The Paolo Uccello Clock at The Duomo is Restored

Architectural Digest

The Paolo Uccello clock at the Duomo in Florence. Photograph courtesy Officine Panerai Close

The Paolo Uccello clock at the Duomo in Florence. Photograph courtesy Officine Panerai

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The Paolo Uccello clock at the Duomo in Florence. Photograph courtesy Officine Panerai

It’s only fitting that a story about a clock has an element of circularity to it. The timepiece in question is the great Paolo Uccello clock at the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (a.k.a. the Duomo) in Florence. Uccello, a 15th-century Italian artist, painted the colossal clockface in 1443, with frescoes of four prophets and a dial that measures hora itálica, a 24-hour system based on the time of sunset. In the ensuing centuries, the clock was repaired and rebuilt many times, including its mid-18th-century conversion to a 12-hour timekeeping system and a 1973 renovation that restored the original Uccello artwork as well as the 24-hour mechanism, which has a single hand that sweeps counterclockwise.

In May, the Uccello treasure emerged from the latest restoration of its intricate mechanism, an operation sponsored by Officine Panerai, the venerable luxury watchmaking company that set up shop in Florence in 1860. (Here comes the circularity.) Although the original Bottega Panerai—the city’s first watch shop—was located on the Ponte alle Grazie, the company moved its flagship at the turn of the last century to the Archbishop’s Palace in the Piazza San Giovanni, directly across from the Baptistery and the Duomo.

The inner workings of the clock, which has a single dial that rotates counterclockwise. Photograph courtesy Officine Panerai

The inner workings of the clock, which has a single dial that rotates counterclockwise. Photograph courtesy Officine Panerai

More than a hundred years later, Panerai continues to honor its Florentine heritage and its prestigious surroundings by supporting local institutions such as the Museo Galileo and providing the resources that allow the Uccello clock to maintain both its artistic and its mechanical integrity. That’s a gift that will keep on giving for decades to come.

The clock is located in the interior of the Duomo, above the main door. Photograph courtesy Officine Panerai

The clock is located in the interior of the Duomo, above the main door. Photograph courtesy Officine Panerai

The exterior of Florence’s Duomo. Inside, its famous clock measures hora itálica, a 24-hour system based on the time of sunset. Photograph courtesy Officine Panerai

The exterior of Florence’s Duomo. Inside, its famous clock measures hora itálica, a 24-hour system based on the time of sunset. Photograph courtesy Officine Panerai

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