Henry Ellis Warren of Massachusetts was not the first to experiment with electric clocks—in fact, Edinburgh clockmaker Alexander Bain invented the first electric clock in 1843. But after failed experiments with battery-driven clocks, Warren did create the forerunner to the modern electric clock using a small alternating-current synchronous motor, known as the “type A motor,” in 1915, which he sold through his Warren Clock Company.

In the process of inventing these clocks, Warren noticed his timepieces were unreliable, not because of the faultiness of his clocks but due to the irregular nature of the power grids at the time. To fix this problem, Warren created a “master clock” for the Boston Edison electric company in 1916. His invention operated through two movements, one run by the current from the power plant and the other using an old-fashioned spring and pendulum.

The time from the pendulum was reset twice a day to match the time from the Naval Observatory, and the electric-driven clock was then compared to the spring-driven clock as a way of measuring the steadiness of electricity produced by the power company. These clocks were soon used in power plants across the U.S.

Around 1920, Warren introduced the “type B motor,” with a sealed container for the motor, which could run for many years without being serviced. By 1923, Warren had registered the brand name “Telechron,” also seen as “Telekron” in early examples. Over the years, the motors were continuously perfected—each improvement was given a letter like “F” or “H.”

Arriving in the Art Deco era, the Telechron was known for its technology as well as its beautiful, streamlined design—it was considered tremendously chic. Top designer of the era, Paul Frankl, was employed to make a “modern” Telechron clock, the 8-inches-tall “Modernique,” which he styled after his “Skyscraper” furnishings using Bakelite, chrome, and steel. After the stock market crash of 1929, broke consumers scoffed at this “$50 clock.”

Between the 1920s and 1950s, Telechron introduced a series of stylish geometric clocks, in materials such as wood, Catalin, and Lucite, by designers like Leo Ivan Bruce and John R. Rainbault. These included the “Cathedral,” the “Administrator,” the “IMP,” and “Dimension.” Telechron alarm clocks were particularly popular before the war, as they featured real, loud, metal bells.

When Warren retired in the ’40s, Telechron became part of the General Electric company. Before long, though, his technology would be outdated with the invention of quartz clocks.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]

Clockhistory.com

Clockhistory.com

Bill Stoddard's clock history site offers a trove of great reference information on clock and watch makers includin… [read review or visit site]

National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum

Check out this sampling of nautical and maritime items held by the U.K.'s National Maritime Museum and Royal Observ… [read review or visit site]

Dan and Diana's Lux Clock Collection

Dan and Diana's Lux Clock Collection

Dan and Diana Lockett's amazing collection of several hundred novelty Lux clocks made by the Lux Clock Manufacturin… [read review or visit site]

Detex Watchman's Clock Album

Detex Watchman's Clock Album

Philip Haselton's guide to watchmen's time recording equipment. Includes 19th century German portables, 20th centur… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Art Deco Chrome & Mirror Telechron " Luxor " ClockRare Telechron Art Deco "fifty Dollar" Clock By Paul Frankl 1930's Modern 431 OgVintage Kist Beverages Telechron Electric Clock - 15" Diameter Original Pepsi Bubble Clock 1940's Glass Dome Telechron "works"Art Deco Telechron Electric ClockFabulous Amethyst Mirror Art Deco Ge/telechron 4f71 "casino" Shelf/mantel Clock Gorgeous Vintage 1930's Telechron Revere M16 Wood Cathedral Chiming Clock WorksVintage Nutone K-46 Telechron Motered Electric Doorbell Chimes Wall Clock WorksVintage 15" General Electric Red Eye Wall Clock Ge Telechron 1h1412 1950'sGe-telechron Yellow & Chrome 2h43 Kitchen Clock The "telemaid"Euc-vintage Telechron Electric Kitchen Clock-no Cracks Or Chips-runs Very Quite!Vintage G.e. Telechron "russel Wright" Ceramic Wall ClockVintage 1930c Art Deco Catalin / Bakelite Telechron Clock Model 3h178Vintage Pepsi-cola Clock Telechron Usa MadeOriginal Pepsi Cola Glass Advertising Clock Dial Telechron Last One Available Telechron Electric Banjo Clock------original FinishVintage Ge Telechron H3 Electric Clock Rotor - Works!! Telechron Ships Wheel Clock Vintage Maritime Nautical Bakelite 1940 To 1950 Vintage 1950's (?) Telechron Junction Box Clock, Works!Vintage Telechron Art Deco.spokes All Aroun Bakelite Electric Desk Table Clock General Electric Thermal Telechron Control Clock-1930's Telechron 2h07 Clock "the Buffet" Working ConditionVintage General Electric Telechron Movement W/ H3 M2349 Rotor - RunsTelechron Clock 7h195 The Mirrorlarm 1950-53, Working Electric Clock Vintage - Telechron Clock By Warren Telechron 4h87Vintage Telechron Wood Electric Clock Model 3h151, Made In UsaVintage Telechron Bakelite Or Plastic Clock - For Parts Or RepairWarren Telechron Vintage Mantle Clock Plate And KeyVintage Telechron 2h27 Electric Clock White Face Red Numbers Runs “the Advisor”