“One of Vienna’s oldest buildings with foundations dating back to the Middle Ages stands close to Judenplatz, at no. 2 Schulhof. Since 1921, time here has been chopped into little pieces, hidden away in pictures, transformed into cuckoo calls and mechanical music, swung to and fro in pendulums’ movements and announced by means of bizarre automata.” Gerhard Roth
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE VIENNA MUSEUM OF CLOCKS AND WATCHES
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE VIENNA MUSEUM OF CLOCKS AND WATCHES
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE VIENNA MUSEUM OF CLOCKS AND WATCHES
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE VIENNA MUSEUM OF CLOCKS AND WATCHES
Publisher: Wolfgang Kos Authors of the German original: Wolfgang Freitag, Rupert Kerschbaum, Sylvia Mattl-Wurm, Eva-Maria Orosz, Peter Stuiber English translation: Vera Ribarich Final editing: Angela Parker Production: Regina Karner Graphic design: fuhrer, Vienna An in-house publication of Wien Museum Printed by: Holzhausen Druck GmbH, Vienna Copyright: 2010 Wien Museum ISBN 978-3-902312-23-5
Vienna Museum of Clocks and Watches Schulhof 2 1010 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43-1-533 22 65 www.wienmuseum.at
Photographs of clocks and watches: Paul Kolp Fotostudio Otto p. 24–25, 29, 46–47, 56–57, 81 Peter Kainz p. 97 Other photographs: Wien Museum p. 9, 10, 16, 17, 18, 20 Didi Sattmann p. 14 Paul Kolp p. 18
Cover illustrations: Front: Astronomical clock (movement), c. 1762–1769 David a. S. Cajetano (Rutschmann), Vienna (No. 10_40) Back: Figural clock with oriental motifs, c. 1800 Austria (No. 13_40)
Foreword Wolfgang Kos
Three storeys of timekeeping From private collection to museum – a historical outline Rupert Kerschbaum and Sylvia Mattl-Wurm
“My watches make it hard for me to die” Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach: the writer as watch collector Eva-Maria Orosz
“To me, clocks are living beings” Rupert Kerschbaum, Chief Curator of the Vienna Museum of Clocks and Watches, in conversation with Peter Stuiber
Floor plan of the museum
Clocks and Watches 1– 40 Wolfgang Freitag
A city map of Vienna dating from 1547 already shows the building at the address Schulhof 2/Kurrentgasse 1 which today houses Vienna’s Museum of Clocks and Watches. At the time the map was published, the building belonged to a baker. Many other users followed, and two storeys were added, before it was eventually purchased by the City of Vienna in 1901. Coming here to admire its collection of splendid timepieces, visitors approach this historic building through narrow, winding lanes reminiscent of the medieval street pattern. The picturesquely housed Museum is a must-see item on the Vienna sightseeing itinerary for visiting clock and watch lovers from all over the world. The Museum of Clocks and Watches is a specialised museum in the cultural history field which is managed under the organisational umbrella of Wien Museum. In addition to the main building on Karlsplatz, the Wien Museum group includes former composers’ apartments, the Roman Museum and the Prater Museum. The collections of the City of Vienna are rich and varied, comprising major works of art as well as urban history objects from the sphere of politics and everyday private life, from the arts and crafts, as well as the world of fashion. The main focus is on Vienna, but some special collections have been assembled from a European perspective. Among the latter are the holdings of the Museum of Clocks and Watches, which owes its existence to the expertise and enthusiasm of a private collector, the mathematician and secondary school teacher Rudolf Kaftan. In the early 20th century he persuaded the City of Vienna to take an interest in his “strange realm”. Kaftan’s collection of clocks and watches has been open to the public since 1921; though later acquisitions have been added, it still forms the backbone of the Museum’s holdings. Interesting facts about Kaftan and his extraordinary historical 6
timepieces have been included in this book in an essay by Rupert Kerschbaum and Sylvia MattlWurm. After decades of existence as a lovingly managed, crammed eldorado for horology buffs, the Museum was reorganised in the 1960s and its collection displayed according to modern museum standards for the first time. More recently, the facade and entrance area have been unobtrusively remodelled. Care was taken to preserve the special atmosphere of an unusual museum in one of the finest old houses in historic Vienna. Proceeding through a rich succession of extraordinary timepieces, a tour of the Museum is a journey through the history of horology, clock- and watchmaking. A wide variety of timepieces await expert visitors and laypeople alike: from the giant clock movement taken from the tower of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which for centuries marked the hours for the Viennese, to tiny miracles of miniaturisation. Typically Viennese clocks, such as the Laterndluhr (“lantern clock”) or the picture clocks with eyecatching Biedermeier landscape paintings are displayed side by side with fine examples of the horologist’s art from elsewhere in Europe, notably Paris and Geneva. Sandglasses and sundials, late medieval tower clocks and astronomical clocks are on display on the first floor, as are important bracket and carriage clocks and pocket watches in Empire Style. Walking up another floor, the visitor finds clocks from the first half of the 19th century: desk clocks from the time of the Congress of Vienna, the famous Viennese miniature pendulum clocks (“Zappler”), and typical examples of the splendid long-case and wall-mounted clocks of the Biedermeier era. The top floor holds timepieces from the historicist and art nouveau periods, as well as cuckoo clocks and other popular designs.
