Time on the Road Gallery

The Time on the Road Gallery features clocks from car dashboards and steering wheels as well as from various aircraft.

From pocket sundials to pocket watches, travelers have used portable timepieces over the years. As inventors and manufacturers such as Karl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler, Charles and J. Frank Duryea, Henry Ford, and Ransom E. Olds furthered the 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. As cars grew in popularity, several clock companies began catering to the growing market. 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.

Customers had many choices for their car clocks. Manufacturers offered models that mounted on interior surfaces such as the dashboard, steering wheel, gearshift, and rear-view mirror. By the 1930s and 1940s, electric automobile clocks were in production, but mechanical clocks were still being offered. It was not until the 1950s and 1960s that electric clocks truly dominated the market, at least until the advent of quartz technology.

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