Mechanical Clock Relies On Marbles To Tick

rolling ball clock

As fun as micro-controllers and RTCs are, sometimes it’s truly fascinating to see a completely mechanical clock. Using only gravity this Pendulum Marble Clock (German version) by [Turnvater Janosch] runs for 12 hours at a time and has an accuracy error of less than one second per day!

It works by raising a 2.5kg weight which sinks approximately 1 meter during that 12 hours. A series of steel ball bearings count the minutes, 5 minute increments, and hours. Every minute one ball is released on the track — when the track fills up, trap doors open releasing the balls to the next level. The first level is minutes, the second, 5 minutes, and the third, hours.

The entire thing is made out of wood, plastic gears, brass and steel wire, and an old flat iron (although we’re really not too sure what that’s used for…)

If you happen to have a pair of stereoscopic goggles (you can make your own), he’s also uploaded a gallery of images of his clock in stereoscopic 3D.


  1. Bensch says:

    The flaut Iron is the weight!

  2. Erik Johnson says:

    I must have this. Very cool!

  3. juno says:

    @HaD – not sure if you’re joking about the flat iron, but it’s the power source. Its potential energy is converted to kinetic to drive the escapement wheel.

    Wonderful contraption.

  4. kaputzke says:

    The hours are going from1 to 12 with the 1 “glued” to the hours bar. Just for aesthetic reasons?

  5. Dion says:

    This thing is beyond awesome!

  6. me says:

    Really cool, but is it just me who wishes those 2 gears inside were made of wood, not plastic?
    Also, I’d have thought that with careful placement of a few bells, you could get it to do a full chime on the hour.

  7. ojh says:

    The iron is obviously the weight that keeps it going. I just wonder how he “winds it up”, does it hae a ratchet mechanism? There’sheaps of these things on youtube, just search for Rolling Ball Clock. See e.g. or Some are homemade, some seem of commercial origin. Nice work though, need to show my dad this one.

  8. ejonesss says:
  9. Thinkerer says:

    Does the ball dump of the trays work on a simple weight/balance release?

  10. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Super cool!

  11. L0rdRav3n says:

    I saw this bad rider a month or so ago. Pretty sure it was here too.

  12. static says:

    I would have chosen the following as the article headline. Clothes Iron Hacked Into a Clock. While it’s way before my time. My understanding that multiple irons where always being heated so the could be changed out as they cooled from use.

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