In addition to 19th and 20th century pocket watches, this floor also contains a collection of 200 wristwatches. Mantel clocks, picture clocks and musical clocks, many of them combined with moving automata, are also on display here. The timepieces in the Museum of Clocks and Watches are not “dead” artefacts; they work and even play music. The tunes of the musical “flute clocks” – the music for one of which was composed by Joseph Haydn – have also been recorded on CD. A piece of useful information in this context: the famous flute clock with tunes composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is on display at Mozarthaus Vienna, in the composer’s former apartment on Schulgasse. The 40 highlights from the Museum of Clocks and Watches presented in this book illustrate the evolution of horology over several centuries, comprising precious objects of the highest value as well as rare and curious pieces. The present publication is a sequel to “100 x Vienna – Highlights from the Wien Museum Karlsplatz”, which showcases the holdings of the main house of the Wien Museum group, from an Iron Age moon idol to the modernist art of Klimt and Loos. The true horological sensations are behind the dials, where sophisticated designs bear witness to the superb skills of international and Viennese master craftsmen. This is why the running of the Museum of Clocks and Watches has traditionally been placed in the hands of a professional clock- and watchmaker with special expertise in restoration work. For many years now, Rupert Kerschbaum and Maria Goiser have worked to keep their treasures alive and ticking, and to educate the public about their technical intricacies. In a conversation with Peter Stuiber, Director Kerschbaum gives some insights into the unusual profession of a horological curator. His selection of 40 outstanding timepieces comes
with detailed technical descriptions, as well as information from an artistic and cultural-historical perspective, reflecting the fact that growing attention has been paid to design aspects since the end of Kaftan’s era, which focussed almost exclusively on the technical side of clock- and watchmaking. That field has been covered mainly by Eva-Maria Orosz, who also penned the portrait of the writer and enthusiastic watch collector Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach. The 40 texts that accompany the horological highlights owe their existence to the profound writing skills of Wolfgang Freitag, who not only makes specialist knowledge accessible to the interested layperson, but also tells us stories that go “beyond hours and minutes” to reveal broader insights into the lives of the former owners of the timepieces. The information he offers on historical, cultural and economic contexts draws on the fact that clocks and watches reflect different cultures and ways to conceptualise, measure and structure time. The production of this book has been coordinated by Regina Karner and Peter Stuiber, and Stefan and Aleksandra Fuhrer contributed the elegant graphic design. The translation into English has been prepared by Vera Ribarich, with additional research by Georg Furtner and final editing by Angela Parker. Horological expert Fortunat Mueller-Maerki kindly reviewed the glossary. I hope that this book will not only give its readers an impression of Central Europe’s most important collection of clocks and watches, but also provide them with an overview of the enormous diversity and high art of horology.
Wolfgang Kos Director, Wien Museum 7
Three storeys of timekeeping From private collection to museum – a historical outline Rupert Kerschbaum and Sylvia Mattl-Wurm
The Vienna Museum of Clocks and Watches is often said to have its own special atmosphere. Happening to be there on the hour, you will be treated to the sound of striking and chiming clocks, some of them even playing little tunes. Nearly 700 timepieces are on display in the Museum, which is housed in a Baroque building. The exhibits are grouped in broadly chronological order, most of them in working order and set to show the correct time. Historically, the Museum evolved out of a private collection, as did most specialised museums in Vienna. Rudolf Kaftan, a secondary school teacher of physics and mathematics, had accumulated an impressive hoard of clocks and watches which he kept in the attic of the building in Billrothstraße where he lived. On October 29, 1916, the daily Wiener Extrablatt carried an article headed “The homeless collector” in which the collection was graphically described as a “strange realm, the likes of which have scarcely been seen before.” The paper reported that it contained “clocks and watches wherever one looks. Large and small, made from iron or wood, rusting or polished ... Many, many hundreds, nay thousands of timepieces, standing next to each other, hanging over each other, crammed into every little bit of free space on the wall or elsewhere ...” Born in Haslach, Upper Austria, in 1870, Rudolf Kaftan lived and worked in Vienna. Over the years, he acquired about 10,000 objects of horological interest – clocks and watches, movements and component parts. His possessions included 234 wooden clocks built after 1680, twelve large tower clock movements (15th to 19th century), 412 wall and table clocks, including a number of musical clocks, 1,456 verge watches, 970 cylinder and remontoire watches as well as some 800 lever watches. 8
As the owner of the building planned to demolish it, securing a safe haven for the collection became an increasingly pressing problem. Kaftan was busily working on several fronts to bring off a sale to a public authority. He approached the City of Budapest, whose officials expressed great interest in buying his collection and establishing a horological museum there; at the same time, he also held negotiations with the City of Vienna and its Mayor Richard Weisskirchner. No time was to be lost. World War One was still raging when a compromise was finally struck: the City would buy Kaftan’s collection and establish a separate department for it in its “Municipal Collections”. Kaftan’s horological hoard would thus become the backbone of the Vienna Museum of Clocks and Watches, which was yet to be founded. Rudolf Kaftan received only 10% of the purchase price of 200,000 Kronen right away, but in return, he did not have to part with his treasures. He was appointed Director of the new Museum with a salary of 6,000 Kronen per year (plus annual payments of 5,000 Kronen for 20 years) and an apartment in the Museum building. The city administration soon found a suitable building for the planned museum, as the Wiener Extrablatt reported on May 13, 1917. It stood in the oldest quarter of Vienna, near the “Am Hof” square, in close proximity to the seat of the clockand watchmakers’ guild – an ideal location, as the Museum was also intended as a training centre for the guild’s apprentices. Several years passed before the Museum of Clocks and Watches finally opened on May 31, 1921, and the public was granted access to the former Kaftan collection. The Museum’s holdings had meanwhile been enlarged through a number of acquisitions, most notably writer Marie von
Rudolf Kaftan (right) gives a radio interview in the Museum of Clocks and Watches, 1931.
