|Clocks have been around in various forms for a very long time, but even
well-versed historians have difficulty in agreeing just how long. The word
“clock” stems from the Latin “clocca”, for bell. One of the earliest types
of clock was the sundial, the use of which began around 5,500 years ago. The
disadvantage was that on cloudy days or in the dark, “time stood still”.
About 3,500 years ago, the Egyptians invented the water clock, an ingenious
system using two containers at different levels. Water was dripped at a
predetermined rate from the upper to the lower container which was marked
giving the time. Later, a float and a dial were installed. The float rose
with the water level and turned the mechanism of the hands on a dial. The
far more efficient pendulum clock was invented by Dutch physicist Christian
Huygens in the mid-1600s. Its accuracy has been much improved over the
centuries. The advent of the quartz crystal movement, invented in the early
1900s, surpassed the mechanical clock for precision and is now the most
widely used technology. However, to horology buffs, mechanical clocks and
wristwatches are the ultimate timepiece.