Fate of Geneva millennium hourglass to be known soon

Readers of the Tribune de Genève newspaper will decide by the end of the week where to put the centrepiece of Geneva's millennium celebrations, a giant hourglass that has not quite lived up to expectations.

This content was published on January 12, 2000 - 23:13

Readers of the Tribune de Genève newspaper will decide by the end of the week where to put the centrepiece of Geneva's millennium celebrations, a giant hourglass that has not quite lived up to expectations.

For the past three years, the private organisers of the event, Signé 2000, had been planning to build a world-beating Monument to Time that would measure a whole year without having to be turned over.

After lengthy negotiations with several Swiss watchmaking companies, which finally bore fruit in late 1998, the project fell through. Geneva's parliament said it was too expensive, forcing Signé 2000 to scale it down.

They failed to revive interest from the watchmaking industry, leaving them to turn to local carpenters and designers to build a smaller hourglass, and ran out of time to get planning permission for a permanent monument.

While the timepiece was inaugurated at the stroke of midnight on January 31, 1999 before a crowd of more than 200,000 people, it only lasts for up to a month before it must be flipped over again.

Phil Mundwiler, the originator of the idea, says everyone agreed that Geneva's millennium celebration needed a strong and durable symbol at its centre, so they did not give up. But the existing version of the hourglass, four tonnes of plastic and wood with an electric motor, must be kept indoors because it is not watertight.

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