‘A soul full of clockworks’: Patrik Pařízek on the timeless appeal of mechanical, musical artistry

Patrik Pařízek, a curator at the National Technical Museum, is a specialist in the artistic craftsmanship of historical clocks. So specialised, in fact, he had to search for a Czech university that would let him pursue a doctorate on the subject. I spoke with him shortly after the opening of a special exhibition he is curating at the Museum of the Czech Karst in Beroun, called “A soul full of clockworks”, featuring a wide array of rare mechanical toys and automatronic objects.

Author: Brian Kenety, Prague Radio International, 07/29/2020

Just short of a year ago, Patrik Pařízek opened an antique shop in central Prague – the Clock Gallery – where he sells and repairs historic timepieces and the odd mechanical instrument, musicbox. I began by asking him when his fascination with clocks began, and about the very first one that he took apart.

“When I was very young, I was visiting my grandmother and I alone with an old alarm clock in the living room and I tried to take it apart. Of course, I totally destroyed it – the spring jumped from the case. It was unrepairable, unusable. Now, I can say that it was quite a collectors’ piece because I have a different [trained] eye.

What made that one special?

“That one was special because it got an award at an international expo for Czechoslovak design. It was quite an extraordinary shape, very modern. And now, such objects can sell for a couple thousand crowns.”

Patrik Pařízek is a PhD student in the Department of Art History at Palacky University in Olomouc, where he researches the artistry of historical clocks, including sundials — his main interest apart from mechanical music machines. Besides being a curator and an antique shop owner, he is of course also an avid collector.

“At first, I was visiting some flea markets, tried to buy some things online or at some smaller stores. But quite often, the seller knows what he wants to sell and mostly they were not such quality items. For example they say, ‘Just now, I don’t have the key, but it’s fully working’, or, another typical sentence, ‘Of course it works, but we don’t have time to try it.’

“I found that it was best to be in touch just with collectors because in the Czech Republic they often have quite large collections and sometimes they have more pieces of similar items so they are ready to sell it, and we can clean it put it in our shop.”

So, you built up a practical expertise – and also an academic one.

“Yes, I connected it to my PhD studies at the university in Olomouc with a focus on the history of clocks. It’s quite unusual.”

Well, if you’ll pardon the pun, I have time to hear the story.

“It’s quite extraordinary because it’s not typical to study this field. I first tried [Charles University] in Prague and [the University of West Bohemia] in Pilsen but they told me they had no experts in this field; we cannot give you lessons.

“But in Olomouc, they were quite open to it. Firstly, I had to find many other people from the field to give me advice in cooperation with the university because of course they had no experts in clock history but there were experts for related fields.”

And more within the framework of mechanical history?

“More within the framework of the history of art – I mostly focused on the types of cases and decorations and historical styles.”

Apart from clocks, you grew interested in different kinds of mechanisms – for example, we met at a festival of street organ grinders – or flašinets in Czech.

“Yes, there’s quite a close connection between clocks and music because with many clocks which are more valuable, more special, more rare there is quite often some kind of musical machine inside. We have flute clocks, reed music machines.

“Thanks to this, I was searching for some restorer of some part of the clock and got in touch with Mr Bondra, who is the president of the Czech society of barrel organ players.”

Patrik Pařízek is himself a barrel organ player and a card-carrying member of the Czech Association of Friends of the Flašinet and Mechanical Music. He also works for the National Technical Museum, where the work he does is a bit outside his main interests.

“It’s a bit different field because I’m the curator for mechanical engineering – we have quite a nice collection of steam machines and other types of engines that came later.”

Let’s turn to your own, latest exhibition, the name of which loosely translates in English as a ‘soul full of wheels’. How did that come about, what’s on display?

“I have been fascinated with mechanical toys, automatronic objects. Many of them people will know from their childhoods. But these kinds of toys are not just for children – we have different luxury ones for adults. Again, the typical ones correspond to antique clocks, in which we will find many moving figures, for example a blacksmith working on an anvil.

“But when organising the exhibition, thanks to my job in the National Technical Museum, we started cooperating with the [Museum of the Bohemian Karst] in Beroun, where the exhibition is located. And we were able to borrow some of the most rare, most valuable objects it is possible to see in this country. The items comes from all over the country, some from museums but many from private collectors.”

Among the rarest items now on display at the Museum of the Bohemian Karst is a street barrel organ featuring a band of monkey musicians.

“I think it’s the most valuable item in the exhibition. It’s part of a classical barrel organ, underneath which is a glass box with these six musicians. When you are playing the organ, each musician in the band can make around six moves. They are moving their heads, mouth and eyes and playing their instruments – the bass, violin and a cello.

“It’s the most popular object in the exhibition. It’s from the 19th or early 20th century and was made in Switzerland, I think, but we can’t say exactly because many were made in workshops in central Europe. It’s not possible to identify from the techniques of how it was made.

“We made a video of how it moves because it’s impossible to show to people every day. So we made a detailed video about each figure on it. Children are fascinated by what people back then were able to make. It’s from the National Technical Museum. It’s the one object well known in the Czech Republic.”

And what else do we have – this one under a tree looks like a shepherd…

“Yes, it’s a shepherd from an old mechanical Bethlehem (Betlém). It was typical around our country during the winter in the mountains that many people making them, and many could move, which was more popular with visitors. This example is from Liberec.”

So, it is part of a Nativity scene…

“Yes, and this is just one part. Each figure has a separate mechanism, makes a different movement, and each one is quite complicated. For example, we have from this Bethlehem scene, we also have moving pigeons and cows. We have six cows and I don’t know how many pigeons. But when you look under the grass, there is such a complicated mechanism, it’s unbelievable how they could do it. What’s more, they made it from wood, mostly.”

