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1292

JEHAN

L'AULOGIER

 The first known clock maker : Jehan 

Since the dawn of time, man has sought to measure time so as to better control it. Studying the cycle of day and night, the movements of the stars or the ebb and flow of the tides, he created measurement.devices of varying degrees of precision: the gnomon (a vertically positioned stick allowing the time of day to be established with regard to the sun), the sun dial, the hourglass or waterclock, well before conceiving of a mechanical clock. The first such clock is mentioned in Jehan de Meung's Roman de la Rose in the late twelfth century. Around that time, in 1292, we find records of the first French clock-maker, Jehan l'Aulogier.

 
1370

FIRST PUBLIC CLOCK AT THE ROYAL PALACE OF THE CITY

 First public clock at the Royal Palace in the city of Paris 
 

In the Middle Ages, mastery of time rapidly became a key to power, disputed among political and religious figures. Following the example of Saint Benoit, whose order defined so-called ''canonical'' hours dedicated to prayer, study or manual work, all religious orders adopted clocks to regulate life within their monasteries. In turn, the high dignitaries of the Catholic Church endowed their cathedrals with astronomical clocks to structure Christian life, as can still be seen today in Beauvais, Bourges, Strasbourg and Lyon.

Kings and lords, the holders of political power, took issue at this mastery of time on the part of religious authorities and were prepared to do anything to stop it. In Paris in 1370, King Charles V ordered Lorraine clock-maker Henri de Vic to build one of the first public clocks for the Palais de la Cité. He would then order that all of the kingdom's clocks should be synchronised with it and thenceforth continued to install further clocks in order to uphold the supremacy of time and the power of royalty over religion. Still admired today, the clock of the Palais de la Citè is framed by two large allegorical statues representing Law and Justice. Since the 14th century, it has had numerous restorations, the last of which was completed in 2012.

 
 
1518

JULIEN

COUDRAY

The first portable clock 

The miniaturisation of clocks had only just begun. We owe the first ''carry'' clocks to Julien Coudray, clock-maker to King Francis I. In 1518, he created a pair of small mechanical clocks which would adorn two daggers belonging to the French king. The presence of the royal Court in Blois transformed the town into a renowned centre for clock-making and it was a Blois clock-maker, Jacques Delagarde, who in 1551 would create the very first French watch, which remains famous to this day (it is kept in the Louvre).

When time measurement becomes a jewel: 

Goldsmith-watchmakers began to freely express their engraving talent. Silver or gold would sometimes replace cut brass. It was during this period that the first enamelled dials appeared. Little by little, table clocks gave way to smaller, highly ornate pocket watches, generally round or oval but sometimes octagonal or crossshaped. Protected by a metal or rock crystal cover, they had only an hour hand and remained imprecise. In 1582, thanks to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, the day was divided in two and dials adopted a twelve hour display. The first watches with added features came into being: some had an astronomical dial showing the movements of the planets while others had sounds, sundials or showed the phases of the moon...