When you think about clock making does Michigan come to mind? It should. Rick Hale is a self-taught clockmaker based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, building phenomenal large-scale clocks completely by hand. Large-scale perhaps doesn’t do these clocks justice. Some of his wheels are eight feet in diameter! This giant size makes it easy to appreciate some of the finer movement details that are often overlooked in watches or even normal size clocks. In addition, Hale’s clocks are not cased and do not include dials. The entire movement is on display and the results are absolutely beautiful.
There are plenty of woodworking plans for clocks available today using somewhat standard escapements, gear trains and motion works. Hale’s clocks are anything but standard, as they feature grasshopper escapements, daisy wheel motion work and worm gears. The daisy wheel motion work is particularly interesting. It is an obscure 18th century planetary gear mechanism which simplifies the traditional motion work that we see in both clocks and watches today.
Hale cites John Harrison as inspiration for his work. Harrison is the famous inventor of the marine chronometer which enabled accurate navigation at sea. What you may not know about Harrison is that he started out as a carpenter, and many of his early clocks are wooden. Like Harrison, Hale uses lignum vitae wood in many of his clocks to eliminate the need for traditional lubrication.
The purpose of any clock is of course to tell the time, but Hale points out a different aim for his work. “My timepieces have a different aim. Rather than simply tell the current time (which they do), they also do something a little less tangible and a lot more important: They center you in the present moment.”