Clocks in Motion
Travelers have benefited from any number of portable timepieces over the years—from pocket sundials to pocket watches. During the 19th century, as more and more people began to travel by carriage, they needed timepieces that could travel with them. One such timepiece was the carriage clock, whose remarkably shockproof movement was perfected by the French watchmaker Abraham Louis Brequet in the late 18th century. In other instances, pocket watches were placed in leather holders that fit over the front board of the carriage. As inventors and manufacturers like Karl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler, Charles and J. Frank Duryea, Henry Ford, and Ransom E. Olds furthered development of the automobile, a new breed of clock was introduced—the car clock.
By 1908, speedometer companies were producing and marketing clocks as after-market accessories. Over the next decade, the car clock grew in popularity and several companies began catering to the growing market, including the Phinney-Walker Keyless Clock Company, the Warner Instrument Company, the Seth Thomas Clock Company, the Stewart Speedometer Company, the Chelsea Clock Company, and the Boston Clock Company. In some cases, there was a clear crossover between marine clocks and automobile clocks. Waltham, a major supplier of car clocks, marketed identical timepieces for both automobiles and boats.
Manufactures gave customers many choices offering models that mounted on general interior surfaces, dashboards, steering wheels, gearshifts, and rear-view mirrors. The winding mechanisms also evolved from key-wind clocks to stem-wind clocks to rim-wind clocks. During the 1930s and 1940s, electric automobile clocks were in production, but mechanical clocks were still being offered. It was not until 1950s and 1960s that electric clocks truly dominated the market, at least up until the advent of quartz technology. Today's car clocks mostly have quartz movements, however new technologies like Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are available as both production abd after-market accessories.