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In photos A Swiss village clock is restored

The clockface on the tower of the Protestant church in Möriken is shining again. For the past few months the village was without time - without numerals, hands and ringing bells. The customary glance at the church clock on the way to the train station showed a void.

The history of mechanical tower clocks goes back to the 14th century. One of the first Swiss movements was assembled in Lucerne in 1385 by Heinrich Halder, a watchmaker from Basel. In 1408, the same clock was moved to the Musegg clock tower, allowing ships on Lake Lucerne to calibrate their sailing times according to the clock. 

The Möriken clock is not nearly so old. The church was inaugurated on 15 October 1950 and it still keeps its original appearance to this day. The clock was made by J. G. Baer from Sumiswald in the Emmental, in 1950 -  factory number 790.  

When the parish decided to renovate the clock and tower, it awarded the contract to the company in Büron, canton Lucerne. There are only three companies left that control the ‘church technology’ market in Switzerland. There are an estimated 5,000 timepieces that need to be serviced, repaired or even overhauled.

The movements were disassembled in the Büron workshop. More than 100 individual parts were cleaned and reassembled once the bearings had been freshly polished. In the church tower, the clock’s original pendulum is working again. In recent years, an electromechanical drive had performed this task, but today the clock has been restored to its original condition.  

Technicians mounted a new magnet at the top of the pendulum. The clock’s accuracy can be checked and, if necessary, corrected by means of electrical impulses.

The dial is newly lacquered. The numerals and hands were carefully cleaned and dust blasted, primed and then coated with an adhesive on which wafer-thin gold leaf was applied.

At the end of September, fitters climbed the scaffolding and screwed the clock into the façade. The church has regained its face, allowing passers-by to make to their next appointment in time.

All pictures and text by Thomas Kern/

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