About 1450, clockmakers working probably in southern Germany or northern Italy began to make small clocks driven by a spring. These were the first portable timepieces, representing an important landmark in horology. The time-telling dials of these clocks usually had an hour hand only (minute hands did not generally appear until the 1650s) and were exposed to the air; there was normally no form of cover such as a glass until the 17th century, though the mechanism was enclosed, and the cases were made of brass.
Alarm clocks are perfect for your nightstand or bedside table to make sure that you wake up on time. There are many different kinds of alarm clocks, ranging from digital clocks, analog clocks to projection clocks. Originally, clocks had difficulty with precision because they used a set of imprecise internal gears. Now, atomic alarm clocks are the perfect solution if you are looking for a clock that will get you to work on time. The best alarm clock depends on your needs and personal style. You should consider your purpose behind purchasing an alarm clock before making your selection.
Wallingford's clock had a large astrolabe-type dial, showing the sun, the moon's age, phase, and node, a star map, and possibly the planets. In addition, it had a wheel of fortune and an indicator of the state of the tide at London Bridge. Bells rang every hour, the number of strokes indicating the time. Dondi's clock was a seven-sided construction, 1 metre high, with dials showing the time of day, including minutes, the motions of all the known planets, an automatic calendar of fixed and movable feasts, and an eclipse prediction hand rotating once every 18 years. It is not known how accurate or reliable these clocks would have been. They were probably adjusted manually every day to compensate for errors caused by wear and imprecise manufacture. Water clocks are sometimes still used today, and can be examined in places such as ancient castles and museums. The Salisbury Cathedral clock, built in 1386, is considered to be the world's oldest surviving mechanical clock that strikes the hours.
The most accurate mechanical timekeeper is the Shortt pendulum clock; it makes use of the movement described above for electric master clock systems. The Shortt pendulum clock consists of two separate clocks, one of which synchronizes the other. The timekeeping element is a pendulum that swings freely, except that once every half minute it receives an impulse from a gently falling lever. This lever is released by an electrical signal transmitted from its slave clock. After the impulse has been sent, a synchronizing signal is transmitted back to the slave clock that ensures that the impulse to the free pendulum will be released exactly a half minute later than the previous impulse. The pendulum swings in a sealed box in which the air is kept at a constant, low pressure. Shortt clocks in observatories are kept in a room, usually a basement, where the temperature remains nearly constant, and under these conditions they can maintain the correct time to within a few thousandths of a second per day.
Bolter, David J. Turing's Man: Western Culture in the Computer Age. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, N.C. (1984). ISBN 0-8078-4108-0 pbk. Very good, readable summary of the role of "the clock" in its setting the direction of philosophic movement for the "Western World". Cf. picture on p. 25 showing the verge and foliot. Bolton derived the picture from Macey, p. 20.