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Munro No. 4


The Regulator Explained

There is no more slippery or misused term in horology than "regulator." Because it is associated with quality, the word can be found indiscriminately stenciled on the front glass of many an ordinary spring-wound domestic clock. But in the classic sense, a regulator is a pendulum clock accurate enough to set other clocks to or for studying periodic phenomena. Regulator movements were made to the highest possible standards of fit and finish. They were always expensive machines that demonstrated the highest application of the clockmaker's skill.

In it's truest form the regulator is a pendulum timepiece that strips away everything that stands in the way of accuracy. There are many variations on the theme, but a few shared characteristics make up the regulator tradition:

    • Regulator pendulums vibrate at discrete intervals, most often full or half seconds.
    • Regulators often avoid complications of striking and calendar work.
    • Regulator dials often show hours, minutes, and seconds on separate dials, to prevent confusion and to reduce gearing friction.


  • Regulator movements are arranged to provide the most even impulse energy. In the beginning this was done through high count trains and maintaining power to keep the clock running while being wound. As the form continued there were many, often baroque, attempts to provide for remontoire and constant force devices to achieve this aim. At the end of the regulator tradition this was achieved through various magnetic and electro-mechanical arrangements.
maintaining power


  • Regulator pendulums are compensated. They incorporate provisions to correct for changes, most commonly in temperature, but also at times for barometric pressure and changes in amplitude.
  • Regulator escapements were always arranged to provide the most uniform transition from the rotational force of the gear train to the oscillation of the pendulum. They were often provided with jeweled frictional surfaces to reduce wear and increase smoothness and accuracy.

Arcadian Clock Co. pendulums


The Regulator tradition applied

In this modern age, precise timekeeping is better served by other means; the inherently flawed pendulum is not adequate for scientific quality time measurement. Nevertheless, the aesthetic impact of precision horology has not lessened. The elegant fasteners, the noble curves of the levers, the visual appeal of the hand-burnished internal corners - a thousand shared details from the multiple traditions of precision horology - are the pallete from which we draw to create our artisinal creations. We start with the art of clockmaking, and from there strive to create timepieces as art.





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