This automaton gunboat clock is an impeccable example of the complex artistry of industrial timepieces. An automaton is incorporated into the ship's form, with a separate mechanism that causes the propeller to spin and the turret to rotate 360 degrees when wound. The clock face and a barometer are mounted into the turret, while a thermometer graces the central tower’s façade.
Apart from its mechanical complexity, this timepiece abounds with artistic details. Crafted of silvered and gilt bronze, this particular example is modeled after the Uruguayan Naval gunboat General Artigas
, commissioned in 1883 and named for Uruguayan national hero, José Gervasio Artigas. The vessel was designed to float semi-submerged with its rotating gun turret above water. In fact, rotating turrets were a new innovation in ships at the time that allowed guns to fire from either side without having to turn the boat around — a feature the clockmaker skillfully showcases. Air vents, deck ladders, a lifeboat, anchor chains and anchors are all mounted on a plinth of cast waves and marble base, lending a lifelike quality to this charming mechanical wonder.
French industrial clocks are among the most creative and diverse timepieces of their era, designed to showcase the new technologies of their time and place. Combining precision timekeeping with mechanically-inspired automata, these clocks are extremely popular with collectors and difficult to find in such exceptional, working condition.
23" wide x 9" deep x 14" highClick here to view a video of this item.