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Research on Analog Clock

http://around-us-facts.blogspot.com/2013/01/why-do-clocks-rotate-clockwise.html

Why do CLOCKS rotate Clockwise??

Clocks are used all over the world and wherever you go the clocks rotate
in clockwise direction. This standard for the rotation of clock hands is regularly used
to refer to the direction of rotation - "Clockwise and Anticlockwise". The explanation
below also tells you why we celebrate New Year at Midnight.
The early watchmakers hailed from Northern Hemisphere where shadows on
sundials moved West to East as the day progressed. The direction of the shadow of the
sun dial is the reason for the direction of the clock.

What about the numbering system? Why the numbers are placed so?? Now
imagine the dial of your watch as Earth. The hand of the clock moves
from West to East through Noon. During the day time, if you hold your watch upright,
the HOUR hand will approximately point towards the SUN for most of the time on a
Sunny day.
This strange way of placing the numbers on the dial has made us to celebrate New
Year and our Birthdays at mid-night.
http://www.pitara.com/science-for-kids/5ws-and-h/why-do-clocks-run-clockwise/

Do you know there are some Jewish and Arabic clocks that run anti-clockwise?
This makes perfect sense as Arabic and Hebrew readers (Arabic and Hebrew
characters are written right to left) but baffles everyone else!

The clock at the bottom with the Hebrew numbers runs counterclockwise. The one on top with the Roman
numerals runs clockwise. This spire is located in the Old Jewish Town Hall in Josefov, Prague, Czech
Republic.

HISTORY
Why do clocks usually show just a division into 12 hours, when there are 24 hours in a day?

Prehistory
The origins of our 24 hour day can be traced back at least 4000 years, to ancient Egypt and
Babylon, and perhaps further back in time. The Egyptians and Babylonians divided the parade of
stars that appeared in the sky each night into 12 sections, marked by the various stars that rose
and set that night. For example, the star Procyon might rise shortly after sunset one evening,
followed about an hour later by Sirius. This defined a kind of heavenly clock, although different
groups of 12 stars were used to cope with the slow shift of the night sky during the year. The
daylight hours were divided into 12, to match. Two sets of 12 give 24, hence the number of
hours in a day.
The famous astronomical ceiling at Senmut shows a series of circles divided into 24 sections.
Its not clear what these circles signify the 12 circles are labelled with month names.

Why 12? 12 is more or less the number of moon cycles in a year, so its a special number in
most cultures.

Sundials
1.

Ancient Sundial , Worlds Oldest Sundial , From


Egypt valley of the Kings(c. 1500 Bc).

Hemispherical Greek sundial from Ai Khanoum, Afghanistan, 3rd-2nd


century BCE.

Sundial located at the center of the Great Mosque of Kairouan


(Tunisia)

The dial of a sundial is equivalent to a 24 hour clock face. Sundials track the motion of the sun,
so noon and midnight appear directly opposite each other on the face, with 06:00 (VI) and
18:00 (VI) on either side.
Not many sundials show all 24 hour markers, though some do. This is probably for aesthetic
reasons: it makes a symmetrical design, and gives the maker something to put all round the
edge of a circle, even though half of them would never be used. The famous modern sundial
near Tower Bridge, in London, shows the full set of 24 hour marks, but you can see them on
some of the more decorative antique sundials too.

The equatorial dial on this polyhedral sundial is marked with all 24 hours (1...12, 1...12). It was
made by Hans Koch in Munich in 1578. The original is in Munich.

Heres an engraving from an 18th century treatise by Ferguson showing how a sundial would
look if numbered all the way round the edge.

