The most expensive clocks in the world Featured

Whitehurst's mechanical clock movements are a joy to behold, in the ultimate bespoke timepieces

by 07 September 2010

Whitehurst Luxury Timepieces is a UK-based company that has been creating the most expensive and unusual clocks in the world since 1734. The clocks are created on a commission-only basis from £150,000. Designed, made, gilded engraved entirely by hand, with all operations performed in the UK, they represent an unusual and high-luxury product, the heirlooms of the future. These original clocks can be found in palaces, museums and stately homes in various parts of the country.
The clocks are made using age-old technology, brought to extreme levels of perfection and combined with new techniques, and as a result, they are capable of keeping time with superlative accuracy.

This particular design has completely exposed workings, which adds to its fascination. You could stand and watch it rotate for hours. It also has a unique polar projection, so you can see the time anywhere on the globe. Overall it is an exquisite piece of engineering - perfect for anyone who is passionate about timepieces.
Nearly three hundred years ago, a revolutionary English engineer was designing and handmaking precision clocks that were centuries ahead of their time. The original feats of science, design and beauty that one of our greatest minds, John Whitehurst, created can only be currently seen in museums, stately homes and palaces. And now, luxury Whitehurst clocks, steeped in British history and provenance, are back in commission.

The company has a long and fascinating history. In the 18th century, John Whitehurst dedicated much of his time to creating some of the most advanced timepieces in the world, in Derby, England. His career began in about 1734, and his works include the clock for Derby's town hall, thermometers, barometers and other mechanical instruments. He was an advanced and independent thinker, and his areas of research included geology, and in particular geological strata and the way in which they provide indications on the mechanisms of the world's formation. He also worked on a theory relating measures of length, capacity and weight to the measurement of time, starting from the observation that a pendulum oscillating in exactly one second is 39.125 inches long.

The Whitehurst company today retains John Whitehurst's quest for perfection and originality, along with a well-developed sense of design and beauty. Though technical advances have led to changes in technology, there is still a market for hand-made clocks of superlative quality. The new weight-driven Whitehurst timepiece has a design based on the original Y-Frame clock built in 1770, which is presently conserved at Chatsworth House. Today's version incorporates much of the original engineering found in the famous antique. It is meticulously hand built, piece-by-piece, combining advanced technology with three hundred year-old techniques.

One of the totally original features of the clock is a revolving polar projection, which tracks the earth's rotation and enables the user to see the time in different parts of the world. The intricate mechanisms of this complication are exposed and provide a visual pageant of remarkable beauty. The clock weights 18 kilograms without the stand, and it has a rare dual weight configuration. Its precision is exceptional considering the totally mechanical movement, accurate to less than a second every two months.
As with all original Whitehurst timepieces, all the parts of the clock parts are made from metal from the same foundry, and, wherever possible, cut from the same piece to enhance precision.

Some of the 18 wheels, which turn continuously, are made on machinery that has been making clock parts for hundreds of years. They have been carefully hand filed, hand polished through an eight-stage process and finished in a protective 24 carat gold to ensure a flawless result that can only be achieved by means of the company's proprietary techniques. However, new digital and computer-controlled technology, along with the latest developments in materials, have been adopted for some elements, in order to create clock parts to a standard that even John Whitehurst could only dream about.

Whitehurst Clocks are built to order at a cost of £150,000 - £200,000. Each clock takes between six to nine months to hand build and, as with all Whitehurst clocks past and present, feature the official Whitehurst trademark within the working of the clock. Family crests can be hand engraved into the workings of the clock at the client’s request. A Whitehurst craftsman installs the clock, and the customer receives an official certificate of provenance and ownership upon installation, whatever the location. A Whitehurst clock is guaranteed for life. Each piece is designed to require minimal care from the owner. Support is provided in the form of a global network of Whitehurst approved horologists.
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