Museum Zaanse Tijd shows a room full of Dutch timepieces from different centuries. The famous Dutch scientist and ‘homo universalis’ Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) acts as a guide. The new presentation includes many masterpieces, such as 17th-century ‘Hague clocks’, including one with a full calendar. Complex dials in 18th-century longcase clocks illustrate the astronomical interest of VOC and WIC shareholders in Amsterdam and Hoorn. The introduction of steamships and trains in the 19th century required international standardisation through marine chronometers and regulators. ‘Journey through Time’ challenges the visitor not only to look behind the scenes of time, but also to wonder where time comes from and what role it still plays in our era.

Featured: Late Medieval Turret Clock

This is a late medieval turret timepiece with foliot. It’s maker is anonymous and dates from about 1520. Mechanical clocks are made since the end of the 13th century. These were mainly used in churches and monasteries. The division of the day was still in lengthening and shortening hours. In the summer months, the variable daytime hours lasted longer than the nighttime hours, and vice versa in the winter months. This was arranged by moving weights on the foliot at sunrise and sunset. Only around the spring and autumn equinoxes (March 21 – September 21) day and night hours are equal in length. With the invention of the pendulum clock by Christiaan Huygens in 1656, 60-minute hours became fashionable all year round. The weights of this turret clock are recycled cannonballs.

Featured: The ‘Knip’

The Amsterdam watchmaker Gerrit Knip made this exceptional longcase clock in a veneered Louis XVI case. Above the full-calendar chapter ring are rotating discs and hands to indicate the phases of the moon, the times of sunrise and sunset, and the constellations of the Northern Hemisphere. Around this you can see a ring with 17 town names, on which the local time can be seen, starting from Amsterdam (top) at 12 o’clock. This optical location of the stars and local times across the continents was relevant to merchants holding shares in the Dutch East and West India Companies.

Being a clock isn’t that easy…

Come in and try to be one at Museum Zaanse Tijd! In our new exhibition Journey through Time, a nice photo moment has been added. Stand in front of the big clock face, spread your arms, lift your legs and for a moment become part of a real clock.

Museum Shop

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