Guerrilla clockmakers fix famous Paris clock


Andrew says: "It seems a team of clockmakers broke into the Pantheon in Paris in September 2005 and spent a year fixing the historic and neglected clock, which had been abandoned by the authorities. They were prosecuted for breaking in, but have just been cleared of the charges in court. The group, "Untergunther" have a catalogue of subterranean lo-jinks to their name."

Klausmann and his crew are connaisseurs of the Parisian underworld. Since the 1990s they have restored crypts, staged readings and plays in monuments at night, and organised rock concerts in quarries. The network was unknown to the authorities until 2004, when the police discovered an underground cinema, complete with bar and restaurant, under the Seine. They have tried to track them down ever since.

But the UX, the name of Untergunther's parent organisation, is a finely tuned organisation. It has around 150 members and is divided into separate groups, which specialise in different activities ranging from getting into buildings after dark to setting up cultural events. Untergunther is the restoration cell of the network.

Link | More at | London Times on UX's Untergunther


  1. I think this article only exists so that the authors could write “cosy squat cum workshop” in a mainstream media outlet….

  2. This reminds me of a cool trend going on amongst artists and squatters/direct action protesters alike here in the UK: a group of such people in bristol, uk with a history of squatting to create arts spaces or one-off performances has recently had lots of success in this.

    Their work consists of taking over high profile abandoned buildings, restoring them, doing loads of shows of all kinds in them, and in the process giving housing developers lots of free publicity for the buildings…

    So everyone is happy, especially since it’s increasingly expensive to own large empty houses here (as of next year tax breaks will be cut), and the artists have a more legal standing and ability to do more ambitious things.

    Alejandro, Bristol

  3. Or we could call that “reverse vandalism” (which I guess could count as an anticrime).

    One thing that’s especially funny is that, while to enter the building they sometimes resorted to some illegal means, entering it wasn’t, and still isn’t, illegal by itself, in the absence of any written law on the matter (yet).

  4. They did, however, get the poor guy in charge of the Pantheon fired in the process, which no doubt sucks for him…

  5. Another case of the government punishing someone for exposing the foolishness of the government. Like the Boston Mooninite “hoax” or Buffalo’s Steve Kurtz biological scare, no harm was intended, no harm was done, but the government over-reacts because there is a “possibility” of terrorism (even the London Times article uses the word “terrorist” in the headline, albeit with quotes). There will always be a “possibility of terrorism”, punishing someone because they acted similar to a terrorist is silly, especially since the outcome was beneficial– why not punish everybody named “Osama” or everyone who ever dropped out of flight school before learning how to land? Or maybe it’s just the government setting precedent– “You cannot subvert our laws even for the common good”– but isn’t that very idea the core of what a democracy is?

  6. Ok, i read the article and i am still confused. I understand that they were able to sneak into and set up a shop in the Pantheon, but how did they work on the clock? I was under the impression that the clock was on display. If that is true then you would think someone would notice it missing when they were repairing it. And if the the clock wasn’t on display, couldn’t they have temporarily stolen the clock, took it to a real workshop to fix it, then take it back?

  7. This isn’t exactly a grandfather clock that they were repairing. It was a huge architectural clock, similar to the one on the courthouse in Back to the Future.

  8. I am surprised that nobody so far has mentioned the similarity between UX/Unthergunther and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom’s adhocracies.

    Now, where is my local chapter, and how do I join in?

  9. I wonder how much the UX (and their early exploits, the catacomb parties in the 1980s) were an influence on the “troglodistes”, the underground guerilla frogmen in Jeunet and Caro’s film Delicatessen.

  10. Ill Lich (7), “possibility of terrorism” = “they embarrassed us, and now we’re getting even.”

  11. #13 Now that you mention it, and considering Jeunet and Caro’s background,I’d say I barely wonder that.
    I’m merely wondering if they have been actively part of that stuff or if it was only friends of theirs.

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