Rudolf Kaftan’s collection, c. 1916. Kaftan kept it on the attic floor of a private sanatorium owned by Professor Heinrich Obersteiner in Billrothstraße in Vienna’s Döbling district.
Ebner-Eschenbach’s collection of 270 precious pocket and pendant watches, about 100 mantel and table clocks from a factory-owner named Gustav Leiner, and another 400 timepieces previously owned by watchmaker and collector Josef Nicolaus. In those early years, visits to the Museum could be made by appointment only. We can see from pictures and descriptions of the collection from the 1930s and 1950s that Rudolf Kaftan maintained the character of his private collection in the Museum of Clocks and Watches over many decades. The Museum was his opus magnum, horology his main interest in life; he took visitors on innumerable guided tours of the Museum and gave public lectures at the nearby “Urania” and other educational institutions, as well as on the radio. All these activities, which are scrupulously documented in newspaper clippings in the Museum’s archive, made the Museum very popular. In its tenth anniversary year in 1931, Director Kaftan welcomed the 30,000th visitor and gave the 2,000th guided tour of the Museum; both events were duly reported in the local press. After Kaftan died in 1961, steps were taken to give the Museum a complete overhaul and present its holdings in keeping with more modern principles of museum organisation. In the years 1962–1964, the Museum building was renovated,
including some structural alterations. Originally built in the late medieval/early modern period, it had been bought in 1690 by Ferdinand Marchese degli Obizzi, commander of the town guard, who had two storeys added and refashioned the building’s interior and exterior in the Baroque style. This is how we still find it today, with Baroque facade and interiors. The 1960s modernisation plans foresaw a presentation of the Museum’s holdings in chronological order, highlighting individual objects. And this is how the Museum, which has been slightly enlarged since, is still organised today: ascending through its three floors, visitors can trace the chronological development of mechanical clocks and watches up to the present, including some fully electronic timepieces. To make the Museum even more attractive, another alteration was carried out in 2000 according to plans by the architects Renate Prewein and Markus Eiblmayr. Display windows and showcases were added to “open up” the ground floor of the building, the lobby was enlarged, and a room added for special displays and events. In the course of the works, a former latrine was discovered. Probably dating from the 17th century, it is one of very few such structures that have been documented by research in Vienna. 9
Painted by Julius Schmid in 1894, this picture shows Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach sitting at her desk.
“My watches make it hard for me to die” Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach: the writer as watch collector Eva-Maria Orosz
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830–1916) is regarded as one of the most important Germanlanguage writers of the 19th century. She earned her reputation mainly as the author of novels and novellas that combined social criticism and psychological insight. Experts in the watchmaking and art trading worlds also knew her as a collector of watches. With her novella Lotti, die Uhrmacherin (“Lotti the watchmaker”), she paid tribute to a craft which she admired and in which she had also received training, enabling her to repair and take care of her watches herself. The literary homage by Ebner-Eschenbach, who as a baroness was a member of the nobility, was received with gratitude by the association of clock- and watchmakers, of which she became something of a figurehead. On the occasion of her 70th birthday the writer was made an honorary member of the association,1 and from 1908 she was also the patron of its new flag.2 Continuing her special attachment to the watchmaking profession beyond the grave, the writer bequeathed an annual stipend of 1,200 Kronen to the association.3 Her valuable and famous collection of 270 pocket watches dating from the 16th to the 19th century was purchased for the Vienna Museum of Clocks and Watches in 1917. Although the collection was greatly reduced in the upheavals of World War Two, the 47 surviving watches still constitute a fascinating group of timepieces of outstanding quality, which are on display in a special room in the Museum. Two of them are described in greater detail in this catalogue (no. 12_40, p. 50 and no. 14_40, p. 54). Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach had a penchant for beautiful watches. She liked to buy pocket and
pendant watches with elaborately designed cases and precious decorations such as intricate enamel painting in lush colours, delicate pearls and glittering diamonds. Despite showering praise on the collection as a whole, some early 20th century horologists also sounded a more critical note. Experts with an exclusively technical interest argued that Ebner-Eschenbach had collected watches for their beauty4 only and claimed that not all the pieces in her collection were worthy of a museum’s attention.5 Rudolf Kaftan, the founder and long-term director of the Museum of Clocks and Watches, opined peremptorily that EbnerEschenbach saw watches “from a truly womanly standpoint. She was more interested in their design and artistic execution than in the construction of the movement. As a collector, she acted mainly as an art lover, an aesthete and an aristocrat.”6
A collector with technical expertise In actual fact, however, Ebner-Eschenbach was not only interested in the aesthetic appeal of her treasures, but was a collector with great technical expertise. She had received practical training in watchmaking7 and acquired a rich fund of historical knowledge over five decades of pursuing her interest. She was familiar with the history of horology and the names of the master craftsmen, and her technical know-how even extended to every type of escapement then in use. She gave some idea of her expertise and told a number of entertaining anecdotes in Meine Uhrensammlung (“My watch collection”), an essay she wrote in 1895 about how her collection
of pocket and pendant watches had come into being.8 The Ebner-Eschenbach collection not only reflects the history of technical progress, however, but also illustrates how fashions and tastes changed over the course of time. Moreover, it gives us a vivid impression of the skills of the case-makers, enamellers, jewellers and goldsmiths who played an important role in shaping the outside appearance of the watches. Pendant watches – in the shape of an apple or a violin, for example – were first and foremost ornaments, their timekeeping function relegated to second place. Their fascination lay in the originality of the design and its immaculate execution; the movements were not nearly as important and hardly ever technically innovative. In this respect, Ebner-Eschenbach’s collection was somewhat similar to that of Therese Bloch-Bauer9, which contained another, at least equally superb selection of 18th and 19th century form watches.
