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    

Boston Beer Bb Ale Advertising Clock Telechron Ashland Ma Lighthouse Nautical **1950's- Elec.-"pam Clock Co.-15"-coca Cola-fishtail Backlit Clock-telechron-usaVintage Telechron Neon Light Up Ad Advertising Clock SignVintage 1930's Electric Clock Warren Telechron Luxor Blue Mirror Needs Repair1950s Owl Eyes Green Bakelite Zenith Model R515f Telechron Am Clock Radio TubeVintage Unrestored 20" Neon Advertising Clock W/ Telechron Motor & Rotating StarVintage Electric Telechron Clock For Parts Or Repair1930s Telechron 4f69 Art Deco Clock Works Vintage Telechron Electric School/store Wall Clock - Works2 Vintage Alarm Clocks~telechron 1 Works~ Ge Telechron Parts/repair1950's Deco Telechron Electric Wall Clock - "pie Pan" Raised Numbers WorkingVintage Tappan Deluxe Stove Ge Telechron Clock & Timer Visiminder Visiguide Cp Vintage Art Deco Telechron Electric Shelf Clock Brass Arched Model 4f 67 Works!Vintage/antique Telechron Wooden Clock/timer BoxVintage Telechron Kitchen Clock, Working Motor, Hands, Parts For Pam Clock 2 Telechron B3 Clock Rotors 3 Rpm, 60 Cy. NosNesbitt's Clock - Telechron - Soda Cola - Runs Lights - 15" Pepsi Rc AdvertisingVintage Warren Telechron Electric ClockVintage Telechron Mahogany Wood Pyramid Pharoah Electric Clock Model 3h151Telechron Piccolo Million Dollar ClockArt Deco Telechron Electric Clock Wooden 7h157 Usa 115 Volts/2 Watts WoodVintage Revere Westminster Chime Telechron Motored Clock Electric 1920s 1930sWarren Telechron Revere Mantle Clock, Westminster, Type B2, Parts