Precisely seventy years ago, a Swiss designer designed a Swiss clock. A Swiss clock that has gone on to become a railway icon.
Apart from its design, the clock has one other unique feature in how it works.
The second hand takes 58.5 seconds to rotate around by 59 seconds, then the second hand pauses. It waits until a nationwide pulse is sent to every Swiss railway clock that a minute has passed, then the clock jumps to the minute and carries on for another 58.5 seconds.
It’s part of that railway’s famous accuracy and timekeeping.
If you want to see these clocks synchronize in unison, then a Swiss railway station would seem the place to be.
…or London maybe?
In fact, there is a cluster of Swiss railway clocks here in London. At Canary Wharf to be precise.
Back in 1999, Canary Wharf wanted a “village square clock” as a meeting place next to the soon to be completed Jubilee Line station, and put out a tender. To everyone’s surprise rather than one clock, they went for six of them.
The design, by Konstantin Grcic has one slight difference from the Swiss clocks, in that each face only has one numeral. With six clocks and twelve faces, the numbers on the clocks collectively add up to make a single face.
If you are particularly clever, you can say you will meet under the 4 clock at 4 O’clock.
Other than that, they behave exactly like their Swiss counterparts, with a seconds hand that also takes 58.5 seconds to reach the 59th second.