Matthew King

Clockmaker creates iconic replica of the first John Harrison clock

by Northern Life

Clock in the butlers pantry Nostell Priory
Clock in the butlers pantry Nostell Priory

Matthew King from Time Traveller Clocks is now taking commissions for replicas of clocks steeped in history

Following his experience restoring a client’s John Harrison clock, specialist clockmaker Matthew King has created what is believed to be the first ever replica of the earliest Harrison wooden clock, originally produced in 1713 by Yorkshire-born John Harrison, who later succeeded in solving the problem of calculating longitude while at sea.

To make the clock replica, self-taught clockmaker Matthew had no guides or instructions, but instead took much of his direction from the original Harrison clocks and his own research. The project was a true exploration of Matthew’s passion.

“While the process was extremely labour intensive, much of the evidence I needed was witnessed in the original,” said Matthew, who runs his own business Time Traveller Clocks in Surrey. “I was set upon aligning my technique and construction processes in accordance with the evidence from the object and therefore staying authentic to the spirit and detail of Harrison’s original craftsmanship.”

The few original Harrison clocks on public exhibition are in London and Wakefield. While exhibited, the clocks are naturally “off limits” to physical engagement, and personal ownership of an original Harrison clock is obviously impossible. As Matthew continues his work in making replicas and researching the historic context, he seeks to develop the closest alternative: an example embedded in the same historical craft.

“Replica clocks provide an opportunity for their owners to take a journey into the mind of Harrison himself and connect with the amazing history of Harrison today,” said Matthew. “I am passionate about staying true to Harrison’s original designs, methods and practices as I understand them to ensure the replicas are a homage to the original artistry. My clocks are individually unique, as indeed are the historical examples.”

Matthew has over three decades of experience working on period clock cases and important furniture pieces, and a wealth of expert contacts that he works with to complete large projects like the Harrison clock replica. He is now taking orders and commission for replicas.

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