If you ever get to spend a summers day at the North Pole, why not use the pole itself to make a
sundial? Youll be able to construct a 24 hour dial, and youll see that the midnight and noon
marks are opposite each other. During the winter, the sun isnt visible, however.
What did the Romans ever do for us?
The Romans inherited the 24 hour day (in the double-12 form, two sets of 1 to 12 numbers)
from the Egyptians, via the Greeks: 12 hours of daylight, followed by 12 hours of night, with
hours of variable length depending on the time of year. They started counting from sunrise
(hour 1 = Prima), so hour 3 (Tertia) was mid-morning, hour 6 (Sexta) was midday, and hour 9
(None) was midafternoon.
Echoes of this system linger today we call a midday break a siesta, and noon is derived from
none (but may have crept forward due to hunger).

Another Instruments about Time:


Alternative version of image:Wooden hourglass 2.jpg. Wooden hourglass. Total
height: 25 cm. Wooden disk diameter: 11.5 cm. Running time of the hourglass: 1
hour. Hourglass in other languages: 'timglas' (Swedish), 'sanduhr' (German),
'sablier' (French), 'reloj de arena' (Spanish), 'zandloper' (Dutch),

A Candle Clock.

Diagram of a fancy clepsydra, this type being an automaton or self-adjusting


machine. Water enters and raises the figure, which points at the current hour for
the day. Spillover water operates a series of gears that rotates a cylinder so that
hour lengths are appropriate for today's date. The ancient Greeks and Romans
had twelve hours from sunrise to sunset; since summer days are longer than
winter days, summer hours were longer than winter hours.(1819).

Arabs and astrolabes


The astrolabe was another forerunner of the clock. The Arab astronomers were adding gears to
their astrolabes by the 8th century, producing prototype clocks. As the astrolabe is a model of
the solar system, it obviously uses the 24 hour dial, rather than show two revolutions of 12
hours each per day. But given their generally better weather, they didnt need to develop
alternatives to the astrolabe and sundial, such as water and weight-driven clocks.
Early clocks
The early history of the clock (from about 1200 to 1350 AD) is not well known, and is still
argued over by historians. None of the early clocks have survived, so we still dont know who
invented it, or where.

Monks and religious institutions wanted to run their services (called Prime, Tierce, Sext, None,
etc using the Roman divisions of 1, 3, 6, 9) at regular intervals throughout the day and night,
and were looking for something better than sundials, astronomy, and water clocks, all
unreliable in cloudy and cold Northern Europe. In particular, the timing of the midnight service
proved very difficult. Hence the intense interest in making a mechanical clock.
We can guess that the first clocks didnt even have dials they were probably just devices for
ringing bells at regular intervals. (The word clock means bell.) Bells were used for relaying
information around churches and monasteries, and in towns and cities. Bells signaled the times
of services, the start and end of work shifts, the opening of markets, the start of meetings,
court events, trials and executions, and so on, and would have used combinations and special
sequences to indicate messages. So a device for automating the ringing of bells eventually led
To the development and rapid introduction of a generalized time-measuring system, and
machines for keeping it.
And behind all this practical need for machines and systems to keep religious and secular life
punctual was a desire to look upwards and emulate something of the spectacular display of the
sun, moon, planets, and stars, to inspire the religious spirits.
One of the earliest mentions of a clock-like machine was in 1271, when Robertus Anglicus
wrote that:

Clockmakers are trying to make a wheel that will move exactly as the motion of the equinoctial
circle

So a wheel that revolved once every 24 hours was the obvious solution for a device that not
only kept the time, day and night, but echoed the religious view of the universe, where the
heavens revolve in a God-given orderly procession around the earth.
Nearly 100 years later, the clockmakers had succeeded, since the great Italian clockmaker De
Dondi could quickly gloss over the mechanics of the 24 hour clock when he writes about his
astronomical clock:
but the method of making this clock will not be discussed in such detail as the rest because its
construction is well known, and there are many varieties of them, and however it is made the
diversity of methods does not come within the scope of this work since we desire nothing more
from it [the clock at the center of his planetarium] than the uniform and equal motion of a
wheel which shall complete its course in the space of a natural day, and such a wheel is called
the horary sphere.

