Horology

17 January, 2010

Former Flinders St Station clock at Scienceworks
Former Flinders Street Railway Station Turret Clock at Scienceworks.
Image: Paoli Smith Photography Studio
Source: Museum Victoria

Question: What is horology?

Answer: Horology is the science of measuring time, and describes the theory and practice of clock- and watchmaking. The word is derived from the Greek “hora,” meaning hour or season, from which the English word “hour” is also derived.

Museum Victoria has its own Horology Collection, consisting of over 600 watches and clocks. These come from a range of time-periods; many of them were donated to Museum Victoria from significant private collections.

The Horology Collection forms a part of the Museum’s vast History & Technology Collection. While many items come from famous clock- and watchmakers overseas, recent acquisitions have focused on objects with a strong connection to Victoria and Australia.

The collection has not been displayed in its entirety since Melbourne Museum relocated from its former home in Swanston Street. Now, horological items are displayed selectively within exhibits at a number of Museum Victoria venues, including Melbourne Museum and Scienceworks.

Horology is a popular field for amateur enthusiasts who benefit from the support of a number of local and international organisations, for which some links are listed at right. Those wishing to pursue their interest in timekeeping further can do so by contacting one of these groups. If you are researching a particular timepiece, these groups can also be a good source of information. Online bulletin boards, like those of the NAWCC and Military Watch Forum, can also be a useful way of finding out information from willing enthusiasts.

Many of Museum Victoria’s classic timepieces are described online as part of the new History & Technology Collections Online website, where they can be compared with similar items across time. At this site you will also find, among other things, items connected to the fields of vinology (wine), ludology (games) and deltiology (postcards)!

Please note: Museum Victoria DOES NOT provide valuations and cannot tell you how much your object is worth. Please read our valuations infosheet for further advice. We will not publish or respond to comments asking us to value an object.

Comments (18)

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Michael Liddy 12 April, 2010 15:45
Hello. I have a rare collection of swiss watches from an American company called Benrus (who had offices in Switzerland) that I've been collecting for years. The ones I think might be of interest to you are the Sea Lord and Sky Chief chronograph models. I have about 50 of the former and 9 of the latter, including 2 sky chiefs I've never seen anywhere before. I'm writing my will and I was thinking about leaving them to MV. Is this something you'd be interested in? Best. Michael
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Discovery Centre 18 April, 2010 16:26

Hi Michael, we will contact you directly regarding your enquiry.

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Dennis Mahoney 31 May, 2010 08:29
Have Seth Thomas Boat Clock, serial #3374. Would you advise as to the date of manufacture, please? Many thanks!
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Discovery Centre 31 May, 2010 12:23

Hi Dennis, we can't provide identifications based on description. As advised in the article above, there are many resources that you can use to research your watch. Links to useful sites are provided at right. We suggest that you first contact Seth Thomas themselves as they will be the most likely source of information.

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Dave R. 27 October, 2010 16:29
I have a pocket watch made for the 1876 Centennial. It is like a souvenier watch dated 1776-1876. No name. Has like a Iron cross on back of case and the above dates and I believe C&B in the middle.When I got it about 25 years ago I wound it and it ran. Any ideas about the maker or anything else ?
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Paola 1 November, 2010 04:51
Hi from Italy. I have a cartel clock signed D.Mc Gregor Glasgow Greenock..I haven't found any news regarding this kind of clock. Any idea fromyou or anything else? Thanks very much. Paola
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Discovery Centre 2 November, 2010 14:42
Hi Paola, perhaps try checking some of the various horology links listed above, you may find some useful information about your clock.
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Discovery Centre 7 November, 2010 11:18
Hi Dave, it's hard for us to identify something without an image & you haven't specified to which Centennial you're referring but we have found a picture that sounds like the watch you have described. It seems the Longines made the movement and Cross & Beguelin made the case. They sold Swiss and American watches and were located on Maiden Lane in NY. An internet search reveals a number of resources with references to the company. The resources suggested above in the article and linked at right should help with further research.
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Summer Sanders 1 December, 2010 12:54
I have a A.W. Watham Pocket Watch with the Case# 1781310 and Model# 43330869 it has a chain that has the The Masonic Logde pendent square compass, need to know any info u can give me I cant seem to find any imformation.
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Discovery Centre 3 December, 2010 11:35
Hi Summer, perhaps try checking some of the various horology links listed above, you may find some useful information about your clock.
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Akhlesh Kumar 4 December, 2010 18:47
I have Gravity clock France Circa-1880, Could you please provide us contact details of the company or person, so that We can get spares for the same..
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Discovery Centre 9 December, 2010 14:27
Hi Akhlesh, Without knowing details of the manufacturer or distributor of your clock, it is difficult to know where to refer you. I would suggest you investigate some of the horology links given above, or speak with a local antiques specialist. All the best!  
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Tina Clutter 26 December, 2010 18:22
I have a pocket watch made for the 1876 Centennial. It is like a souvenier watch dated 1776-1876. No name. Has like a Iron cross on back of case and the above dates and I believe C&B in the middle.When I got it about 25 years ago I wound it and it ran. Any ideas about the maker or anything else ? This watch belongs to my father in law, it was paased down from his mothers grandfather. (sorry for bad leineage) How can we get some more hisorical data on watch. Thank You
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Discovery Centre 6 January, 2011 11:11

Hi Tina,

Your pocket watch sounds similar to the one from another online enquiry - see our response to Dave, 7 November 2010. This watch celebrates the centennial of the Declaration of Independence in the USA. Try the link to the photo there. We hope this is helpful to you.

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Bill Kuhn 8 May, 2011 05:37
I have a hunter style pocket watch that seems to entirely made by Charles Louis Faivre.Dial case is marked #5254.Mechanism cover has the same # engraved on it.There is also a tiny signature lightly scratched,A Cohen 4/68, on the back of the mechanism cover. I'd really like to know anything about this watch as it had been my grandfathers. Thanks
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Phil 16 July, 2011 06:51
Hello We have a gold pocket watch 375 and ald also anchor 9.and a z on the other case ithas the words Time of the Day. The sun and a Dennison watch cover Special ald 9375- 280159 and a Funder the number On the works it is Russell HanoverSt Liverpool. Also Time O'Day 17 Jewels It needs a new glass
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Liz Dax 31 July, 2011 13:53
I have a French Belgian slate drum-barrel clock. The drum barrel was smashed. Do you know where I could get another fashioned, please?
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Zoya Tchakarova 7 January, 2014 21:35
I have a Remontoir Perfectionnee Cylindres 10 rubis with serial number 28739
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