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The Secrets of Claude-Siméon Passemant’s Clock

Published on , by Sophie Humann

Claude-Siméon Passemant’s astronomical clock has been entirely taken apart, studied and restored for an autumn exhibition at Versailles featuring Louis XV’s interests and passions.

© Château de Versailles, C. Millet The Secrets of Claude-Siméon Passemant’s Clock
© Château de Versailles, C. Millet
Painstakingly arranged and numbered circles and spheres—the insides of the crystal ball that ordinarily crowns Passemant’s clock at Versailles—are laid bare on a high table in a workshop at the Museums of France Research and Restoration Center (C2RMF, Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France) in the Louvre. They are the planets of the solar system and their orbits as imagined in the 18th century. “We took an X-ray to make it easier to take it apart,” says Ryma Hatahet, a cultural heritage restorer specializing in metal arts and head of the team of watchmakers working on the restoration. “The planetary system shows the day and night, equinoxes, solstices and even eclipses. This astronomical clock concentrates all the knowledge of the period. It shows the time and the date until 9999, taking account of leap years, features a lunar calendar and contains a huge amount of data.” In the workshop, watchmakers are busy with the clock’s axis, long pendulum and its two lead demi-spheres, cogs, the graceful face…
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