The Clockmakers’ Company is an active City of London craft guild or Livery Company. It was founded under a Royal Charter of King Charles I in 1631. Its original purpose was to regulate and encourage the “art and mystery” of watch and clock making together with many related skills, such as engraving, sundial making and mathematical instrument making. Its powers were generally restricted to the City, but in some areas extended to the whole of England and Wales. The Company took particular interest in quality control, training (through apprenticeships) and the welfare of its members.
In theory at least, no-one could make, buy or sell clocks or watches or any part of them within the City, unless they first became a freeman of the Company. This could be achieved through apprenticeship to a free Clockmaker, through redemption (purchase) or patrimony (the right of a child to follow a parent into the Company).
The Company was (and still is) governed by a “Court” of ten or more “Assistants”. The Court annually elects a “Master” and three “Wardens” as its officers and a “Clerk” who attends to its day to day business.
Unlike some surviving City Companies, whose members are no longer drawn from the trade their Company nominally represents, the Clockmakers’ Company includes a majority who are still involved in horology, whether clock making, watch making, designing, buying, selling, collecting, repairing, restoring, conserving or using for scientific purposes; and it includes associated trades such as engraving. The Company still provides a forum where those interested in horology (whether modern or antiquarian) can meet. It still encourages the trade, still promotes excellence and (through its charities) promotes education and training. It runs occasional craft competitions. It awards the Tompion and Harrison Gold Medals, and The Derek Pratt Prize for exceptional achievement in horology worldwide.
Through The Clockmakers’ Museum and Educational Trust it maintains, for the enjoyment and education of the public, its historic Library at mediaeval Guildhall in the City of London, and Museum, which is in a special gallery on the 2nd floor of The Science Museum. The Clockmakers’ Company does not have its own Hall, but retains an office in the City at The Carpenters’ Hall.