The Clock Museum unique among the museums from Romania, opened its gates in the year 1963, in a hall belonging to Palatul Culturii (The Palace of Culture) from Ploiesti, by the care of professor Nicolae Simache, manager of History Museum between 1954-1971.
Subsequently, the collection of clocks was brought into a building that had been constructed at the end of the 19th century; it belonged to Luca Elefterescu, a well-known coservative politician during the early decades of the 20th century, with several mandates of prefect of Prahova County. Those who visit the museum have the occasion to follow the way in which the means of measuring the time had developped, from the first "clocks"- the sun dial, the burning clocks, the clocks with water (the outline of the clock with water being taken over from d'Horologerie Ancienne) or the clocks with sand-
up to the "ancient" mechanical and modern ones.
These wonderful works of horology are, often, not only the products of well-known horologers, but of men of art as well, who contributed in the way that they made the clocks as attractive as they could, creating even styles in this domain. Among the oldest pieces of the collection we name the and type pendules, made of golden bronze, engraved or cut, sometimes with enamelled dials.
The oldest of the clocks, dated 1562, additionally asserts the intercrossing of preocupations for calculating time and for astronomy, as it has astronomical dials.
We feel morally obliged to name, among the most valuable works of the museum's collection, the pendules, with long cabinet and rich chiselled bronze decorations, gold pieces, exotic veneer or inlaid work. The symbols are present: the sun, the time, the child with the hourglass in his hand. The metal dial is ornated in its turn, with little enamel plates on which the ciphers are engraved.
The rococo style is underlined by a few works: one of them had been created in Paris at horologer's Brulfer firm, in the 18th century having a wooden painted case, another work, of small dimenssions, moulded in brass thin paper, is decorated with a policrom enamel painting, showing a gallant scene.
Among these clocks, there is one of immense beauty, a piece - a pedestal pendule - with high cabinet and supple white marble and golden bronze decorations. It is the work of some French artists from the 18th century and it was created at the request of an Austrian sleeping partner, August Klein, whose name is mentioned on the dial.
The hearth pendule Louis XVI is another type of clock that can be identified in the museum's halls. It brings the note of refined feeling that appeared in the artistic taste during the second half of the 18th century.
The urn like clock, made of Sevres porcelain, the pendule with venata marble columns or the small table lock suspended between colonades, covered with an encaille enamel are some of the most beautiful exemplaries of the collection.
Most of the time, elements belonging to this style are found along other ornaments that belong to various artistic styles, producing that composite order, so characteristic for the 19th century.
The beginning of this century will impose a new artistic style - Empire. The hall pendules created in this manner, distinguish through the plasticity of feminine figures, the refinedly work done with the chisel and the grandeur of the artistic composition.
will also be made at the insisting commands of some Romanian citizens adressed to firms from abroad. Thus, horologer Schuller from Brasov obtains a clock, created in this style, in order to use it for advertising purposes.The pendulum, in lyre-like form, enriches the beautiful decorations. The piece, having a musical mechanism, too, represents a great attraction for the visitors.
The exhibition of Nicolae Simache collection would not be complete if we did not mention a few things about the clocks that are put in the paintings or "the paintings with clocks", an attribute of the Biedermeier style. "TÓrgoveti la Salzburg" and "Tablou cu scena de bivuac" are two works that are shown at Muzeul Ceasului, together with another gendre of "painting with clock", in which the pictural element had been replaced by bronze or brass ornaments.
The German horologers became famous at the beginning of the 18th century by making the wall pendules, with hand made mechanismes, kept in artistically sculpted cases, with flora and fauna motives, having a special charm in the way they announce the hours with birds (the cuckoo, the quail or with flute and shepard's pipes players.
Muzeul Ceasului from Ploiesti shows us such "folk clocks", some with simple or double ringing with flute players, some others quite monumental, with rich ornamental design, dated in the 18th and the 19th centuries.
The folk influence inspired the creation of the wall clocks in straight cases, made by lathering. Some of them are created in Romania, having German or Austrian mechanismes.
Imposing as well, is the pendulum created in Ploiesti in 1934; it had been probably made at Scoala de Arte si meserii of that time.
The pocket watches belonging to the museum's collection are the expression of the way in which science, technique and art have contributed to the creation of one of the finest and most minute machinery.
In the history of the pocket watch, invented around 1500 by Peter Henlein from Nuremberg, other names of celebrated horologers will be inscribed: Ralf Gout, Th. With, George and Edward Prior, Benjiamin Balber and others, as well as firms producing clocks/watches, which appear in impressive number beginning with the half of the 20th century.
Among the most valuable works we mention the hand-made clocks, created by great English, French and Dutch horologers. They reveal mechanisms of functioning, winding ringing and they were carefully created in the 17th and the 18th centuries. The chain spindle mechanism would frequently appear, being continuously improved. The gong or bell ringing belongs, also, to the beginning of the mechanical horology. Another characteristic of these clocks is the metal dial. The protection case, most of the times made of silver or baga, deep shaped (of Byzantine type), is composed of three lids. Since the first pocket watches had been made up to the moment when prestigious firms, such as Schaffhausen, Omega, Zenith, Patek Philippe and others began to create clocks, there is a span of time of two centuries. All this time the clocks reached to a high level of technical and artistic expression.
The museum's collection contains a significant number of exemplars that had been created at Swiss, French, German, English or American firms in the 19th and the 20th centuries.
The clocks that had been set up in Paris, London or Liverpool workshops are also present in the collection. In their case the art of decoration is obvious.
The jewel clocks, artfully created, are made of gold or silver, decorated with exquisite engravings and precious stones or with enamels of different nuances. The clocks are painted or decorated with floral, geometrical motives etc.
Distinguished by their beauty, are the clocks that belonged to the Romanian kings
Carol I and Carol II, those of Tzar Alexander II, the clock of the poet Vasile Alecsandri and the pendant clock of Mihail Kogalniceanu's daughter, as well as the pieces that came from the firms Genevieve Sandoz, Oudin and others.
A special lace is occupied by the clocks of great personalities, important representants of the Romanian culture and political life from the past: Constantin BrÓncoveanu, Alexandru Ioan Cuza. Cezar Bolliac, Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu, Ion Luca Caragiale, Duiliu Zamfirescu, Ioan Al. Bassarabescu, Alexandru Moruzzi, Mihail Kogalniceanu, Theodor Aman, Nicolae Iorga, Pastorel Teodoreanu and others.
The collection also contains some curious clocks, such as: "the invisible clock", with transparent dial and a hidden-in-frame mechanism; the "steam factory" (in miniature) made in Paris in 1800; The miller's clock, the barber's clock, the umbrella-clock, created in England; the painting-clock with mobile figurines or the stamp-clock.
A last surprise for the visitors of Muzeul Ceasului, the musical boxes, which function with the help of a mechanism similar to that of a clock. The invention is dated at the end of the 19th century, when in Europe and America the devices for musical recordings began to get known.
In Romania, around 1900, you could find the barrel organ, the automated cembalo, the pianola, the symphonion, the mechanical piano. The cardboard record, the metal record, the drilled tape were commercialized in rollers or in pockets. These constituted the first domains of application of the automated command: following a "program", actionning piano keyboards, organ pipes, bigger or smaller bells.
In the important towns of the country you had the possibility of purchasing the new devices for sonorous rendition. The specialized shops sold: crank gramophone, table gramophone, "His Master's Voice" devices and others.
Last update: April 23, 1999. Web: Cornelia Calin