Go on, admit it, the clocks changing has caught you out at least once.
Though it happens twice a year – quite literally like clockwork – these time shifts always catch some of us off guard.
So, in honour of the clocks going forward, here are a few famous ones to help keep time at the forefront of your mind. Some are large, some are elaborate, and some are almost as old as time itself.
1. Big Ben, London
Without question the best-known time-teller in the world, Big Ben’s chimes have kept the pace of the nation since its big debut in 1859.
The clock’s bell weighs 13 tons, is accurate to within one second, and tolled through the blitz without skipping a beat. Beneath the bell lies a Latin inscription meaning, ‘O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First’.
But despite its incomparable fame, there are plenty of misconceptions about the UK’s national timepiece. The clock tower is actually called Elizabeth Tower, and the moniker ‘Big Ben’ is no more than a nickname for the bell.
2. Astronomical Clock, Prague
Everyone loves an antique, and there’s something particularly poetic about the age of a clock.
Mounted on the old Prague town hall, this monument to medieval science features a dial representing the position of sun, moon and stars, and the skeletal figure of Death striking each hour. Installed in 1410, it is thought to be the third oldest astronomical clock in existence, and the oldest to still be operational.
Sparkling splendidly after a restoration, it now looks as much like concept art representing time, as it does something to actually tell it.
3. Floral Clock, Canada
Do you remember those potato clocks you (probably) used to make at school, where you could tell the time from a display, some electrodes and an ordinary pair of spuds?
This herbaceous offering in Ontario, Canada, uses rather more attractive vegetation to create one of the most photogenic clocks around.
Consisting of 16,000 carpet bedding plants which are changed at least twice a year, it’s gone through a whole host of designs, all of which can be viewed in photo form in the small accompanying tower.
The clock probably doesn’t get all the attention it deserves – an occupational hazard of being mere moments from Niagara Falls.
4. Royal Hotel Clock Tower, Mecca
This vertiginous time-teller is a who’s who of clock-related records.
Each of the clock faces has a diameter of 43m and rises 450m from the ground – making them the largest and highest architectural clocks in existence. The accompanying tower (the Mecca Royal Clock Tower – a luxury hotel) is the third tallest building in the world, and stands just metres from Islam holy site, the Great Mosque of Mecca.
There’s one major drawback to this remarkable project – on a cloudy day, you won’t see a thing.
5. Rathaus-Glockenspiel, Munich
It’s not the biggest or oldest clock on this list, but it might just be the most intricate.
Two or three times a day (depending on the time of year), this bizarre little clock in Marienplatz marks the hour by wheeling around a series of figurines acting out scenes from local folklore. There are jousting knights, twirling courtiers, and a good 15 minutes of jangling.
Think of it as a cuckoo clock with 32 different figures and 43 bells, or a classy puppet show.
6. Cosmo Clock 21, Yokohama
Perhaps the simplest way to make an interesting clock is to make something that’s independently interesting, and then pop a digital display on it.
That seems to be the strategy behind Cosmo Clock 21 in Yokohama – which was the largest Ferris wheel in the world on its completion in 1989.
Though a fellow Japanese wheel snaffled that record just three years later, it’s now become a local landmark and after dark it lights up like a firework display. It’s a premium date place too – and for obvious reasons, it’s unwise to be late.
7. Spasskaya Tower, Moscow
What Big Ben is for the Houses of Parliament, Spasskaya Tower is for the Kremlin.
The clock itself is more journeyman than showstopper – a 6m face with an almost 3m hour hand and black-and-gold paintwork; a solid 7/10 – but the setting alone makes it a shoo-in for our list.
Have you ever been caught out by the clocks changing? Share your story in the comments section below.
– With PA
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