Night clock: how to read the hour at night during XVII Century

The night clock, invented in the second half of the XVII Century, allows to read the exact time even in the  darkness, in a time when electricity was not invented and nor were the minute, quarter and hour repeating mechanisms.

The story behind the invention of the night clock gives us a fascinating insight into the practical considerations of one of the most important patrons in Rome during the 17th century: Pope Alexander VII (1655-1667). He was unable to sleep at night because of a huge sense of responibility for his role, and for this reason he wanted to be able to easily read the hour even in the darkness. The Campani brothers created the night clock with had a lamp or a candle behind the open work dial, which enabled the pope to read the time day and night.

After this commission the Campanis created several more night clocks for princes, nobles, ambassadors and other members of the high clergy; the fashion for this kind of clock quickly spread through the whole of Italy and the rest of Europe.

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Orologio notturno di Tommaso Campani Fonte: Cambi Casa d'Aste

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Sul quadrante le ore scorrono su una finestrella ad arco (ora è la una); i numeri romani sopra l'arco indicano i quarti d'ora Fonte: Cambi Casa d'Aste

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Orologio notturno con cassa in legno ebanizzato, mostra in rame dipinto, h cm 70,5. Fonte: Museo "Giannettino Luxoro" di Genova

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Orologio notturno con raffigurazione sul quadrante di Chronos con la falce che distrugge la Giovinezza e la Bellezza. XVII secolo

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