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A good Japanese shitan striking pillar clock or shaku dokei, circa 1840


The movement

The brass movement with 1.5-day duration has beautifully turned baluster pillars. The shaped front plate has pierced and engraved chrysanthemums above and below a revolving dial. A mock pendulum for the verge escapement it’s arbor set in a ruby stone just below the top plate. The separate striking mechanism is used as driving weight and slowly descents in the case.

The case

The shitan wood case with glazed sides. The hood has a slide-up front panel. The trunk holds a lacquered sector for regular time and a sector with adjustable numerals (toki). These toki hold a pin at the back tripping the striking mechanism when passing. At the bottom there is a small drawer housing the winding key.

Japanese temporal hours

Until 1868 the Japanese divided daytime and night time into six ‘hours’ each. This meant that with the changing of seasons the length of these temporal hours varied. Day hours in the summertime were longer than the day hours in the winter. To show the correct time, the numerals on the dial needed to be adjusted every fourteen days.


(Height) 61.5 cm (Width) 9.5 cm (Depth) 6.5 cm
(Height) 24.2 in (Width) 3.7 in (Depth) 2.6 in



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