Planetarium
From about 1300 on, clocks developed quickly along two main paths. In towns, the public or
church clock became a common sight (and sound), ordering and marking the passing of the
hours of day and night. When dials were eventually introduced, they would be 24 hour ones,
although few have survived in their original form, so we cant be sure.
Other clocks developed into sophisticated planetaria: Richard of Wallingfords famous
astronomical clock, which he built over a course of 30 years at St Albans starting in 1330, and
Giovanni de Dondis clock, completed in 1364, were both mechanical marvels, calculating moon
and planetary orbits, and even eclipses. These had 24 hour dials, showing the sun and earths
relative motions during the day and night in graphic form.
The clock at Wells Cathedral dates from the end of the 14 century, although the dial is probably
later.

Non-standard time
Timekeeping methods varied from country to country. In Italy, they counted their hours from
sunset, so by sunrise in the morning the hour was already about 12 or 13. The 1 to 24
numbering system used in Italy was known in France, Germany, and England as Italian Hours.
The northern Europeans often divided the 24 hours up into two sets of 1 to 12, probably
arranged so that 12 noon is at the top of the dial, and 12 midnight at the bottom. Notice how
the Wells dial, above, doesnt actually use the Roman numeral XII for either.
The famous clock of the Beata Vergine (later San Gottardo) in Milan, built around 1330, was one
of the earliest to strike a bell a number of times to tell the time (not just striking once on the
hour). In 1335, Galvano Fiamma writes:

There is there a wonderful clock, because there is a very large clapper which strikes a bell 24
times according to the 24 hours of the day and night, and thus at the first hour of the night
gives one sound, at the second two strokes, and so distinguishes one hour from another, which
is of greatest use to men of every degree.
By contrast, the French and Northern Europeans were using the 24 hour double-XII dial, and
were also introducing the single 12 hour dial. The 12 hour system was known as German hours
in Bohemia, and French hours in Italy. Clocks imported into Italy were often converted from
French-style numbering to use the 24 hour Italian system. In Southern Germany (Augsburg),
which became one of the main Centres of clock making by the 15th century, clockmakers were
making clocks with both 12 hour and 24 hour dials, sometimes with both on the same clock.
They used the terms great and small time systems to refer to the 24 and 12 hour time

systems. This German alarm clock from the 1500s has three rings, each showing Arabic rather
than Roman numerals:

When did the roman-style counting (starting from dawn with 1) give way to our modern style
counting, starting at midnight (or midday) with 0? Perhaps when clocks were regularly
synchronized with the sun. Noon/midday is the easiest and most accurate way of synchronizing
clocks with solar time, the basis for time until clocks were accurate enough to track the Earths
irregularities.
Why the move to 12 hour time?
Both the 24 hour time system (1 to 24, as used in Italy) and the double-XII system (1 to 12 then
1 to 12 again, as used in England and Northern Europe) can be displayed on a 24 hour dial. So
why did the 12 hour dial, with the added ambiguity of AM and PM, become popular and
eventually dominate, for general-purpose public clocks, at least, between 1400 and 1600?
Here are some suggestions:

REASON

ARGUMENTS

power needed Ringing a bell up to 24 times uses up a lot of


to ring bell
power (up to twice as much as ringing the
bell 12 times!), and reduces the period
between windings. The 12 hour dial reduced

OBJECTIONS
A double-XII dial could have had
matching bell ringing sequences (1 to 12,
then 1 to 12) but still displayed on a 24
hour dial. Why change a familiar dial?

the amount of power required to ring the


bell on the hour. Also, portable spring-driven
clocks and later watches were the latest
thing, and the power savings gained by the
12 hour dial were eagerly seized by the
clockmakers. Italy eventually followed other
European countries, which had started
switching to the 12 hour clock by 1550.
lose count of
24 strokes

