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The clocks of Pont Farcy (Calvados) by Claude Vilars


The reputation of Pont-Farcy was so important in Lower Normandy that many movements were attributed to this clock-making centre.

While it is true that this manufacturing site was very important until the 19th century, clock mechanisms manufactured in various places such as Vire, Avranches or Caen for example cannot be considered negligible. The difficulty in determining the origin lies in the fact that they are all based on the same principle.

To return to the production of clocks in Pont-Farcy, unlike in Upper Normandy, including Saint Nicolas d'Aliermont, there is no trace of manufacture to this day. Even if you ask the old timers, they have no memory of any clockwork being made in their town. What can be noted is that the manufacture of mechanisms was certainly not carried out in a single place, but rather by workers working at home and making a single type of part, all of which was assembled in Pont-Farcy.

The geographical location of Pont-Farcy

At the limit of Calvados-Manche and not very far from the Orne it is an ideal place for the marketing of the movements, amplified by the crossing of the Vire which allowed a river distribution then important.

For collectors, the most sought-after mechanisms had only one hand with a brass dial whose figures were made with the etching method and raised by an application of black paint. We sometimes find this type of mechanism in the town of Vire, which was made by a clockmaker called Le Franc in the second quarter of the 18th century. It is likely that single hand movements continued to be made in parallel with the more 'modern' two hand movements.

The mechanisms from this region still have the same architecture, but with different qualities: the most common had a wrought iron cage and the most elaborate had a structure resting on brass feet. Similarly, we find some with a single bell to ring the hours, while on others we can go up to three different bells.

As for the dials, if the writings tell us that some of them were surrounded by tin, the oldest ones that have come down to us have a brass dial, and then an earthenware dial.

Some names of watchmakers from the Lower Normandy region can be identified by the signatures on the movements

  • Alexandre A... Pont-Farcy on a mechanism from the mid 18th century
    Bunel Pont-Farcy mechanism 18th century
    Cricket of Vautellievre in Vire 18th century
    The merchant Alexandre in Pont-Farcy early 19th century.
    and many other names appear over time...

One can also meet mechanisms known as of Pont-Farcy with names of clockmakers and different cities, but it should always be borne in mind that certain salesmen simply applied their names whereas they had not manufactured the mechanisms, the beginning of publicity in a way...

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