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    

Antique Telechron Electric Clock Model 8b03 "minitman" Drum Dial Mantle Clock Vintage Shell Oil Gas Service Station Clock Sign Scta Display Telechron Pam Vintage Art Deco Onyx Stone Telechron Mantel Clock €Gorgeous Antique 1920s Warren Telechron Art Deco Wooden Clock With Time Works Telechron ClockVintage 1940s Telechron "magnolia" Model #6b13 Rare Electric Mantle Clock .99nrTelechron Electric Clock Model 3f65 Art Deco Blue Mirror Cobalt Glass FrontVintage Art Deco Electric Mantle Desk Clock Wood Telechron Brass WorksVtg Beautiful Art Deco Blue Chrome Electric Telechron Wall Clock WorksVintage Warren Telechron Electric Clock 3h95Vintage Telechron Electric Wall Clock - No. 2f01 - Green And Chrome Art DecoVintage Art Deco Electric Mantle Desk Alarm Clock Wood Telechron Brass WorksElectric Clocks For Parts Or Repair- Harmony House-telechron-westclock- Ge-partsVintage Retro 50's " Telechron" Wall Clock (atomic Era) Works!Vintage Usa Warren Telechron Commerce Wall Clock Industrial 30s 40s Mid CenturyVintage Art Deco Electric Telechron Minitmaster Wall Clock Off WhiteBox Lot Of Parts ~ General Electric Telechron Synchronous MotorsVintage Retro Telechron Red Wall Clock Electric Model 2h15 Art Deco Works Vintage Bakelite Telechron Household Timer / Clock Model 8b53 WorksVintage Revere Westminster Chime Clock Model R-953 By Warren Telechron Co.mantleVintage Telechron Model 2h15s Electric Kitchen Wall Clock, 7" WideVintage Lucite Clear Telechron Clock Electric Model 7h141 Parts Or RepairRevere Telechron Westminster Chime Mantle Shelf Clock Electric Motor, For Parts! General Electric Telechron Alarm Clock Made In Usa 1950s Model 7h229 It Works!1950s Zenith Super Deluxe Telechron Clock Am Radio In Ivory (poss. Model L520)Vtg Telechron Red Eye1h912 Commercial Wall Clock Glass Wood Convexed Works WellWarren,henry---speech Given At Telechron Christmas Party, 1941Telechron Electric Clocks Sales Catalog 1951-1952