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Grand Sonnerie Movements

What's the big deal? And how does it work? ”

In the noted horology book "Britten's Old Clocks and Watches", G.H. Baillie defines a Grand Sonnerie movement as follows:

"A form of quarter-striking in which the hour last struck is also repeated at each hour." 

It works like this, striking the quarter-hour on one gong and the hour on a second, slightly lower-toned gong:
  • At 3:15 the clock strikes once on the higher chime to indicate the quarter hour, followed by three strikes on the lower chime to indicate the hour.

  • At 3:30 the clock stikes two times on the higher chime (half-hour), followed by three chimes on the lower gong (hour) ...etc.

This way, if you are within hearing distance of the clock, day or night, you can tell exactly what time it is at each quarter hour.

Petite Sonnerie
A "petite sonnerie" movement generally strikes once on each quarter (once on the quarter, twice on the half, three times on the three-quarter and four on the hour) and then strikes the hour. Some variations may strike only once on each quarter. They, technically, are called a "quarter-striker", not a petite sonnerie.

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