Today, keeping time is essential. Whether a small analogue wrist watch or the digital displays on a multitude of domestic devices, the ways in which we keep track of time are innovative and varied. Sometimes though, they’re also absolutely massive.
Humans first kept time by observing the sun, moon and stars. From around 1500 BC, the ancient Egyptians and later the Greeks and Chinese, used sundials and water clocks.
Mechanical clocks were invented in the latter part of the thirteenth century and between the late fifteenth and early seventeenth centuries, luminaries such as Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo and Christiaan Huygens invented and perfected the pendulum clock.
Today, the most accurate clocks in the world are atomic clocks that use lasers to measure the vibration of atoms which move at a constant frequency, similar in many ways to the motion of a pendulum.
When it comes to clock design, there’s everything from diamond-encrusted jewelled watches to simple plastic alarms and all manner of options in between. Among this plethora of clock designs, are the vast clocks found in buildings, towers and other locations, and they’re astonishingly large.
This list of the largest clocks in the world doesn’t include temporary clocks such as floral or laser clocks, so without further ado, it’s time to discover some of the biggest clocks in the world including the world’s largest clock. The world’s biggest clock and the pretenders to the throne are below. Take a minute to find out just how big they are.
Torrazo of Cremona
Location: Cremona, Italy | Diameter: 8.2 metres
The stunning bell tower of the Cathedral of Cremona in northern Italy is home to what is believed to be the largest astronomical clock in the world. It was built by father and son Francesco and Giovan Battista Divizioli in the 1580s, and even if it isn’t the biggest clock in the world overall, it is one of the most beautiful.
St. Peter Church
Location: Zurich, Switzerland | Diameter: 8.64 metres
It may not be the world’s biggest clock but the clock on the 1706 tower of St Peter is the largest clock in Europe. The minute hands measure 5.73 metres and the hour hand just over five metres. The original clock which the current occupant replaced was installed in the late 1200s, and for centuries it was the clock to which all others in Zurich conformed.
NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building
Location: Tokyo, Japan | Diameter: 15 metres
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of NTT Docomo, one of Japan’s major mobile phone operators, the largest clock face in the country was installed onto the 240-metre tall NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building. The building was completed in 2000 and the clock was added two years later.
Duquesne Brewery Clock
Location: Pennsylvania, USA | Diameter: 18 metres
America’s biggest clock is the Duquesne Brewery Clock. When it was built in 1933, it was the largest clock face in the world. Over the years it has been used to advertise anything from beer and soft drinks to gas and telecom companies. The minute hand is eleven metres long and the hour hand is 7.6 metres long.
Centro do Brasil
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | Diameter: 20 metres
When it was built in 1943, the beautiful Art Deco clock tower at the Centro do Brasil railway station – the last stop on Rio’s rail network – was one of the tallest in the world, and it boasted the world’s biggest clock. Today, it’s no longer the largest clock in the world but is still an incredible sight on Rio’s skyline.
Istanbul Cevahir Mall
Location: Istanbul, Turkey | Diameter: 36 metres
The second biggest clock ever built is in the glass roof of the Istanbul Cevahir Shopping and Entertainment Centre, one of the world’s largest shopping malls. The digits on the clock are around three metres high and it was installed in 2005.
Makkah Royal Clock Tower
Location: Mecca, Saudi Arabia | Diameter: 43 metres
The largest clock face in the world is on the Makkah Royal Clock Tower overlooking Mecca’s Grand Mosque. Each of the four identical clock faces is covered with 98 million tiny glass mosaic tiles. The size of the world’s biggest clock is truly staggering. Each minute hand is twenty-three metres long and the hour hand is eighteen metres long. They weigh six tonnes each, approximately the same as an African elephant.