Acquisition by the City of Vienna “My dear watches, they make it hard for me to die. Who else is going to treat them so well?”10 Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach had stipulated in her will that the collection was to be sold and that half the proceeds should go towards the establishment of a kindergarten in the Moravian town of Zdislavice/Zdislawitz, where she was born.11 Would-be buyers of the world-famous watches appeared on the scene fast enough, and the danger of a sale abroad or complete fragmentation of the collection by traders loomed large. In this situation, the idea of securing the precious artefacts for a museum was first voiced, with Vienna’s Technical Museum of Industry and Commerce being proposed as the
recipient institution.12 Ebner-Eschenbach herself had strongly wished her collection to remain in Vienna, where she had lived from 1863 to her death in 1916. The City of Vienna having decided on May 4, 1917, to buy the horological collection of Rudolf Kaftan and establish a Museum of Clocks and Watches, Ebner-Eschenbach’s nephew, Count Viktor Dubsky, offered to sell his aunt’s collection to the City too. But it soon became clear that purchasing the 270 watches from municipal funds would be impossible. To solve the funding problem, an Association of Friends of the Museum was founded and appeals for donations placed in the daily papers. Two leading industrialists – Baron Skoda, a cannon manufacturer, and Bernhard Wetzler, who was in the canned-food business – plus a third sponsor who preferred to remain anonymous finally raised the asking price of 301,000 Kronen, so that on September 13, 1917, the City Council was able to adopt a resolution to acquire the famous watch collection of the late Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach for the Museum of Clocks and Watches.13 While the months-long acquisition process was still underway and the outcome of the negotiations and efforts was as yet uncertain, the writer’s watch collection was already being presented to the public, first at the Austrian Museum for the Arts and Industry, then at the Technical Museum. On November 9, 1917, after the deal had been closed, a triumphant Clock Museum Director Rudolf Kaftan turned up at the latter to take the precious prize away with him. Kaftan had borrowed a truck and a few firemen from the fire brigade commander to transport the iron chest that held the collection to his Museum of Clocks and Watches. “You pillager,” the Director of the Technical Museum is reported to have exclaimed, “so you
really want to carry away the watches?” – After all, the Technical Museum had also expressed an interest in buying the collection.14 A full week later, on November 16, 1917, Kaftan – having grown rather restive in the interim – finally received the key that unlocked the iron chest. After a commission had inspected the collection yet again, it was
officially and definitively handed over to him. Following the purchase of Kaftan’s own collection, which had laid the foundation for the museum, the Ebner-Eschenbach watch collection was the second major acquisition of the City of Vienna’s fledgling Museum of Clocks and Watches.
3 4 5 6
Uhrenmuseum Wien, catalogue, Vienna 1989, p. 60. “Die Fahnenweihe der Wiener Uhrmachergenossenschaft”, in: Österreichisch-Ungarische Uhrmacher-Zeitung, June 1908, p. 27f. Uhrmacher-Fachblatt, Year 5, No. 9, September 1916, p. 54. “Kostbare Uhren”, in: Volks-Zeitung, May 31, 1918. “Die Uhrensammlung der Ebner-Eschenbach”, in: Wiener Tagblatt, October 15, 1916. Rudolf Kaftan, “Wie die Uhrensammlung Marie Ebner-Eschenbachs für Wien gerettet wurde. Zum hundertsten Geburtstag der Dichterin”, in: Neues Wiener Journal, September 15, 1930, p. 3f. Alexander Grosz, “Marie Ebner von Eschenbach. Ehrenmitglied der Uhrmacher-Genossenschaft zu ihrem 100. Geburtstage”, in: Der Uhrmacher. Alleiniges offizielles Organ des Reichsfachverbandes der Uhrmacher Oesterreichs, Year 3, No. 17, 1930, p. 341. She was probably trained by master watchmaker Ignaz Hartl at Sorbaitgasse 4, in Vienna’s 15th district. Information kindly provided by Rupert Kerschbaum. Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, “Meine Uhrensammlung”, in: Velhagen & Klasings Monatshefte, Year 10, Vol. 5, January 1896, p. 531-540.
Elisabeth Sturm-Bednarczyk, Phantasie-Uhren. Kostbarkeiten des Kunsthandwerks aus der Sammlung Therese Bloch-Bauer, Vienna 2002. Alexander Grosz, “Marie Ebner von Eschenbach. Ehrenmitglied der Uhrmacher-Genossenschaft zu ihrem 100. Geburtstage”, in: Der Uhrmacher. Alleiniges offizielles Organ des Reichsfachverbandes der Uhrmacher Oesterreichs, Year 3, No. 17, 1930, p. 341f. Rudolf Kaftan, Gewinnung der Uhrensammlung der Frau Baronin Ebner-Eschenbach für das Uhren-Museum der Stadt Wien durch den Unterzeichneten. Archive of the Vienna Museum of Clocks and Watches. Richard Edler v. Schickh, in: Fremden-Blatt, November 30, 1916, p. 11. Franz M. Scharinger/Robert Waissenberger, “Das Wiener Uhrenmuseum. Anmerkungen zur Entstehung der Sammlung”, in: Uhrenmuseum Wien, catalogue, Vienna 1989, p. 9. Rudolf Kaftan, “Wie die Uhrensammlung Marie Ebner-Eschenbachs für Wien gerettet wurde. Zum hundertsten Geburtstag der Dichterin”, p. 4, in: Neues Wiener Journal, September 15, 1930, p. 3f.