Its been suggested is that people lost count


while listening to a long run of up to 24 bells.
So the switch to 12 made it easier to tell the
time

Clock makers would have introduced


some form of code (one bell rings before
12, another bell rings from 12 to 24, for
example) if they had had the power to
spare. Besides, counting bells isnt that
difficult, really. 4 year old children can
do it. Although its easy to lose count if
youre in a noisy environment.

too difficult to A 24 hour dial squeezes in 6 hours between


read
what the 12 hour dial shows as 0900 and
1200 so its difficult to tell the difference
between, say, 10 and 11, because theyre
closer together. This is particularly true
before minute hands were widely used
(before about 1650?) People are looking at a
tower clock from some distance too, and
upwards it would be much easier for a 12
hour dial (or even a 6 hour dial).

It would depend on the design, partly,


and the way the dial was numbered. And
difficult is very subjective: we now
learn the 12 hour dial intensively when
young, so how do we know whether 24
hour dials are really harder to read? Do
we find minutes hard to read theyve
got 60 divisions?

shows up
inaccurate
clocks too
quickly

A 24 hour dial increases the required


An ingenious but not entirely convincing
precision for the hour hand, because the
argument!
hour hand moves less during an hour: if its
not accurate, it will soon start to be slower or
faster. On a 12 hour dial with the same
works, it takes twice as long to look like its
an hour adrift.

not enough
resolution for
accurate time
keeping

With more hours squeezed into a smaller arc,


it was harder to read the exact time from a
single hand on the 24 hour dial than on the
12 hour dial. This was before the widespread
introduction of the minute hand, of course,
so the difference between half past 10 and a
quarter past ten would be harder to discern

This is a more convincing version of the


above argument. But Im not sure if the
dates for the introduction of the minute
hand and the growing popularity of the
12 hour dial coincide, though. Anyway,
no clocks were really accurate (to a

on a 24 hour dial, unless the radius of the dial minute or so) before the introduction of
was very big.
the pendulum in about 1650.
dominance of
one country
forced others
to adapt

The clockmakers of France and, to some


This is plausible. But is it true? And what
extent, Germany tended to use the 12 hour about English clockmakers?
dial more than the 24 hour dial, and the
technical superiority of their clocks forced
out the less efficient makers of clocks with 24
hour dials, such as Italy. The gradual drift
northward of the power Centres of Europe
during the renaissance is well documented.

avoids
duplication so
quicker to
make

The urge to simplify complexity and thereby


reduce work and hopefully improve accuracy
led clockmakers to eliminate the duplicate
dial numbers and rely on context to resolve
the ambiguity. There are other examples of
similar attempts: the six hour dial, Benjamin
Franklins 8 hour dial, and so on.

24 hour time
became
Italian-only

Italians were counting from sunset with their This links in with the Northern-drift
1-24 system, and the Northern Europeans
theory of the renaissance above, which
were counting from midnight with their
may be true.
double-XII systems. Perhaps the 24 hour dial
became associated with sunset-starting
clocks, so the 12 hour dial became the
standard for midnight-starting clocks (which
eventually became the standard).

This theory suggests that clockmakers


are the type of people who would just
hate to have unnecessary duplication,
even if it was merely the numbering on
the dial. Making life easier for
developers and harder for users has a
very modern ring to it.

I dont suppose well ever know for sure!

17th Century: Tompion, Harrison, and Mudge


Gradually the 12 hour dial became used for most standard clocks, and the 24 hour dial was
reserved for the more esoteric, technical, or complex clocks. The famous clockmakers were
happy to design both 12 and 24 hour dials according to need or preference. The big
astronomical clocks, such as those to be found at Prague or Strasbourg, usually used the 24
hour dial, with Arabic numerals from 1 to 24 for the Italian hours and Roman numerals
(double-XII) for the North European numbering.

