Clock on a bicycle chain

A reader writes, "The Catena wall clock harkens back to traditional mechanical clocks. Copper digits mounted onto a bicycle chain place emphasis on the cyclical nature of time. This clock is a striking clock, literally and figuratively."

Well, not literally. But figuratively. And man, was this thing ever designed to fire up the desiderata center of my brain.

Catena Wall Clock


  1. It is striking, literally, if you need a self-defense weapon. Just grab the chain off the cog and strike the intruder with it.

    It’s a lovely clock, too.

  2. I suppose it could literally be a striking clock, if it has mechanically-rung chimes or bells inside it.

  3. that’s really cool. but, for $2300, i’d want it to go clockwise, not the opposite of clockwise. there really should be a word for the opposite of clockwise. i think i’ll call the opposite of clockwise, clockunwise. problem solved.

    you’re welcome.

    1. Counterclockwise is the usual word. And from the look of it, it *does* run clockwise – it’s just that because the numbers are the moving bit, they’re the reverse of what you’re used to thinking of as ‘clockwise’.

  4. “Copper digits mounted onto a bicycle chain place emphasis on the cyclical nature of time. ”

    Yeah, because mounting digits on a plain old circle doesn’t signify the cyclical nature of time.

    But I still like it.

  5. Lovely. At that price though, it is crying out for DIY version. I would like a yearly calendar with this concept. Of course I’d have to move to a place with at least one very tall wall.

    Shmengie, it looks clockwise to me. The numbers and change goes around clockwise. If it went counter-clockwise the numbers would be decreasing.

  6. I say Shmengie is right, dodi is wrong.

    We don’t watch it go ’round. We look at it for a moment, like any clock, the cog is essentially the hour hand.

    They used a conventional clock drive and should have reversed it.


  7. Though counterclockwise is my usual choice, widdershins would be an alternative if you want to be really obtuse.

  8. Yes, I think it would have made more sense to have the numbers in the other direction. As it stands now, the cog-wheel is slightly to the left of the 11, which means it is slightly after 11, but if you are used to normal clocks, you could accidentally read it as before 11.

      1. Or if you think you should be able to read a clock at a glance, instead of having to double-check basic things like, “are the numbers on a CLOCK ordered CLOCKWISE?”

  9. . . . They used a conventional clock drive and should have reversed it. . .

    Why? The gear should go the way it always goes. Since there’s not another gear connected to the central gear, nothing gets reversed. The chain goes round-n-round, clockwise. As does the central gear.

  10. “Copper digits mounted onto a bicycle chain place emphasis on the cyclical nature of time.”

    Showing the cyclical nature of time isn’t much of a novelty for a clock. Clocks have been going in circles for about 1000 year?

  11. @Anonymous Why? The gear should go the way it always goes.

    Dammit! You are correct, sir or madam! The numbers should go clockwise. The motor direction is OK.

    1. The numerals (not numbers strictly speaking) do GO clockwise. Do you mean that they should be ordered clockwise, and GO counterclockwise? I think so too, since you can’t instantaneously see them moving.

  12. Finally, a clock that takes less than a minute to set back for daylight savings! Just pick up the chain and move it an inch.

  13. Simple, beautiful, $2300?!?

    I think I’ll steal the idea and build my own with a stepper motor and a DIY quartz clock kit.

  14. Nooooo!!!! I… *I* was going to make this! I have drawings and plans! But I hadn’t yet, because… I never get around to making things…

    Anyway, I agree that the clock should go around the other way: the numbers should move counterclockwise. Why? Because the stationary cog plays the role of the hour hand. It tells you the time. So it should move clockwise relative to the numbers, so the numbers should move counterclockwise. That’s why several people were confused by it.

    …and least that’s how it works in the version I was planning to build…

  15. “Copper digits mounted onto a bicycle chain place emphasis on the cyclical nature of time.”

    Other people have pointed out the irony that clocks are almost always cyclical – mechanically and symbolically – already. However, it seems I’m the first to point out that time is not cyclical.

  16. Dear lord, for $2300 I’d commission an artist to make me one.

    But yea, that is down right beautiful.

    And it screams for a DIY version, with the wall unit made from some interesting found item. But add a minutes chain too just for grins :)

  17. Hmm so what’s the secret to making your own I wonder…

    1) Get a bike gear, and attach it to a 1 revolution per hour motor.

    2) Make a bike chain chain with N X 12 links, where N is the number of teeth on the gear.

    3) Attach a number every N links to the chain.

    4) Hang chain from gear.

    5) Profit!


    For a gear, go to a bike shop and see if you can pick up an old derailleur. Pull the gear off it. It’s probably just about right.

    For bike chain, go talk to your friends at the bike shop. They will think what you’re doing is pretty cool. They can also make you a chain that’s custom length to do that “12 X N” number of links.

    Then get a high torque clock motor. Google “high torque clock motor” and you’ll find a lot of cheap ones. If you’re going all out, see for serious big ass industrial clock motors.

    Google for “metal letters” to find people selling metal.. er… letters. Or better yet for letters, get a local artist/metal worker to make some for you.

  18. Not at that price!

    Let’s see, clock internals ($5.00), bike chain ($20.00), brass numbers ($40.00), time to chemically weld or actually weld numbers to chain and glue a small sprocket to the clock internals and then adjust chain to go around sprocket once every 12 hours (4 hours aprox).

    Total cost: $65.00 and 4 hours.

    Price on website: $2338.00 + shipping.

    Time: DIY!

  19. This clock is clearly missing something.

    This clock needs a “minute hand” attached to the gear to sweep each hour. (I am assuming that each revolution of the gear is 1 hour.) This will also give a more solid clue as to “am I at the top or bottom of the hour?”

  20. I find so many of these fancy clocks impractical because staring at it a minute then doing an quadratics equation isn’t my idea of efficient time- telling.

    not so with this one. but I only wish I had $2300 to throw at a novelty clock.

    1. Why would you have to do a quadratic equation? It’s not a clock for precise time-telling or timing an Olympic sprint. It’s a piece of art (or a piece of call-it-what-you-will).

      At any rate, this begs to be DIY’d, perhaps with some means of better approximating minutes. A sweeping minute hand was suggested, as was a minute chain (somewhat complicated and certainly time consuming for the build … heh heh heh). Scoring minute lines along the casing to correspond with the top of the applicable hour numeral would work, as would scoring minute lines into the drive sprocket.

      Maybe I’ll make this my winter break project …

  21. Ah! Yes it would be easier to read partial hours if the numbers were arranged clockwise and the chain went widdershins (Umm, yummy word. Thanks JTinmouth!). It fits matches the traditional model of reading progress through an hour.

  22. For anyone wondering, THIS CLOCK RUNS COUNTERCLOCKWISE.
    The designer made it so that the numbers descend.

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