Watchman’s clock, Austria (?), 1st half of the 15th century
Height: 55 cm, width: 20 cm, depth: 18 cm Movement: weight-driven movement with rope-suspended weights, mounted on a frame made of forged strip iron; the bearings for the main wheel and escape wheel are fixed by wedges on the sides; verge-and-foliot escapement, ceramic figures on the foliot date from the 1st half of the 17th century; hourly alarm mechanism with a small bell; the alarm is wound with a fixed handle and triggered by pins (now missing) on the hour wheel; single hour hand; duration: twelve hours. Inv. no. U 785 Purchased as part of the Rudolf Kaftan collection, 1917
A look back into an era when only very few towns could afford a tower clock – and even if they could, it was possibly one without a striking mechanism. In those days, it was the watchman who not only kept a lookout for signs of fire or approaching enemies from the town’s highest tower, but who also signalled the passing of the hours to the town inhabitants. For this purpose, the watchman had a wall-mounted clock in his room high up in the tower. Whenever it indicated that a full hour had passed, the watchman would go and sound the big tower bell, striking the correct number of hours, or he would blow his horn. The watchman’s clocks were simple and robust timepieces whose accuracy was quite sufficient for the needs of medieval life: gaining or losing a quarter or half an hour per day was nothing to worry about in an era when mechanical clocks were still fitted with an hour hand only. To correct for the inevitably accumulating error, sundials – and for longer overcast periods, large sandglasses – were used. Although watchman’s clocks of this type were in widespread use, only few of them have survived over the centuries: they were objects of everyday use, not prized collectors’ items; once damaged or dysfunctional, they were as a rule dismantled and the metal melted down. Thus, items of medieval mass production have today become rare antiques. However rare, the item described here could be returned to active service at any time: it functions today as it did five centuries ago.
Tower clock movement from St. Stephen’s Cathedral, 1699 Joachim Oberkircher, Vienna
Height: 222 cm, width: 222 cm, depth: 150 cm Movement: weight-driven forged iron movement with rope-suspended stone weights (approx. 40 kg), recoil anchor escapement, hour strike train with count wheel; the strike train is released via a lever and a pin; another (now broken) lever and a small bell (missing) reminded the watchman to ring the quarter-hours. To set the time, a release catch was opened to allow direct manipulation of the motion work. Wheels on top of the going train served as transmission to four dials on the outside of the tower. The teeth of the intermediate wheel and escape wheel could be removed in pairs or singly by opening the fastening screws. Weight: about 700 kg, hour and minute indicators, duration eight to twelve hours. Inv. no. U 3043 Donation from a private collection to the City of Vienna’s collections, 1903
In the 14th century they started to conquer Europe: big mechanical clocks on church towers and the secular watchtowers of the towns began to divide the day into hours of equal length – at least, that was the theory; in practice, the clockworks of the time were rather coarse constructions and needed constant correction. When a new clockwork made by Joachim Oberkircher was mounted in the southern tower of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna’s central church, in 1699, it was the fourth of its kind, but the first which drove both hour and minute hands on its four dials, one on each side of the tower. This was what St. Stephen's looked like for hundreds of years, well into the 19th century, when the tip of the tower began to lean dangerously from the vertical, tilting in a northeasterly direction. The first repair effort failed, as did a second attempt in the 1840s. By the 1860s, the situation had become so critical that the entire pyramidal spire structure had to be removed. For years to come, St. Stephen’s tower would remain a stump. To further increase safety, the clockwork, whose weights and wheels, dials and hands added up to a weight of several tonnes, was also removed, never to be replaced by another in the southern tower. Some say that this was mainly due to the additional cost which a new clockwork would have entailed. Shortly thereafter, the southern tower was restored to its full glory under the management of Friedrich Schmidt, whose name is also well known in connection with the classicist architecture of Vienna’s Ringstraße boulevard. The last clockwork, however, was sold for scrap – luckily, it was preserved, and a hundred years later was donated by its then owner to take the only place where it rightfully belongs outside the cathedral tower: at the heart of the permanent exhibition in the Vienna Museum of Clocks and Watches.
Pocket sundial, mid-18th century Andreas Vogler, Augsburg
Height: 70 mm, length: 70 mm Case: engraved brass dial with compass set into the dial-plate and hinged, cusped hour ring. Degrees of latitude for several cities are engraved on the back: Augsburg, Paris 48; Cracau, Prag (Kraków, Prague) 50; Leipzig, Cöln (Cologne) 51; London, Amsterdam 52, signed: “And. Vogl”. Inv. no. U 3074 Donation, 1967
Exposing a rod to the sun’s rays so that its shadow will tell us the time of day: this simple method is doubtlessly one of the oldest ways of measuring time. Notably, however, the sundial experienced another heyday in an epoch that saw the ascendancy of a much later and more “modern” development, the mechanical clock. In the 15th and 16th century, sundial making grew into a major industry in the German cities of Nuremberg and later Augsburg, with portable sundials accounting for a considerable share of the production output and repute of the local dial-makers. Sundials remained in service for centuries, not least because they were used to correct the errors of the mechanical clocks, which were frequently still lacking in accuracy. Completely unrelated to the clockmaker’s craft, the profession of dial-maker arose out of the art of compass-making. It is therefore no surprise that the first guild of sundial-makers was formed in Nuremberg by a group of 20 compass-makers. A striking feature of this Augsburg sundial is that it can not only be aligned precisely along the north-south meridian with the help of the in-built compass (the most elementary precondition for its functioning), but can also be used at different latitudes. The mechanics permit accurate time readings at latitudes ranging from 10 to 80 degrees north – which should have been good enough for even the most avid 18th century traveller.
