Roger Wood's latest haul of wheeled, steampunk clocks

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Of all the things to make steampunk, clocks feel like pretty low-hanging fruit.


Yes, but self-driving clocks? That’s what I’m talking about!

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This is my Steampunk rant:

What bugs me the most about Steampunk (apart from electroswing) is turning engineering into a mere aesthetic fetish. Take an object. Hot glue some cogs on it. Spray paint it gold. Hey, it’s Steampunk! The beauty of engineering isn’t in the shape of cogs or the colour of brass, it’s in the function. You can certainly make a beautifully functional thing pretty. Crossness pumping station for example:

But look, it was a machine first and then someone went to town with the filigree and enamel paints. Doing it the other way round rather misses the point of what the industrial revolution was actually about.

The actual timekeeping part of these clocks appears to be a bog standard quartz movement. The rest is all just set dressing. Now I’ve got nothing against pretty clocks, but if you’re going to make them look like they’re interesting mechanisms, then they really should be actual mechanisms.

This gearwheel screams silently for eternity, waiting for a meshing that never comes.


I liked the idea of Steampunk, but so much of it is just hot gluing past mechanical achievements from another age onto other items.

I think of Steampunk in relation to horology as butchery. While I know most people are not practicing horologists, and they just appreciate clockwork, since I went to school to learn professional horology for a couple years, and I do restore and work on antique pieces (1940s to 1740s ish) occasionally, I do.

When I see actual valuable parts being chopped up I just get angry.

There is perfectly reasonable steampunk that doesn’t chop up good clocks, plenty of industrial gears that are to long scrapped non valuable machinery, valves, etc- and thats perfectly ok. As long as it’s done skillfully and it’s not destroying something valuable I can still enjoy it just like anyone else, provided theres no hot glue.

For the record, for a short period of time, I worked directly with someone who took very old watch movements and made new dials and cases in the fashion of really cheesy steampunk. I was the guy making the stuff work and I was fixing watches at some points that were 200 years old to be put into cases that just looked childish, by a kind man, but none the less a man who had no formal training and often used Super Glue to hold screws in place. I was repairing and rejeweling antique watch mainplates, while this man superglued, epoxied, whatever he could just to make things work.

To this day I am ashamed of what I, for a very short time, helped in the butchery of. I myself did not do anything wrong but I helped someone who did. Granted most of the pieces were not very valuable, but it still hurt to know how he was butchering history for a quick buck. To anyone that does the same with a timepiece I have no respect for and will never forgive.

Steampunk is a dangerous thing.


This 3D printed functioning Steam Punk mechanical switch celebrates the invention of electricity.

Well yeah thats why these clocks are not steampunk.

I should try interfacing this very old morse key with a raspberry pi. Thats not steampunk either but it has a little bit more authenticity.


Ouch. I suppose I can understand the sentiment. Clearly you care about your craftsmanship and that of the people who made the mechanisms in the first place. But it seems to me that if you were helping to ensure that the old movements were being restored and kept in use, then that’s a positive thing.

I suppose if it were the case that the old watches would have otherwise been restored and cherished in their originally intended form that would be one thing but was that likely?

This way at least the movement survives. I don’t think you need feel ashamed.

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