“The Clock” by Christian Marclay


“The Clock” by artist Christian Marclay is perhaps the most epic of functioning clocks in existence. No, it does not have a crazy mechanism at it heart, it is not made of diamonds or high-tech plastics, rather it is a 24 hour long film montage composed of thousands of scenes from films in which a clock or watch appears with the time. The film is then played synchronized with real time, and as such functions as a real clock.

Yet, “The Clock” is not so simple or stagnant as a 24 hour stream of clocks and watches. For every timepiece shown, Marclay included the sound, dialogue, actors and surrounding context of the moment. Except for the time, there is no connecting theme. The scenes jump around, not only in terms of the situation but the period in which the original film was made. The overall effect is a sort of controlled chaos, where the normally abstract concept of time, something that is intentionally distorted in film, becomes the only constant, the only theme progressing the film. Of course, perhaps to even see it in terms of “plot” is missing the point, and rather it should be seen as a physical object, the clock it refers to, and every moment is just time captured regardless of who, what and where is representing it.


From the perspective of a watch enthusiast “The Clock” is also a fantastic catalog of timepieces in film. Though I have not seen all 24hrs, you can quickly make out a Hamilton in the clip above, as well as Big Ben and various wall clocks. This description from a NY Times article on the “The Clock” says it “…includes clocks of the wall, mantel, grandfather and bedside-table variety; clocks on steeples, towers, dashboards and bombs; and clocks in train stations, shop windows and spaceships as well as the occasional hourglass and sundial. And then there are watches, which are smashed, pawned, handed down from father to son, and used as weapons. (All the James Bonds are here.) They slide down the wrists of murder victims, turn up at crime scenes and even provide forensic evidence.”


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Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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