Astronomical clock, c. 1762–1769 David a. S. Cajetano (Rutschmann), Vienna
Case: wooden case with glazing on all four sides Height: 265 cm, width: 77 cm, depth: 49 cm Dial and indicators: silvered brass dials with engraving and cast decorations, steel and gilt-brass hands, signed and dated on the front dial: “Fr. David a. S. Cajetano – Augustini Discalc Invenit et Fecit, Viennae”, “1769”. Auxiliary dials on the main front face, starting with the bottom dial and proceeding clockwise: (1) time of day with hour and minute hands; (2) sidereal position of the planet Mercury (period of rotation: 87 days, 23 hours, 14 minutes and 4 seconds); (3) day of the week; (4) sidereal motion of the moon with indication of days it takes the moon to reach a lunar node; (5) sidereal position of Jupiter (period of rotation: 11 years, 314 days, 22 hours); (6) epacts, indiction and golden number; (7) sidereal position of Saturn (period of rotation: 29 years, 167 days and 22 hours); additionally, a double-ended hand indicates the precession of the equinoxes, i.e. the variation in the position of the earth’s rotational axis that causes the shift of the equinoctial points; duration of a full revolution of this hand: 20,904 years; (8) dominical letter and solar cycle; (9) sidereal position of Mars (period of rotation: 1 year, 321 days, 23 hours, 31 minutes and 56 seconds); (10) synodic period of the moon, i.e. age of the moon (29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes); (11) moon 44
anomaly, i.e. angular distance of the moon from its apogee; period of rotation: 27 days, 13 hours, 16 minutes and 35 seconds; (12) sidereal position of Venus (period of rotation: 224 days, 16 hours, 48 minutes). Upper front dials: “Bohemian” or “Italian hours”; the dragon hand, sun hand and moon discs indicate the times of solar and lunar eclipses. Two round apertures on the sides, one showing the size of a lunar eclipse and the other a blue and golden sphere that indicates the lunar phase. Main dial ring: days, months, signs of the zodiac, lunar nodes, full moon and new moon; a doubleended hand with the inscribed letters “A” and “P” indicates the apogee and perigee of the moon, and a combination of central and peripheral numerals permits readings of the accurate time in 83 different places, according to their respective geographical longitude. Four small circular apertures show the current year, up to 9999. Rear face: perpetual calendar, hour, minute and, indicated by a gilded minute hand, the true solar time for Vienna. Movement: brass and steel going train, weight-driven movement with a 26 kg lead weight, Graham escapement, seconds pendulum, duration approx. 32 days. Inv. no. U 435 Purchased from Zwettl Abbey, 1928
The whole universe, enclosed in a clock. And indeed, the seemingly innumerable wheels which interconnect in the gear trains of the “Cajetano clock” – some 150 in all, says one who has held each of them in his hands – reflect our concept of the cosmos: an intricate clockwork that keeps turning and moving, following an inexplicable momentum. From the very first beginnings of clockmaking, astronomy affected the development of the clockmakers’ profession. And vice versa, it was the mechanics of clocks which soon came to determine our ideas about the heavens and what is going on there. The makers of astronomical instruments were among the earliest members of the new craft in the 14th century, and not a few of them pursued their research in monasteries. One of those whom a religious order gave an opportunity for higher learning was David Rutschmann (1726–1796), the son of a carpenter from the Black Forest. A joiner by profession, Rutschmann entered the Order of the Discalced Augustinians in 1754 and henceforth called himself Frater David a Sancto Cajetano. He proceeded to study mathematics, mechanics and astronomy in Vienna and applied his insights to the work on his astronomical clock, which was destined for his monastery in Vienna. On March 21, 1769 he handed over his amazing creation to his abbot. Cajetano had succeeded in building an incomparably complex and precious machine, and he left posterity to marvel at how he translated brilliant astronomical understanding at the highest level of his time into an amazing work of outstanding craftsmanship.
Astronomical clock, c. 1810/15 Michael Krofitsch, Leutschach
Case: wooden case with inlay work and gluedon, painted paper details Height: 280 cm, width: 118 cm, depth: 58 cm Dial and indicators: cardboard with glued-on paper, brass hands. Indications in the crown piece dial: minutes and hours; a disc shows the correct time for several places at different longitudes. Main cabinet, upper part: (1) indiction, (2) planetary ruler for the year, (3) Uranus, (4) Jupiter, (5) Ceres, (6) Vesta, (7) Mars, (8) Mercury, (9) Venus, (10) Juno, (11) Pallas, (12) Saturn, (13) apogee and perigee, lunar orbit, ascending and descending lunar nodes and the corresponding solar and lunar eclipses; the hand with the sun effigy symbolises the solar year. Dials in the middle of the cabinet: (14) Jewish calendar, (15) Jewish leap year, (16) canonical hours and vigils, (17) Turkish leap year, (18) Turkish calendar. Lower left-hand dial: (19) Russian calendar, variation of sunrise and sunset in the northern and southern hemisphere, Persian calendar, (20) regular and leap years, (21) horizontal solar parallax, (22) position of the earth in the Copernican system, (23) length of day and night. Lower right-hand dial: (24) Gregorian calendar, equation of time, French revolutionary calendar, (25) duration of moonlight, (26) sunrise and sunset, (27) distance between earth and sun, (28) position of the sun according to the Tychonic system. Bottom row of dials: (29) dominical letter, (30) solar cycle, (31) age and phase of the moon, size of the visible part of the moon, distance between moon and sun, (32) epacts, (33) golden number. Movement: iron movement with several brass wheels, duration three months (originally constructed for one-year duration) Inv. no. U 986 Purchased from private owner, 1925
An altarpiece for time: it might be regarded as a very worldly endeavour, an idolisation of the hours and minutes which most see as quite mundane measures. But the man who built a clock in the shape of a triptych was a cleric: Michael Krofitsch, born 1755 in Leutschach and dean there from 1790, pursued his interest in mathematics and astronomy alongside his pastoral duties. Essentially an autodidact, he packed a wealth of knowledge into his work which is astounding even today. Going far beyond the measuring and indicating of time, the complex machinery of his clock encapsulated the whole of creation. And it is to creation, not to time, that Krofitsch built his altarpiece. The means which he employed to grasp it point to the efforts of the enthusiastic amateur. Cardboard chapter rings, paper stuck on with glue, handwriting, corrected and patched up in places: this is not the highest clockmaker’s art of the time but personal passion, concerned more with content than outward appearances. And this content is truly amazing – not only how the clockwork’s gears were devised, but also what the maker found worthy of showing: besides the most complex positions of planets, he also included the calendars of different cultures and faiths, even the new calendar of the French Revolution. Based on a system of ten-day weeks, it had been introduced in France in 1793 by decree of the National Convent. And although the experimental Republican Calendar was abolished again in 1806, it is still there on the clock from the little Austrian village of Leutschach.
