A Look at the Cosmos and Time Via an HH Exhibition ‘Horology, a Child of Astronomy’


Pendant alarm watch circa 1590 in the form of a sundial with compass for setting time. 

In the world of horology, astronomy, the sky, and the stars have long played an important role. Indeed, since the dawn of man, time and all we do, has been influenced by the sun, the moon and the stars. The entire concept of how  the tides, harvesting seasons and more have influenced our lives and our view of time has been the basis of long discussions and laid the groundwork for building advanced clocks and watches over the centuries.


Planetary clock by Francois Ducommun, 1830.

Earlier this year at SIHH 2014 watch show, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (HH) implemented an intriguing exhibition entitled Horology, a Child of Astronomy. The exhibit, which will travel to various events around the world this year, traces the relationship of time and space over the centuries, and features astronomical instruments, sun dial clocks, pocket watches and wrist watches that have played a role in man’s tracking of the moon, stars and sun.


18th century silver sundial signed Pierre LeMaire, Paris.

This exhibit highlights many of man’s timepiece inventions that have been and are, today, based on the sky.


A closeup of a planetary clock.

Among the items included in the display is a replica of the bronze Nebra disk – an artifact dating back to 1600 BC that is considered the oldest representations of the heavens found today. It features 32 celestial bodies on it, with the sun, the crescent moon and Pleiades. It is believed local Nebra, Germany, farmers used it to plan harvesting cycles.


Replica of the Nebra disk, the oldest artifact depicting time and the celestial bodies.

Also on display: a pendant alarm watch circa 1590 in the form of a sundial with compass for setting time; an 18th century silver sundial, a Francois Ducommun 1830 Planetary clock. These ancient timepieces were joined by a host of current-day astronomical watches ranging from the trilogy by Ulysse Nardin to a other exciting new astronomical watches that are inspired by our skies.