Dating circa 1926, the Father Time clock situated at the Northeast corner of the iconic Jewelers' Building in Chicago —35 East Wacker Drive— is without a doubt, the most beautiful clock in the Windy City.
The Jewelers' Building is a 40-story historic landmark facing the Chicago river. The building was completed in 1926 and it was once considered the tallest building in the world located outside of New York City. The building was originally conceived for the city’s diamond merchants and fitted with a central car elevator that could lift cars as high as the 22nd floor in order to reduce the chances that its tenants would be mugged walking between their cars and their offices.
According to the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture database, the bronze base of the Father Time clock weighs eight tons and it was a gift presented by the Illinois based Elgin Watch Company to the Chicago Jeweler's Association.
The octagonal domed top of this iconic clock is topped with a five feet tall sculpture of Father Time. This character was the symbol for the Elgin Watch Company which, at the time of the building's completion in 1926, had general offices in the building. While the Father Time sculpture on the clock is somewhat different to the actual logo used by the Elgin Watch Company, it's been confirmed by historians, that the logo was indeed the inspiration for the sculpture on top of this magnificent clock.
Father Time is usually depicted as an elderly bearded man, dressed in a robe and carrying a scythe and an hourglass —which represents time's constant one-way movement. This character derives from the Grim Reaper and Chronos the Greek God of Time. It is also known that a number of copies of this winged sculpture were produced by the same unknown artist; however, nobody really knows where these could be located.
This magnificent clock is composed of four white dials —each of them approximately five feet in diameter— with black Arabic numerals, black adorned hands and black minute markers. Each dial is fitted with a bezel with fifty-six red lights and four amber lights that light up after dusk. The top of the structure where the sculpture of Father Time stands, is intricately adorned with three bald eagles —each eagle is located between the top of two dials— and at the base of the clock structure, right underneath each dial, we find the word 'Time'. The word 'Time' just like the lights on the bezel, lights up after dusk.
Next time you are walking around the streets of Chicago make sure you pay a visit to the iconic Father Time clock and make a wish. Remember "the clock of life is only wound once and nobody knows when it will stop". The estimated value of this clock remains unknown; however, to us, it is just 'priceless'.
Lastly, enjoy a picture of the famous Jewelers' Building in its full splendor.