Musical clock (“flute clock”), c. 1815 Anton Bayer, Vienna
Case: wooden case with giltbrass mounts, four alabaster pillars Height: 51 cm, width: 56 cm, depth: 33 cm Dial and indicators: enamel chapter ring, gilt-brass engineturned centre disc, hands for hour, minute and month. Movement: brass movement with Viennese grande sonnerie on bells, recoil anchor movement, thread-suspended pendulum, signed: “Anton Bayer in Wien”, duration 30 hours Spring-driven musical mechanism with 22 pipes and bellows, three tunes Inv. no. U 3066 Purchased from private owner, 1967
Joseph Haydn composed no fewer than 32 pieces of music for this strange instrument: the so-called flute clock, a combination of timepiece and miniature organ, plays music at a preset time, the melody controlled by a tune barrel fitted with pins. The history of the musical clock began long before Haydn’s time, though. As early as the 16th century, bell chimes were a widely known and popular way of making music “by the clock”. In 1738, the French inventor Jacques de Vaucanson presented an automatic flute player with a repertoire of twelve tunes in Paris. His invention was based on a mechanical barrel that could move laterally in addition to the normal rotation. Thirty years later, Frederick the Great of Prussia founded a workshop for flute and harpsichord clocks in Berlin, and the great era of the flute clock began. Joseph Haydn was joined by other leading composers, such as Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, in supplying works for the musical automata. While Mozart, writing to his wife Constanze, disparaged the sound of the small flute clock pipes as “too childish”, this did not prevent him from writing three compositions for “organ works” or “organ barrel”. They were probably commissioned by one Count Joseph Deym von Střitez, who used them for musical entertainment in his cabinet of curiosities, which delighted visitors with copies of classical statues as well as wax images of famous contemporary figures. Today, the tune barrels of antique flute clocks provide some insight into how sheet music was interpreted in times long past – especially what tempo to imagine when the composer called for andante or allegretto.
Picture clock showing Emperor Franz I sitting at the desk in his office in the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, 1830 Painted by Carl Ludwig Hoffmeister, Vienna
Height: 64 cm, width: 80 cm, depth: 15 cm Painting: oil on sheet iron, signed in the lower right-hand corner: “C. L. Hoffmeister pinx Wien 1830”, small enamel dial Movement: missing Inv. no. U 3212 Purchased from private owner by the City of Vienna’s Collections, 1901
The man we see here sitting in his office, a serious expression on his face, is “the good Emperor Franz”: composer Joseph Haydn’s Kaiserlied of 1797, a “people’s anthem” with lyrics written by Lorenz Leopold Haschka, made the epithet stick forever with the lines “May God preserve Emperor Franz, our good Emperor Franz!” At that time, the monarch (mostly referred to as “Francis” in English texts) was still Franz II, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, a title he had to renounce in 1806 as a result of the rather unsuccessful coalition wars against France. Even before that, however, he had already proclaimed a new Austrian Empire, which he then naturally ruled as Franz I (see also the wedding clock on p. 48). Johann Stephan Decker first painted him as Franz I at his desk in 1826. The motif of Decker’s picture was widely replicated in woodcuts and copperplate engravings, which were in turn copied by painter Carl Ludwig Hoffmeister for this picture clock. It is a typical Biedermeier piece, where a small clock face is integrated in a suitable place in the picture. This happens to be the only detail which Hoffmeister added to the Decker painting: a wall clock in a rather unusual place, right above the window of the Emperor’s office. But where else could the painter have slipped it in? It should be noted that painting on sheet iron or copper, a popular material for picture clocks, was a technically demanding job for the painter. Hoffmeister produced several copies of his picture clock showing Franz I, one of them a musical clock that plays the tune of Haydn’s Kaiserlied.
