Ankeruhr: An Art Nouveau Masterpiece in Vienna

Ankeruhr: An Art Nouveau Masterpiece in Vienna

By vieanna | Vienna | 6 May 2020

Art Nouveau is omnipresent in Vienna. A special jewel from the later phase of this architectural style is the Anchor Clock at Hoher Markt in Vienna's 1st district.


Since it was built in 1914, the clock has adorned the Ankerhof, the headquarters of the former Anker Versicherung and today's Helvetia Versicherung, as an architectural link between buildings. The artistic designer of this linear clock is the painter Franz Matsch.



Above the clock there is a sun disk with two figures growing out of flame motifs: a child with a butterfly is supposed to symbolize life, while the hourglass allegorically stands for death.


The background of the clock is a circular mosaic of glass, metal and marble. In the middle is the coat of arms of the old Viennese citizen flag, surrounded by twelve coats of arms, which symbolize for example art, love, science, music, theatre or also with the Guglhupf (cake made of yeast dough) the Viennese kitchen.


What is unusual about this clock is that the sixty minutes are not distributed over a circle, but over a horizontal path. The horizontal time scale has 12 fields, the individual intervals correspond to five minutes each, the quarter hours are marked by numbers.


The passage of time is indicated by twelve figures that pass in front of the mosaic wall every minute. The figures, which are between 2.60 and 2.80 m in size, are electronically controlled and pulled by a chain drive that is not visible from the outside.



Above the head of each figure hovers a Roman hour marker with gold-plated wings. One figure glides over a scale for one hour and is then replaced by the next.



The passing figures, the so-called hour regents, are personalities who have influenced Vienna in a special way throughout history.


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Hi, I´m Anna from Vienna.


In this blog I write about Vienna's amazing culture, art and history.

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