11 Images

Timekeeping through the ages

An illustration of a candle clock is shown in an early 14th century copy of an Al-Jazaris treatise on automata. As the candle burns down, the line on the side of the candle indicates the time. (Smithsonian)
A diagram of a water clock, also known as a clepsydra, circa 1819. The water clock dates back to 1400 BC in Egypt. In this model, water enters the device and raises the figure, which points to the current hour of the day. Spillover water operates a series of gears that rotates a cylinder so that hour lengths are appropriate to the date. (Wikipedia)
The last of four astronomical clocks designed and built by Norwegian Rasmus Sørnes (1893-1967), this machine features locations of the sun and moon in the zodiac, the Julian and Gregorian calendar, local time with daylight saving time and leap year, solar and lunar cycle corrections, eclipses, local sunset and sunrise, moon phases, tides, sunspot cycles and a planetarium including Pluto’s 248-year orbit. All wheels are in brass and gold-plated, with silver-plated dials. (Wikipedia)
The hourglass uses two glass bulbs connected by a narrow opening. Sand drains from one bulb to the other in a set period of time such as one hour. Although it dates back to at least the 14th century, it’s still popular in board games. (Wikipedia)
A classic 25-jewel Hamilton pocket watch from a collection of more than 500 belonging to Richard Chapple of Simi Valley. One of the earliest references to pocket watches was in a 1462 letter from an Italian clockmaker that referred to “pocket clocks.” (Carlos Chavez / LAT)
Antique pocket watches clutter a work bench. The spread of railroads in the U.S. led to the popularity of the timepiece, although by about WWI it began to be overshadowed by the wristwatch. (Annie Wells / LAT)
This sundial is one of several in the Palace Museum of the Forbidden City in Beijing. It’s the oldest known device for measuring time, dating back to Babylon circa 2000 BC. When the sun hits the upright “gnomon” in the center of the sundial, the shadow points to the time of day. (Lawrence K. Ho / LAT)
Stonehenge, Britain’s prehistoric collection of circularly arranged megaliths, is typically thought of as an astronomical observatory that was used for pagan celebrations at the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. (Scott Barbour / Getty Images)
“The People’s Council,” a sculpture at the Laguna Beach City Hall, features three figures sitting around a black obelisk that serves as a sundial, casting shadows over such words as “happiness,” “freedom,” “fertility” and “safety.” (Glenn Koenig / LAT)
AT&T’s time-telling service is going the way of the rotary phone, with the company deciding to discontinue its time-of-day recording. At least the old-school rotary piece can still function as wall art. (Andreas Rentz / Getty Images)
The iPhone could be considered the most modern timepiece -- and then some. The multifunctional device lets you talk on the phone, surf the Web, listen to music, send emails, and yes, it’ll also give you the time of day. (Mario Tama / Getty Images)