c. 1350–1400, Middle English clokke, clok, cloke, from Middle Dutch clocke (“bell, clock”), from Old Northern French cloque (“bell”), from Medieval Latin clocca, probably of Celtic origin, from Proto-Celtic *klokkos (“bell”) (compare Welsh cloch, Irish clog), from Proto-Indo-European *klēg-, *klōg-. Related to Old English clucge, Saterland Frisian Klokke (“bell; clock”), Low German Klock (“bell, clock”), German Glocke, Swedish klocka. Related to laugh.
The invention of the mechanical clock in the 13th century initiated a change in timekeeping methods from continuous processes, such as the motion of the gnomon's shadow on a sundial or the flow of liquid in a water clock, to periodic oscillatory processes, such as the swing of a pendulum or the vibration of a quartz crystal,[3][63] which had the potential for more accuracy. All modern clocks use oscillation.
The timekeeping part of all weight-driven clocks, including large tower clocks, is substantially the same. The figure shows the mechanism of a simple weight-driven timepiece with a pendulum. The frame is made up of two plates that carry the pivots of the various wheels and other moving parts and that are united and spaced by four pillars. The driving weight hangs from a line coiled around a barrel or sprocket, which is raised by turning the winding square or, in some cases, by pulling on the line. The main wheel engages with the centre pinion, on the arbor (axle) of which is also mounted the centre wheel. The front pivot of this wheel and pinion is lengthened to the right of the illustration; it carries the minute hand and part of the gearing necessary to drive the hour hand.
In a pendulum clock an escape wheel is allowed to rotate through the pitch of one tooth for each double swing of the pendulum and to transmit an impulse to the pendulum to keep it swinging. An ideal escapement would transmit the impulse without interfering with the free swing, and the impulse should be as uniform as possible. The double three-legged gravity escapement, which achieves the second of these but not the first, was invented by Edmund Beckett, afterward Lord Grimthorpe, and used by him for the great clock at Westminster, now generally known as Big Ben, which was installed in 1859. It became the standard for all really accurate tower clocks.
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