Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Star Trek Clock Blast from the Past

So i'm a nerd, who is into antiques, who has an eye for detail. What happens when I watch Star Trek: Into Darkness? I see a clock that has like 5 seconds of screen time, and I recognize it.

The movie takes place in 2259, the clock? A Lawson Model 304 "Zephyr" made around 1933, making it 326 years old in the movie. Glad to know they last! It is one of the character's alarm clock. Except the 304 has no alarm capabilities, it just tells the time. Oh movie magic!
The 304 was made of brass with most of the body finished in antique copper. It is one of the most sought after of the art deco Lawson clocks, worth a few thousand dollars today. These clocks were the first digital clocks, in that they actually shows the digits. I found out about this clock because I bought and restored one of its cousins. A Pennwood 100 "Cheiftan" with a brown bakelite body.

This model was made from 1938 to 1972 with minor variations. Mine is a very early model, and still runs. The simplicity of the motor astounds me, and is probably why it lasts so long. Pennwood and Lawson used the same patented design inside their clocks, producing many clock case designs over the years. Lawson's were more upscale featuring metal cases and high polished finishes. Here is a look at what a Pennwood movement looks like.

The motor on the right, drives a gear box that constantly turns the seconds tumbler. A tab on the seconds tumbler flips the minute tumbler at each full turn. This goes on down the line until the hour tumbler gets flipped. It's a pretty cool clock to watch change time.

Now you know a little more useless information. Hope it was worth your time!


  1. Thanks for the information. Came here to learn more about this clock after seeing it on Star Trek.

  2. I've been trying to find out the dimensions of the window in the zephyr. Could you tell me the dimensions of the window in your Pennwood? It would give me some idea at least.