French Skeleton Clock with Gregorian and Republican Calendar

French Skeleton Clock with Gregorian and Republican Calendar

Price: Price on request

Offered by Kollenburg Antiquairs BV

French Skeleton Clock with Gregorian and Republican Calendar French Skeleton Clock with Gregorian and Republican Calendar French Skeleton Clock with Gregorian and Republican Calendar French Skeleton Clock with Gregorian and Republican Calendar French Skeleton Clock with Gregorian and Republican Calendar French Skeleton Clock with Gregorian and Republican Calendar

A skeleton clock (pendule squelette) with 7 dials and 15 indications, signed: “Baudin”. The upper dial indicates the hour of the day in decimal time (10 hours per natural day). The large dial indicates duodecimal (conventional) time and two extra hands that respectively indicate the date in the Gregorian and the Republican calender. The lower central dial shows the phases of the moon calendar (Quantième De Lune) and the days in the moon calendar (29.5 days)

Beneath the three central dials, there are four more dials that respectively indicate:

Upper left: Zodiac with the respective constellations

Lower left: the outer ring indicates the day of the Republican décade, the inner ring indicates the day of the Gregorian week and its corresponding planet.

Upper right: the months and seasons of the Republican calender

Lower right: the months of the Gregorian calender.

The clockwork has a going train with pin wheel escapement and central seconds indication. The half-second grid pendulum has spring suspension. To level the mechanism there are set screws in each of the four legs.

The striking train for the quarter hours is located in the left leg and strikes on two bells (b1 & b2)

In the right leg there is a striking train for the hours (b3).

The quarter hour striking train strikes once at 15 minutes (b1), twice at 30 minutes (b1-b2) and three times at 45 minutes (b1-b2-b1). At the hour it strikes 4 times (b1-b2-b1-b2) and subsequently the hour at b3

The left striking train drives the hands of the two lower left dials, the right striking train drives the hands of the right dials. The left winding mechanism is wound clockwise, the right mechanism is wound counter clockwise. The windlasses of the respective springs are hidden behind the blue enamelled cover plates. The date and moondate are driven by the going train.


The Revolutionary calender

The storming of the Bastille on july 14. 1789 was the flashpoint of the French Revolution, that was kindled with the Estates-General of may 1789. It was the offset of tumultuous events. On september 22. 1792 the French Republic was founded. In their vigorous attempts to remove  all references to royalty and clergy from society the “Convention Nationale” proposes a new calendar on september 23. 1793. This was exactly one year after the founding of the Republique Française. On October 24. 1793 the new calendar was approved and introduced proleptically from the first day of the Republique. September 22. 1792 was now officially 1 Vendémiaire de l ‘An I de la Liberté. The design of the calender was commissioned to a triumvirate chaired by Charles-Gilbert Romme. His secondants were Claude Joseph Ferry and Charles-François Dupuis.

The calender had 12 months of equally 30 days. The months were divided into three periods or décades of ten days. Every year starts on the autumnal equinox (when the sun is exactly over the equator). The days left to make a full year after the twelve months, were called jours supplémentaires or sanculotides. These were the day of virtue, the day of genius, the day of labour, the day of opinion, and the day of recompense. In leap years (les années sextiles) the day of the revolution was added to this range. The period of four years that ended with the day of the revolution was called a Franciade.

The poet Fabré d’Églantine was commissioned to devise new names for the months and days. Together with André Thouin, head gardener of the “Jardin des Plantes du Muséum Nationale d’Histoire Naturelle”, he came to the following result.


Mois d’automne

Months of the Fall


Période de vendanges

22 september – 21 october



Période de brumes et des brouillards

22 october – 20 november


Période de froids (frimas)

21 november – 20 december

Mois d’hiver

Months of Winter


Période de la neige

21 december – 19 januari



Période des pluies

20 januari – 18 februari


Période de vents

19 februari – 20 march

Mois du printemps

Months of Spring


Période de la germination

21 march – 19 april



Période de l’épanouissement des fleurs

20 april – 19 may



Période de la récolte des priairies

20 may – 18 june

Mois d’été

Months of Summer


Période des moissons

19 june – 18 july



Période des chaleurs

19 july – 17 august


Période des fruits

18 august – 16 september


The days of the décades were called: primedi, duodi, tridi, quartidi, quintidi, sextidi, septidi, octidi, nonidi, and décadi. Every day of the year also got its own name to replace the Catholic saints days. It was decided that days were given names of fruits, vegetables, animals, tools etcetera. The quintidis should get the name of an animal, the décadis were to be given the name of agricultural implements.


Decimal time


It was the philosopher Marquis de Condorcet who promoted a universal system of measurement. With the help of Maurice de Talleyrand he tried to inspire the British and American Governments to come to a universal system of measurements “for all people for all time”. This international attempt failed, but the French made an effort to harmonize their own fragmented system. Already in 1754 Jean d’Alembert wrote in the Encyclopédie that a division of weights and measures from tens into tens would be preferable and much more clear. In 1788 Claude Boniface Collignon proposed to divide a day into ten hours, which were to be 1000 minutes. This system was, for the most part, adopted by the French Government on November 24. 1793. The day – from midnight to midnight – was to be divided in ten equal parts or hours, an hour in ten equal parts of each ten decimal minutes, and minutes into 100 decimal seconds. The law also decreed that watches and clocks were manufactured with the new decimal system. It was not until september 22. 1794 (1. Vendémiaire III) that decimal time was statutory. It was, however, not very successful. Ongoing resistance by the people made the Government overturn the statutory use of decimal time on april 7. 1795 (18. Germinal III). That made decimal time exactly last for 199 days under Republican law.

The timepieces manufactured during this period were mainly pocket watches. Mantel clocks were produced in much smaller amounts, and often displayed both decimal and duodecimal time. There are also a few tower clocks of this type known. It was explicitely stated that no new complications were devised, but existing technology be adapted to fit the new time measurement. Simple watches would need only one hand, so it was thought, and for more precise applications clocks with two or more hands could be manufactured. There was no standard version. Therefore we see dials that indicate midnight at the top, and also, as it was meant to be, dials with midnight at the bottom. The hour indication, however, always starts at the top.

Although the decimal time only lasted for just under 200 days, the Republican calender persisted until december 31. 1805. On januari 1. 1806 Napoleon Bonaparte reinstated the Gregorian calender. Whereas decimal time never caught on, the developments during the French Revolution did lay the foundation for the SI system.

ca. 1793-1795
gilt bronze, enamelled dials, whit marble
49 x 17 x 27 cm

Offered by

Kollenburg Antiquairs BV

Postbus 171
5688 ZK Oirschot
The Netherlands

+31 499578037
+31 655822218

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