The interesting and fruitful relationship that art and engineering have maintained with the manner in which time is measured is evident in the Antique Clock Museum, which Grassy opened in Gran Via 1 in 1953. Part of the clock collection which make up this “live museum”, meaning fully functioning pieces or those which could be made to work, come from one of the most important international collections belonging to private collector Pérez de Olaguer-Feliu. The collection mainly features English and French XVIII th and XIXth century pieces. Alexandre Grassy a passionate enthusiast of old clocks and watches, completed the collection with interesting pieces which he slowly acquired. The exhibit is an excellent history lesson about watchmaking trends and evolution, until mid XIXth century when mass production began.. The collection includes examples of automatic clocks, carriage clocks, similar to pocket-watches but larger and with tough cases to protect them against blows while travelling. Also grandfather clocks with pendulums once upon a time indispensable part of home furnishings, tabletop and wall clocks, the latter designed to hang on the wall. In time and with functionality in mind, “skeleton clocks” appeared without ornamentation, shamelessly displaying their naked mechanism. The collection clearly shows the difference between French and English clocks. The French ones were made of bronze gilded with mercury giving considerable relevance to ornamentation, often inspired by mythology. However the English clocks were characteristic for their austerity, the use of wood and the incorporation of handles to transport them.
The most important pieces of the collection are: a planetary clock or Copernico signed by Rango, incorporating the movement of the solar system elements; a clock by James Cox, famous for his ingenious and automatic mechanisms, a very rare piece in a private collection; a few XVIII th and XIX th century tabletop automatic clocks with themes ranging from a bucolic landscape to a clock with the figure of a monkey dressed in a polychromed doublet and a ruff who moves his eyes and looks at himself in the mirror when the clock strikes the hours while his minder hits him with a rod. One cannot miss the double faced grand Chinese tabletop clock, made of golden bronze, enamel and beading precious stones, which one one side represents a country scene and on the other a fluvial one with automatons.
The museum can be visited booking in advance.
+00 34 91 532 1007
Gran Vía 1, Madrid
Photos: David Reznak