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18 May 2016

Tiffany clocks in New York

When next in New York City just across from Grand Central Station on 42nd Street, look up…

The glass clock positioned at the center of a group of statues is the work of American jeweler Tiffany. Few are privileged enough to be able to admire it close up, as access to this four-meter dial is by a maze of corridors leading to a rudimentary iron stairway that never seems to end. A unique experience is to be had when passing one’s head through one of the glass panels that dominate 42nd Street, and to have the clock’s hands just within reach. Established in 1914, it’s one of the best demonstrations of the jeweler’s expertise which, since the late nineteenth century, has been working with glass in all forms such as bowls, lights, panels and so on.

In the 50s, this clock almost disappeared along with the station, threatened by the rise of the automobile and soaring property prices. In 1992, it underwent restorations… Ten years to dismantle and transport it to the workshops to be cleaned piece by piece and the missing parts replaced. The jeweler also produced another famous clock in Grand Central, located right next to the information desk at the center of the large hall. Composed of four quadrants in opal, its value has been estimated at between 10 and 20 million dollars by Sotheby’s and Christie’s… One thing is certain: it’s one minute slow and loses only a second every 1.4 million years, like the other one on the facade, so that passengers don’t miss their trains.

The jeweler is also known to have installed one of the first public clocks in the city in 1853. It can be found on the facade of its flagship on Fifth Avenue. Spectacular, a statue of Atlas bears it on his shoulders and it’s the one most photographed by tourists. In 2011, Tiffany finally funded the renovation of the clock found close to its new location at 200 Fifth Avenue. Dating from 1909, it is the most ornate in New York.

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