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date: 18 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The appearance of mechanical clocks has long been regarded as a decisive development for the emergence of the modern world. At the turn of the fourteenth century an escapement mechanism was developed from monastic alarms. The invention of an automatic hour-striking mechanism originated in Northern Italy about two generations later. Thereafter large turret clocks in all major cities sounded twenty-four hours of equal length for the urban population, and gradually rendered obsolete the unequal hours tolled from churches and abbeys. The introduction of the pendulum and the balance spring during the seventeenth century brought about a quantum leap in precision time keeping. The rise of highly differentiated clockwork manufacture enabled private individuals to acquire timepieces showing minutes and seconds. Industrial production processes, sports, and deep sea navigation benefited in many ways. Careful employment of time and punctuality became high-ranking social values.

Keywords: Clocks, watches, horological revolution, timing, scheduling, working hours, leisure, calendar reform

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