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Take a look here for answers to common clock questions!

Q. The inexpensive quartz clock that I purchased from a discount retailer makes a very loud ticking noise. Can this be fixed?

A. Inexpensive clocks and their quartz movements can make a loud "tick" every second. This distraction bothers many people, especially when in a quiet room. Some clocks only make this sound while the seconds hand is moving up the dial (ie. from the 7 o'clock position to 12 o'clock). The sound is due to the "shake" or rattling between the plastic gears inside the movement, which is often amplified by the cheap plastic case. These movements cannot generally be made to sound quieter, although sometimes removing the 'seconds' hand will help. It is best to make sure that you purchase a quality movement. The German, Japanese and American movements are the best, although the Chinese movements are improving. If you really wish to own a quiet clock, take a look at some of the Seiko ultra quiet "sweep motion" clocks available on our website. Digital clocks have no moving parts inside, so they are also totally quiet. They are also available on our website.

Q. What is the difference between a Grandfather and a Grandmother clock?

A. The term Grandmother Clock may bring to mind different clocks to different people. The common usage refers to a tallcase/longcase clock of approximately six feet in height; hence a small Grandfather Clock. A typical Grandfather Clock stands approximately six and one half to over eight feet high! In some regions, wall clocks are called Grandmother Clocks. The Clock Gallery sells all of the above types, including Granddaughter Clocks (approximately five feet in height!)

Q. Why is the incorrect Roman numeral IIII used on clocks instead of the correct numeral IV?

A. This is one of the most common questions The Clock Gallery receives. The answer is not agreed upon by all horologists, but most would accept the following facts. In Roman times, the use of IIII in place of IV was common among peasants. Sundials often used IIII to prevent confusion with the numeral VI (IV and VI, when inverted could cause confusion). In the middle ages when mechanical clocks began to appear in town centers, the same logic was used. The use of IIII has continued to this day because the use of IIII is now both traditional and an aesthetic balance to the "heavy" numeral VIII (8) on the left side of the dial. If IV were used, the right side of the dial would appear much "lighter" or more "lop-sided"; the use of IIII gives the dial better balance. So there you have it!

Q. I have been given a ship's clock but I cannot figure out it's striking pattern. It does not strike like any other clock I own. The bells seem to strike randomly. Please help.

A. You are correct, in that a mechanical ship's clock will not strike in the traditional manner. This is because the ship bell's striking pattern is based upon a four (4) hour watch/change of shift duty. The clock will run through it's sequence of 1-8 bells every four hours, and then repeat. For example at 12:00 noon the clock will strike 8 bells (instead of the standard clock's 12) signifying the end/start of a new duty shift. The clock will then strike 1 bell at 12:30; 2 bells at 13:00 hours (1:00 p.m.); 3 bells at 13:30 hours, 4 bells at 14:00 hours etc....until it reaches 16:00 hours which is the end/start of a new shift. The clock will then strike 1 bell at 16:30; 2 bells at 17:00 etc. ...until 20:00 hours (8 p.m.). Therefore the clock is striking 8 bells at every 00:00, 04:00, 08:00, 12:00, 16:00, 20:00 hours.

An interesting bit of trivia concerning the above striking pattern is that a traditional clock which strikes the actual number count at each hour, with a single strike at every half-hour, will be in sync with the ship's clock at 00:30, 04:30, 08:30; 12:30, 16:30; 20:30 hours, with each clock striking only once. At 08:00 and 20:00 hours (8 p.m.), both clock strike 8 times!


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The Clock Gallery
Lansdowne Centre,  846-5300 No.3 Road,  Richmond,   BC,  V6X 2X9   Canada
Tel: 604 278-1631   Fax: n/a