When should a clock start striking?

A clock that strikes the hours should make the first strike at the very second of the hour - any argument? Whether it’s 1:00 or 12:00, the first bing, bong or boom should come precisely at x:00:00.0.

What about chiming clocks? Should the chime sound as an alert, with the first strike coming at “dot zero,” or should the chime begin at the dot of the hour?

I don’t know if it’s universal, but the hammer strikes Big Ben exactly on the hour.

For clocks on towers, the timing should be that the sound of the first bell reaches the nearest possible listener at precisely the top of the hour (or quarter or half). So for a tall clock it may have to chime a fraction of a second before the hour so that the nearest listener hears it at the exact correct time.

When you hit a 13½ ton bell with a 500lb hammer, the *precise *timing may vary a bit.


I once recorded a friend who was playing my Rhodes electric piano, on a reel-to-reel tape deck, back in the 70’s. He was monitoring using headphones. When he was done, I noticed that I had his monitor set to “monitor off tape”, so he was hearing everything he played about a half or quarter second later. Yet the timing on the track was spot on. I was awed. His reply was that it was way easier than carillon, because at least the delay was the same for all the notes! It didn’t phase him a bit.

I’d take that as, um, canon.

Not that I can do anything about it. One of the household treasures is a Presidential case clock, and I have it tweaked to phenomenal accuracy for a mechanical movement. I don’t think there’s any way to adjust the striking time to accommodate the different quarter-hour chime lengths, so it would be off for the three quarters if it were on for the hour. (For those who don’t know, clock chimes are four cumulative parts - there’s a first-quarter tune at 15 after, which is played followed by the second-quarter tune at half past, both of which are played followed by the third-quarter tune at 45, and then all four are played at the hour.)

I could adjust it so the first strike of the hour was on the dot, but the first three quarters would be off by a number of seconds. Not worth it. I’ll live with the chime announcing the hour.

When negotiations for higher wages reach an impasse.

And you may ask “Why would a clock need wages?”, but really, what’s it meant to do - buy everything on tick?

Well - they put coins on Big Ben’s clock pendulum to regulate it:)

Might a clock strike for shorter (or indeed longer) hours?

Purely an opinion, but I would prefer the first bong of the hour strike to be correct. The quarters are less important.