'Time-eater' clock on display at Saatchi Gallery
- 10 November 2011
- From the section Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin
A "time-eating" clock designed and engineered by Isle of Man inventor John Taylor is on display at the SalonQP exhibition in London.
The Chronophage or time-eater clock is valued at more than £2m and took years to complete. It has no hands or numbers.
The 74-year-old says he designed the inside out clock to "make time-keeping interesting and relevant again."
The exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery runs until Saturday.
The exhibition is the only one of its kind in the UK and showcases horological creations and innovations from around the world.
Dr Taylor has now completed two Chronophage clocks with his team of craftsmen, engineers and technicians at the Huxley Bertram workshops near Cambridge.
He said: "I have turned the clock inside out as an interesting way to demonstrate time."
The inventor, who will turn 75 later this month, continued: "As you get older, you become more aware that time isn't on your side and every minute that passes is gone forever.
"The Chronophage shows this quite graphically as it relentlessly devours each and every minute.
"Once an hour has gone you can never get it back and the clock is basically saying don't waste time."
Standing more than 3m high the clock was made as a tribute to the great English clockmaker John Harrison who solved the problem of longitude in the 18th Century.
Harrison also invented the grasshopper escapement - a tiny internal device that releases a clock's gears at each swing of its pendulum.
'Gulps down time'
Dr Taylor has modified the form of a grasshopper in his design to create a "disturbing, mythical, eternal creature" to devour the minutes of life. The name of the clock, the Chronophage, literally means "time-eater".
The creature perches on top of the 1.5m face and is an integral part of the mechanics of the clock, which does not have hands or numbers. Every five minutes the clock "corrects" itself to remain functional.
The time is shown through light slits on the clock face.
Mr Taylor added: "I wanted to depict that time is a destroyer - once a minute is gone you can't get it back.
"That's why my grasshopper is not a Disney character. He is a ferocious beast that over the seconds has his tongue lolling out, his jaws opening, then on the 59th second he gulps down time."
To enable the creature to control the passing of time required numerous innovations, many of which the Manx inventor has patented.
The Midsummer Chronophage is the second time-eating clock he has made.
The first, the Corpus Clock, is installed outside the library at Corpus College in Cambridge, where Dr Taylor studied in the 1950s.
The inventor plans to make 15 in total and says he would like to engineer them on the Isle of Man.
"The Isle of Man has a superb reputation for watch-making so it would be fantastic to add clock-making as well."
Dr Taylor is also known for inventing the thermostat for the electric kettle.
Island watchmaker Roger W Smith will also exhibit at the show in London.