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Zurich Schaffhausen - the largest tower clock in Europe very close

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The Church of St. Peter, together with the Grossmünster and the Fraumünster, shape the skyline of Zurich's old town. The quiet, somewhat sedate tower stands out from the other churches with its clock. With a diameter of eight and a half meters, the tower clock has the largest dial in Europe.

The church of St. Peter on the left side of the Limmat has always been important to Zurich. It was a watchtower and church tower in one. And in the late Middle Ages, as soon as the first mechanical clocks were fully developed, the Zurich city fathers installed the first mechanical clock on the tower side opposite the town hall in 1366, pointing towards the Limmat.

Zurich wanted to play a pioneering role in Europe and show that the city administration can offer something.
Author: Dölf WildZürcher Stadtarchäolog

200 years later, Zurich was upgrading. St. Peter received the largest tower clock in Europe, with a dial with a diameter of eight and a half meters on each side of the tower. The time on the clock on St. Peter became the official city time. All clocks had to be based on St. Peter until the 20th century. Today the watch has lost its importance in this regard. Only at the Sechseläuten does it set the tone. When it strikes 6 in the evening at St. Peter, the «Böögg» is lit and burned on Sechseläutenplatz on Bellevue.

The big renovation of the tower clock

To this day, the tower clock is the largest in Europe. The digits are almost one meter long, the minute hand five and a half meters and weigh 94 kilograms, the hour hand is almost 5 meters long and weigh 74 kilograms. The clockwork was operated mechanically until 1996. Since the renovation, the clock, the hands and the bells have been computer-controlled. However, the minute hand still jerks as it moves the 45 centimeters from minute to minute.

Computer-controlled, the minute hand could move regularly without any problems, but the people of Zurich wanted the typical Zurich jolt.
Author: Thomas MuffHead of Muff Kirchturmtechnik AG

The Zurich-based company wanted to retain this feature with the new watch. The biggest challenge during the renovation was dismantling the digits and hands. “We couldn't just leave the golden digits and hands on the street, we had to set up a guard so that people wouldn't touch the digits all the time,” says Thomas Muff, who renovated the clockwork and still looks after it today. The renovation took almost half a year - in October 1996 the people of Zurich had their time again.

Text: meim / Contribution: Margrith Meier

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