The Museum Collection

From the tiniest watch movements to a large church clock, a watch worn to the top of Mount Everest or one fit for a Queen, our collection encompasses the history of London's clock and watchmaking trade.

The Museum Collection

Much of our collection is on display, with around 720 objects in the gallery. We are working with the Science Museum to digitise and photograph our collection to make it available online. To see which of these amazing objects' records are now accessible, visit the Science Museum's Collections Online website. Please contact us if you can't find what you are looking for.

This month's highlights

Let's take a closer look at some of the more unusual timekeepers in our collection. From the beautiful watches which take the form of animals and flowers, to the clocks that are rewound by gas, clockmakers over the centuries have been creative and sometimes just plain whacky in their designs and creations.

PL

  • The 'Mary Queen of Scots' watch

    At first glance this watch appears more of a ghoulish sculpture than portable timekeeper. The use of a skull in works of art is usually known as a memento mori (in Latin this means 'remember death') and is used to remind the user or owner that death comes to everybody.

    Legend has it that this watch belonged to Mary Queen of Scots. In fact it is one of three, first recorded in 1822. 

    Find out more about this watch

  • A 19th century decimal watch

    Take a closer look at the dial on this pocket watch. You will see that the hours read in Roman numerals from 1-10 and the minutes from 1-100. Where you would normally expect to find XII, is instead V. The hands also move in an anticlockwise direction.

    The dial is actually laid out as if the hands were tracing the path of the sun in the sky if you were looking north (the logic being that you would use the watch in the same way as a compass). It is designed so the whole day is divided into 10 hours, rather than 24, meaning the hour hand only rotates once per day. This is why 5 or V, is positioned at the top of the dial (12 noon), when the sun is highest in the sky. Suffice to say, this design did not catch on!

    Find out more about this watch

The Clockmakers' Museum

Location:
Science Museum,
Exhibition Road,
South Kensington,
London, SW7 2DD
Opening times:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: Closed
Friday: Closed
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed
Visit the Science Museum website to book your free ticket for entry

The Clockmakers of London Book

The Clockmakers of London Book

The Clockmakers of London tells the story of London as a watch and clockmaking centre, charting the evolution of the Company and its world-famous collection.