Set of jewellery with pendant watch, c. 1840 Terond and Ravier, Geneva
Jewellery set: brooch, necklace with pendant, gold bracelet with pearls and diamonds, enamelled. The small gold pendant watch can be inserted in the bracelet. Bracelet size: height 70 mm, width 45 mm Watch: height 28 mm, width 21 mm, depth 4 mm Case: engraved on the inside of the lid: “Terond u. Ravier, Geneve No. 75.512” Dial and indicators: enamel dial, hour and minute hands Movement: gilt-brass movement with cylinder escapement, key wind, duration 30 hours Inv. no. U 3294 Legacy of Anna Januschek, 1984
When mention is made of a “court actress” in Austria, the conversation has in all probability turned to the famous Katharina Schratt (1853–1940). Owing to her decades-long close friendship with Emperor Franz Joseph, she was a major celebrity who was known and aroused public interest far beyond the theatre audiences. Having first met in 1885, the actress and the monarch remained in close contact until the latter’s death in 1916. As a result, the picture of “la Schratt” is firmly linked to that of the ageing Emperor in Austria’s collective memory, in much the same way as that of Empress Elisabeth belongs to his younger days. As a consequence, Schratt’s achievements as a performer have to some extent been relegated to the background, although she pursued a successful career at the leading theatres in Berlin, Vienna and St. Petersburg before making Vienna’s Burgtheater her home as an artist. Her close ties to the Emperor brought her not only financial benefits and a villa near Schönbrunn Palace, but also a considerable collection of precious adornments. According to oral tradition, this set of jewellery with a small pendant watch was among her possessions. Because of her extravagant lifestyle, however, Katharina Schratt was forced on several occasions to part with her treasures – especially since she had retired from professional life rather early. After a quarrel with the then director of the Burgtheater, Paul Schlenther, she quit the stage in October 1900, at only 47 years of age.
Clock with automata depicting a mining operation, 1891 Carl Morawetz, Vienna
Case: Gold-plated cast bronze, by Friedrich Meister (design), Dziedzinski und Hanusch (execution), Vienna, inscription on the front: “Dem hochverehrten Herrn k.k. Oberbergrath Christian Mladý anlässlich seines Scheidens aus dem Revierbergamts-Bezirke BRÜX die Gewerken” [“Presented to the highly esteemed ImperialRoyal Chief Inspector of Mines, Mr. Christian Mladý, on the occasion of his resignation from the Mines Inspection District of BRÜX, the mine owners”], original wooden pedestal Height: 201 cm (including pedestal), width: 56 cm, depth: 40 cm Dial and indicators: enamel dial with double eagle, hour and minute hands, separate barometer dial Movement: brass movement with lever escapement, hour and half-hour strike train on a bell, two automata, signed: “S. Marti et Cie Medaille de Bronze”; signed and dated: “Carl Morawetz/ Uhrmachermeister in Wien 1891”, inscribed: “150 Tage Arbeitszeit 30. September 1891” [“150 days working time September 30, 1891”], duration one day Automata: miner with cart on a circular track; two elevator buckets on rotating elevator cable Inv. no. U 3100 Bequest of Peter Mladý, 1969
“Presented to the highly esteemed Imperial-Royal Chief Inspector of Mines, Mr. Christian Mladý, on the occasion of his resignation from the Mines Inspection District of BRÜX,” says the inscription, done in black letters on the gilt surface. In other words, Mr. Mladý, a government official of the mining authority of Brüx in northern Bohemia, retired from office, and the mine owners paid tribute to him – by giving him a one-of-a-kind clock designed by the director of a vocational school in Teplice-Šanov/Teplitz-Schönau. It depicts a mining operation, and every hour on the hour, the elevator buckets go up and down, and a miner pushes his cart along the track. An assurance in writing that “there is no replica of this clock, the original casting mould was destroyed right away” is given on a photograph of the clay mould. All in all, 49 components had to be cast to make the elaborate clock case. Carl Morawetz, who could boast the title of “clockmaker by appointment to the Imperial-Royal Court”, placed another inscription on the movement, pointing out that it had taken him “150 days working time” to make it. And the old town of Brüx, called Most in Czech? Sadly, it is no longer there. The old city centre stood in the way of the coal mining industry, and when the Jan Hus shaft was dug to allow open-cast coal mining in the early 1960s, the historic buildings were demolished by blasting. The only remaining vestige of the town Christian Mladý knew is a Gothic church that was rescued in a spectacular action: the whole church building, including its foundations, was loaded onto rails and moved to a new location. The rest of the town today is largely built of pre-fab concrete.
Time control clock for gas street lighting, c. 1920 Danubia AG, Vienna
Case: painted cast iron with brass top section, inscribed: “Danubia A.G. / System Klichmann / Budapest – Wien – Straßburg i. Els.” Height: 36 cm, diameter: 15 cm Dial and indicators: black and white painted brass dial with 24-hour gradation, two movable tabs to set the beginning and end of lighting-up time, inscribed: “System Klichmann” Movement: spring-driven brass movement with lever escapement, duration eight days Inv. no. U 587 Donation by private owner, 1923
On July 8, 1818, Vienna’s first gas street lights were lit up by the director of the Polytechnical Institute, Johann Joseph Prechtl. Although this was only a field trial involving 25 lamps connected to a nearby gas production plant, the introduction of more extensive night-time illumination was just a question of time after the first successful test run. By 1850, the city centre of Vienna was already lit by 564 all-night and 494 half-night street lamps. By 1912, their number had grown to 37,000, and 679 lamplighters were employed to operate and take care of them. That year, however, brought an innovation that was to cost most of them their jobs: the first control clocks were installed to light up and extinguish the gas flames automatically. “The clockworks of our automatic machines are constructed with great care, using rubies of the finest quality,” promised the Viennese manufacturing company Danubia AG in its sales promotion material, detailing further that the clocks “are encased in two rain- and dustproof boxes and therefore have an exceptionally long service life.” A soberly worded paragraph focuses on other advantages of the innovation: “Based on the local wage conditions, every expert in the gas industry can calculate for himself the potential cost savings which may be obtained through the automatic operation of street lights by means of our lighting-up clocks.” Another few years later, however, the time control clock itself was on its way out, consigned to obsolescence as Vienna began to shift to electric street lighting in 1923.
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