Thomas Tompion built some long case clocks with 24 hour dials, which you can see in
museums today. Tompion has been called the father of English clock making, and is sometimes
reckoned to be one of the greatest craftsmen of all time. This Equation Clock was built in
1695 for King William III. As well as the double-XII hour dial, it has a double-60 minute dial
the minute hand makes one revolution every two minutes. Theres also an outer minute ring
which rotates back and forward to show apparent solar time. So you could read off the
difference between mean time and local solar time by comparing the minute rings.

Tompion also built this Astrolabe clock in 1677:

You can see the sun and moon hands, and the moon phase in the central disk, next to the
astrological graphics.

Tompion and George Graham collaborated to make this orrery (a working model of the solar
system), which naturally used the 24 hour dial on the side.

Its interesting to compare this idea with the older church clocks, which are often described as
illustrating the Ptolemaic earth-centred view of the solar system. The orrery shows the
Copernican view but even in an Einsteinian view of the universe, a terrestrial rotation
simulator would probably have a 24 hour dial. The original is in the Museum of History of
Science in Oxford.
John Harrison (famous clockmaker and star of the best-selling book Longitude) used the 24
hour dial for his first chronometer H1, built in about 1730.

Harrisons H1 chronometer. Read more about Harrisons clocks at The Royal Observatory
Greenwich site.

This is the hour dial of H1.


Following Harrison, Thomas Mudge designed three marine chronometers, this one with a 24
hour dial.

A feature of this is that the hour dial has two scales: one for the hours (1-12/1-12), then,
inside, degrees in 15 degree steps from 0 to 360. This presumably allows some kind of

conversion from hours (time) to degrees (longitude). (The fourth dial at the top indicates how
much the clock is wound up.) This example is in the British Museum.
Often, it was the professional time-users astronomers, navigators, for example who used
the 24 hour dial, and, sometimes the 24 hour time system as well. For example, the log book
for Captain Cooks second voyage during which he tested various clocks that would help find
the longitude shows handwritten entries that use the 24 hour time system, so switching
between 24 and 12 hour dials wouldnt have been a problem for them. In fact, anyone working
with time needed to have their wits about them.

Confusion
In general, there was much less standardization of time and clocks than today, and probably
much confusion, not just with time zones, but with time systems too.
For astronomers, the day started at noon (easy to measure the suns position), so they counted
their hours from noon. This was still the case up to 1925, although the civil day continued to
end at midnight. For navigators at sea, however, the day ended at noon. At 6 oclock on Monday
morning civil time, it was 18:00 on Sunday for astronomers. 12 hours later, at 6 oclock in the
evening on Monday, civil time, it was 6pm on Tuesday for the navigator, but 06.00 on Monday
for the astronomer. When a ship entered harbour, the navigator switched from nautical time to
civil time. Captain Cook and his astronomer William Wales recorded the same time in different
ways, and switched when they entered harbour.

A gallery of old clocks and watches


In the 18th and 19th centuries, makers continued to build a wonderful variety of timepieces,
and a substantial minority of them had 24 hour dials. Some of these clocks were built as
exhibition clocks, to be taken on tour round the country and displayed to the wondering
public for a small entry fee. Here is a small selection of 24 hour analog clocks and watches.
This is one side of a two-sided watch the other side is a conventional 12 hour dial. Perhaps
the owner was intending to travel across Europe, switching between 12 hour and 24 hour dials
as needed.

Around the edge of the 24 hour dial are the signs of the zodiac and a month hand the other
side shows the day of the month (1 to 31). It was made by David Pons, England, in 1770.
This is one of the monumental showpiece clocks. Its an astronomical organ clock by Henry
Jenkins (1770):

While the curious observer sits at the hinged bureau flap thoughtfully provided to support his
notebook, the organ beguiles him with a selection of twelve tunes.
The clock shows details of the moon, high tide times, lengths of the day and night, and
includes a map of the world and the stars.

