Time Standard

big ben
Courtesy of http://pixabay.com/en/england-great-britain-london-77214/

The United Kingdom has gained prominence in setting world clocks due to its Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) standard, but the country’s most popular clock is probably “Big Ben.” Since 1858, “Big Ben” has helped the citizens of London, England keep time. Located at the Palace of Westminster, this clock is the largest four-faced chiming clock and third-tallest free-standing time-keeping tower in the world. Amazingly, the time clock is not really very old compared to the long history of the City of London.

Augustus Pugin designed the “Big Ben” tower and clock in the Gothic Revival style making it stand 315 feet (96 meters). The base of the clock is Anston Limestone with 334 limestone stairs to the top (there is no elevator or lift). The “hour” hand measures 9 feet (2.7 meters) and the “minute” hand measures 14 feet (4.3 meters) long. Like a stained-glass church window, the clock dials are surrounded by 312 pieces of opal glass.

Reliable Big Ben Tower Leans Slightly

The true test of any time piece is its accuracy and “Big Ben” has achieved world-renown due to its precision due to the expertise of Clockmaker Edward John Dent, who used the three-legged gravity escapement design pattern. This separates the pendulum and clock mechanism. In the modern era, it is a bit surprising, but old penny coins are used to adjust the weight of the pendulum – one penny modifies the clock’s speed by 0.4 seconds per day.

The original bell developed a crack and was replaced. The replacement bell weighs 13.76 tonnes. During its construction, the tower developed a slight lean. When the local subway line was extended, this made the lean worse to the point where you can actually see it, like the “Tower of Pisa.” When people discuss the accuracy, precision and reliable time-keeping mechanisms of the world, “Big Ben” remains high on the list.

Time-keeping technology has improved dramatically over the history of man. You should keep up with the times to make sure you are benefitting from what is now available. Shop now to make sure you have an accurate time clock to signal breaks, shift changes and other events for your business. Time is money so investing here will be money well spent.


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