Dutch Domestic Clocks
The English Way



Museum of the Dutch Clock
Zaanse Schans, Zaandam, The Netherlands.

April 17- October 31, 2004, 
Open daily 10.00-17.00 hours, monday closed.

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About the Museum


Before the pendulum
The first pendulum clocks
William and Mary style
Longcase clocks
Table clocks



Special exhibition about the exchange between Dutch and English clockmakers after the introduction of the pendulum clock by Christiaan Huygens. After Huygens en the London-based clockmakers family Fromanteel in 1658 introduced the clock with pendulum escapement to London, several English clockmakers like John and Ahasuerus II Fromanteel and Joseph Norris established workshops in Amsterdam. The exhibitions shows beautiful examples by these famous makers. In his turn Joseph Norris made Holland familiar with the longcase clock. The characteristic Hague Clock gave way to table clocks according to the English model. Also Dutch makers like Pieter Klock and Bernard van der Cloesen manufactured table clocks in the English way, apart from unmistakably still Hague features. Thus a curious table clock within the exhibition shows a striking mix between Hague tradition and English fashion awareness. The skeleton chaptering on a velvet covered dial is boxed in a clock case with brass basket and appliqués in William&Mary style. The style époque of King George I is illustrated by table clocks by Jacob van der Cloese, Roger Dunster and Allin Wallker. The exhibition is composed out of several private loans, joined by masterpieces from the National Museum from Musical Clock to Street Organ in Utrecht and the Dutch Gold, Silver and Clock Museum in Schoonhoven.

A full-color exhibition documentation (Eur. 7,50 ) accompanies the exhibition.


Already in the Middle Ages there are indications of Dutch clockmakers being active in England. The most important example of this is the safe-conduct for three clockmakers from Delft, Johan Lietuyt and John and Willem Uneman, during the reign of king Edward III from 1368.

A later example is Hans Nilve (Nilou) working in England around 1609, who made a musical clock for King James I. From this time on the lantern clock was the most important type of domestic clock in England. In The Netherlands the first domestic clocks characterised this period, originally equipped with a balance wheel as regulator.


Dutch table clock ‘Joseph Norris, Amsterdam’, c. 1675, so-called ‘Architectural Style’.
(click to enlarge)

In December 1656 Christiaan Huygens did his first successful experiment with a pendulum clock. The so-called ‘privilege’ was given to Salomon Coster from Haarlem to make Hague clocks according to this system.

Already September 3, 1657, a contract was made between Coster and John Fromanteel from London to work as an apprentice of Coster. Shortly after his return to England, the Fromanteel firm advertised “clocks that go exact and keep equaller time then any now made without this Regulator”.

Dutch table clock ‘Bern. van de Cloesen fecit Hagae’ 1690-1700
(click to enlarge)

After the first clock cases with a simple design, the case of the Hague clock evaluated to a form derived from classic architecture. This classicistic design of the Hague clock influenced the design of the English clock cases, the so-called architectural style.

Pierced basket, Bernard van de Cloesen, Leiden


In 1689 the Dutch Stadtholder William II became King of England by his marriage to Mary Stuart, daughter of the former English king. His court-architect Daniel Marot designed countless interiors and gardens in a sumptuous baroque style like that of Paleis Het Loo. This style is known as the William & Mary style. Marot also designed clock cases. These designs have been of great influence to the compositions of clocks by Thomas Tompion, court-clockmaker of William & Mary. The most renowned example is the first year clock, produced in silver, which was in use from 1689 on in the King’s bedroom (the so-called Mostyn Tompion, named after Lord Mostyn who sold the clock to the British Museum in 1998).

Hague clock ‘Fromanteel & Clarke’, 1700-1710
(click to enlarge)


From the first pendulum clocks evaluated the long- case clock in England, originally with a short pendulum. After the introduction of the anchor escapement by William Clement longcase clocks originated from approximately 1670 on equipped with a second pendulum of one meter length. A leading maker was Ahasuerus Fromanteel, the father of John. Joseph Norris, coming from London, introduced the longcase clock in The Netherlands after 1675. In addition to Norris, more English clockmakers settled in Amsterdam like the already mentioned John Fromanteel, Ahasuerus II and Abraham Fromanteel and Edward Brookes.


The influence of English clockmakers is most manifest in the production of Dutch table clocks after English design. These table clocks have a rectangular dial of matted brass with cherub spandrels and gilded ornaments. Generally the case has a handle enabling the clock to be carried around inside the house. From approximately 1710 on arched dials were used making the case taller. This so-called Georgian style has as most important makers in The Netherlands Fromanteel & Clarke, Clarke & Dunster, William Gib and Allin Walker.

The end of the 17th and increasingly the 18th century is characterised by international exchange and a growing industrialisation of the production of clocks. Proofs of overseas export of clock components and cases have been documented.

The English Henry Sully is a figure characteristic for this phenomenon, who after a stay in Leiden founded several clockmakers' workshops in France for which he hired tens of clockmakers from London.

A rule by the clockmakers’ guild from The Hague in 1711, that clocks should be signed with the makers name and place of origin, can be considered to be a reaction to this internationalisation. The rise of forgeries later on in the 17th century can be considered to be a consequence of this.


Kalverringdijk 3,
Zaanse Schans,
1509BT Zaandam,
The Netherlands.

Tel. -31-75-6179769
Fax -31-75-6157786

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Route by train:  from Amsterdam station to Koog-Zaandijk (15 min.) from there a ca 8 min. walk.

The Museum of the Dutch Clock has a unique collection of exclusively Dutch mechanical clocks.

The Museum illustrates the evolution of Dutch clockmaking between 1500 and 1850 by representative examples from the different periods.