What is a lyre clock?

Nowadays, it is very difficult to find rare clocks like the lyre clock. This one is a clock in the form of a musical instrument. Thus, La Pendulerie for example, is a place not to be missed by amateurs and enthusiasts of fine watchmaking invites you to discover it.


A lyre clock, also known as a mantelpiece clock, is a clock intended to be placed on a stationary square, the mechanism of which is adjusted by a pendulum (also known as a pendulum). It is sometimes called the Paris pendulum and desk pendulum. Around 1750, Paris produced the first pendulum clocks, equipped with a circular pendulum movement. The originality of this movement lies mainly in the shape of the plate, which is circular rather than rectangular. Its design was not the work of a single inventor, as contacts between masters were frequent.

Manufacture of the movements

In the 19th century, the antique clocks factories were mainly located in Franche-Comté or Saint-Nicolas d’Aliermont in Normandy, and the raw movements were shipped to Parisian industrialists: white or white-rolling movements. These were bare movements, with 2 drilled plates, barrels installed without springs, complete timers, clockwork and striking mechanisms. The anchor, the pendulum and its suspension have not been installed. The watchmaker’s trainer cuts the escapement wheel, thus limiting the length of the pendulum. He assembles everything for a complete movement and then integrates it into a selected case to produce a lyre pendulum.

Mechanics and work

The clock has a more or less allegorical meaning on the fireplace in the family room. In the middle of the 19th century, the lyre clock was a great success. The mantelpiece clock, which has lost its momentum, now participates in the decoration of the room. The mantelpiece clock is the undisputed symbol of social success, the centre and main element of this room. Therefore, some lyre clocks are true works of art, hand-made by the best craftsmen. The craze for mantelpiece clocks went hand in hand with the rise of the bourgeoisie during the industrial revolution. In terms of manufacture, the democratisation of the clock took two forms: the mechanisation of the production of the movement and the production of the theme of the replication of several copies.

The choice of cheaper materials added to the effort to reduce costs. Mass production made alabaster and polished bronze the subject. In the past, artists favoured the use of gilt bronze, marble, precious wood or crystal.

What is a “mantelpiece” clock?
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