The map probably rotates around the Centre, thus showing the time in any location on the
earth. The counterclockwise numbering reminds us that the earth does in fact rotate in that
direction, rather than clockwise.

This extravagant table clock was made by Peter Klein in Dresden about 1738:

The globe in the Centre rotates once a day, like the earth, and moves the pointer around the
clock, with the North Pole facing outwards. Theres also a glass shade that darkens the areas of
the earth that are currently experiencing darkness.
Here is an overgrown watch doubling as a ships chronometer:

It was made by George Margetts in about 1780. At the center is a 12 hour dial with the names
of 8 English ports; the 24 hour dial shows the times of low and high tide. This watch also
manages to show the moons position in the zodiac, its declination, its latitude, its ecliptic
nodes, its age, as well as eclipses of the sun and moon, the date, suns declination, twilight
period, suns position in the zodiac. It apparently has only 16 gears. It might be in the National
Maritime Museum at Greenwich.
At the other extreme, heres a Swiss watch, made in 1880, recently on sale
athttp://www.antique-watch.com/:

In this design midnight is marked as 24, rather than 0. Also, the minutes start with 0 at the
bottom of the dial, rather than at the top.
This watch was made by John Johnson of Preston, England, in 1868:

It has Harrisons Maintaining Power (which means that it keeps going while youre winding it)
and Bossley regulation. It was recently on sale at Robert Youngs Pocket Watch shop. From
midnight to noon is numbered in Roman numerals, and from noon to midnight in Arabic. Notice
that this watch puts midnight on the top, whereas the previous one put noon at the top.

This unusual 10 inch high spherical skeleton clock was made in about 1760. It just makes this
web site because it has a spherical band with the 24 hour numbers:

During the 19th century, the 24 hour dial was being used for more earthly reasons, rather than
with the astronomical and religious intentions of the early clock makers. The ability of the 24
hour dial to display a wide range of times up to a day apart made it useful for showing the time
in different parts of the world, and this use started to become important.
This extravagant French clock made in 1856 has 13 dials, the lower 8 of which are 24 hour
dials, showing the time in London, New York, St Petersburg, Canton, Tahiti, Alexandria, Algiers,
and St Helena:

The bottom half of each 24 hour dial has a dark border, to indicate night time. The other dials
show the equation of time (for use with sundials), month/days of the week, and phases of the
moon (and the time in 12 hour system). It makes you wonder: why would a clock owner in 1856
want to know the exact time in Jakarta or Johannesburg in 1850 before the introduction of
telephones or radio?
This is a late 19th century sidereal clock, which tells the time according to the stars:

A sidereal day is about 4 minutes shorter than the solar day. They were of most use in
observatories. This one can be found in the Norman Lockyer Observatory in Devon.
In 1852, this 24 hour clock was installed outside the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, London:

It was the first clock to make Greenwich Time available to the public. The master clock
(installed inside the observatory) controlled this one by remote control and electric wires. It says
about 16:19 (or, in 12-hour speak, 4 oclock Post Meridiem plus 19 minutes), and midnight is
at the top. The Roman numerals arent very readable to a modern eye.

The Modern era


In the 20th century, new groups encouraged the manufacture of 24 hour clocks. Radio
enthusiasts needed to know the time around the world, and often adopted the 24 hour dial. The
military wanted unambiguous times and adopted the 24 hour time system already widely used
in Europe, encouraging the construction of 24 hour analog clocks and watches.
Pilots already confident in reading a wide assortment of unusual dials adopted the 24 hour
dial for clocks in cockpits, and for their watches too. Here are a few mechanical cockpit clocks
(collected by tgarn on the 24 hour watches forum).

This is the Willis World clock from the 1930s, seen in the London Science Museum.

