been a focus of Engineers for centuries. We can determine their speed, duration, frequency, and position by timing events. Knowledge of the history of time measurement is critical to understanding our past.
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