New and not so new 24 hour clocks and watches from the 20th century still turn up today. Here
are some of the clocks Ive seen on sale on the net recently. EBay is always a good place to look.
All these examples put midnight at the top, by the way its become the standard.
This clock includes various cities of the world in the middle:

The map disk on this Master Crafters clock rotates manually. You typically set the clock to read
GMT and then adjust the disk to show the correct time in your time zone:

Bakelite clocks are very collectable. This US Military clock with its functional design reminds me
of modern central heating controllers:

Heres another US military clock:

The future
Today, although the 12 hour dial is standard; the 24 hour analog dial is used by the specialist
and the connoisseur, and sought after by the individual and the collector. Kids struggle for
years to learn how to tell the time using the 12 hour dial, and would probably find the 24 hour
analog dial and 24 hour time system much more logical.
24 hour analog clocks and watches are still being made, and are highly sought after.
Ive seen them used just once in computer user interfaces. It provides an elegant and simple
graphical way of selecting a time, which is not so easy to do on a 12 hour dial, because of the
AM/PM issue. About ten years ago, there was an application called Web Arranger. This was a
new kind of application that organized and integrated your web browsing and personal
information. Web Arranger was made by CE Software, who discontinued it in about 1996, I
think. The widget for selecting a time used a double-12 analog dial, with the evening half
colored black:

The Long Now foundation are thinking hard about the future. Will their clock have a 12 hour or
24 hour dial?

Theres no shortage of other ideas for radical changes in the way we keep, measure, and
display time, but I believe that the logical and elegant 24 hour dial will be with us for many
years to come. So why not make your next clock or watch a real 24 hour one?

Further reading
Here are some books on the development of clocks that you might be interested in.
History of the Hour: Clocks and modern temporal orders: Gerhard Dohen van Rossum this is a
study of the development of clocks and the development of modern time-keeping practices
from Roman times to today. While a bit dry and scholarly at times (its translated from the
German), its a great introduction to a fascinating subject.
Revolution in Time: Clocks and the making of the modern world David Landes
This is a very readable account of the history of timekeeping written by an economic historian.
At times hes more interested in the economic aspects of clock and watch manufacturing than I
felt I wanted to be, but its a good read.
A history of clocks and watches Eric Bruton

An extremely well-illustrated general survey of clocks and watches, back in print. Buy it for the
pictures, then read the text!
Greenwich Time, and the discovery of the longitude Derek Howse
This tells the history of confusing time systems, and the gradual standardization in the 18th
and 19th centuries. Theres a lot of information about the introduction of Greenwich Time, and
amusing descriptions of the bureaucratic proceedings as every faction tried hard not to give
anything away. (Legal time in France is Paris Mean Time, retarded by 9 minutes 21 seconds
the French in 1898, trying hard to avoid mentioning Greenwich.)
http://www.units.miamioh.edu/dragonfly/time/egypt.shtml

The Sumerian culture was lost without passing on its knowledge of time. The
Egyptians were the next group of people to divide their day into parts, similar to our
hours. About 3500 B.C., Egyptians created a slender four-sided tapering monument
called an obelisk, which cast shadows. By looking at the obelisk's shadows, people
could tell when noon occurred and, thus, divide their day into two parts. Later, the
Egyptians added markers around the base of the obelisk to indicate more divisions of
time throughout the day. These divisions are similar to our hours.
Another shadow clock or sundial came into use around 1500 B.C. to measure the
passage of "hours." This clock was oriented east and west in the morning. An elevated
crossbar cast a moving shadow on the "hour" markers. At midday, Egyptians turned
the device in the opposite direction to measure the afternoon "hours."

The ancient Egyptians even learned to keep track of time at night. An instrument
called a merkhet was developed in 600 B.C. It is the oldest known astrometrical tool,
which is a tool to measure the positions, movements and distances of planets and
stars. Egyptians lined up a pair of merkhets with a certain star, called the Pole Star, to
establish a north-south line. The Egyptians used the merkhets to mark off nighttime
hours by determining when other stars crossed the meridian. Not bad for a people
living 2,600 years ago!

Thank you for your Interest.