“Here’s another item – a man sitting on a latrine. It was a shooting target from an old fairground. It was made around 1910 and it’s quite funny. When the target is shot by a rifle, under the man there is moving… Well, what’s a polite word?”

Right, so, now who is this fellow? He’s got a very expressive face.

“This is an example of a Black Forest clock from Germany. Each one has something special to make it more valuable on the market. Here we see on the upper top of the dial a man with moving eyes and mouth. Every hour, when the clock strikes, he opens his mouth the same number of times as the strikes.”

“Altogether, there are 10 groups from different fields and about 50 or 60 pieces. The largest is a horse we borrowed from the National Technical Museum, from the Letenský kolotoč (Letná Park Carousel), which has 21 horses inside. It is the oldest such carousel in the world.

“It was made with a special technique where they used the whole hide from a horse and stretched it over a wooden sculpture, to make it more realistic. It was built in 1892 as is a quite rare object. Firstly, when the carousel was new, there was a man walking around underneath turning it by hand cranks.”

Curator Patrik Pařízek has a few other projects in development. One he is most excited about is a lecture and workshop series that he and his partner at the Clock Gallery in Prague plan to hold in August, where participants can try their hand at restoring timepieces.

Starožitné francouzské figurální hodiny v Clock Gallery v Praze
Interiér Clock gallery

And you envision the people would all work on the same restoration, or would they bring in clocks that their grandchild also destroyed?

“I think they will bring the items. Because many people are visiting us, asking for advice – is this valuable, or not? What can I do with it?”

    review rating 5  Impressive selection of clocks and watches, with some jewlery as well. The shop itself is beautiful. The staff was well-informed and happy to help. Totally recommendable for someone into Czech and Swiss watches or looking to get quality products and honest advice in the matter.

    thumb Leyla Tielemans

    review rating 5  Best place to buy watch in Prague! they have some many kinds of watches and great prices! Plus the sale person was super nice!

    thumb שחר חבר

    review rating 5  Příjemný obchůdek s krásnými hodinkami a trochou té bižu. Lidé co tu pracují, jsou velmi milí a vstřícní. Vřele doporučuji 🙂👍.

    thumb Vlasta Flaxová

Patrik Pařízek has been leading courses about antiques at the Mozarteum Academy and art history lessons at the Secondary Pedagogical School in Beroun since 2017. He has been working at the National Technical Museum in Prague, where he is now curator of its engineering collections, since 2018. He opened the Clock Gallery antique shop last year.

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Jak používat sluneční hodiny? How to use a sundial?

Nevíte si rady s tím, jak správně používat sluneční hodiny? Společně s Hankou jsme se podívali na některé ukázky, jež je možné u nás pořídit. Shlédnout může naše video, kde je použití popsáno. Níže naleznete zmíněné typy.

Need to know how to use a sundials? In following video we explain some easiest techniques. Enjoy the video with subtitles. Some of them you can buy in our shop.

Mezi nejčastější typy slunečních hodin patří horizontální. Číselník mají umístěný vodorovně a bývají vybaveny kompasem nebo kalendářem. Pokud nevíte, kde takové sluneční hodiny koupit, v Clock Gallery nabízíme hned několik typů. Dostupnější je kapesní varianta se šňůrovým polosem (ukazatelem).

The most common type is horizontal sundial with compass or calendar. We can offer you this types:

Kapesní sluneční hodiny | Pocket sundial

Nejpopulárnější varianta. Plně funkční sluneční hodiny ve sklápěcím pouzdru s kompasem. 6,5 cm. Umělá patina na starý vzhled. Vyrábíme z mosazi.

Most popular piece. Fully working clocks in rounded case with compass. 6,5 cm. Vintage patina. Made of brass.

Náramkové sluneční hodiny s kompasem

Wrist sundial with compass

Netradiční kuriozita. Sluneční hodiny s kompasem v naramkovem provedení. Hnědý i černý pásek. Vyrobeno z mosazi. Uměle patinováno na starý vzhled. 5,5 cm.

Extraodrinary curiosity. Sundial with compass as a wristwatch. Brown or black band. Made of brass with patina. 5,5 cm.

Inklinační sluneční hodiny s kompasem

Inclining sundial with compass

Stolní hodiny s kompasem. Vyrobeno ve starém stylu z patinované mosazi. Hodiny se natočí podle kompasu, aby ukazoval na sever. Prostřední ukazatel se zdvihne a podle jeho stínu je možné zjistit čas. Na boční stupnici jsou jednotlivé zemské šířky, podle kterých se celý číselník může ještě sklopit, aby byly hodiny přesnější ;). Průměr 7,5 cm, výška 6,5 cm. Mosaz je možné vyleštit.

Table clock with compass. Made of brass with antique patina. 7,5 cm. We are able to ship this item.

Stolní horizontální sluneční hodiny s dárkovým boxem

Table horizontal sundial with luxury box

Velké sluneční hodiny (box 14,5 cm, hodiny 11,5 x 8,5 cm). Vyrobeno z mosazi, patinované na starý vzhled. Otočí se dle kompasu aby ukazoval na sever, vyrovnají se šrouby podle olovnice. Čas ukáže stín provázku na vodorovné desce. Vhodné jako luxusní dárek.

Large sundial. (box 14,5 cm, sundial 11,5 x 8,5 cm). Made of brass with patina. Perfect luxury gift. We are able to ship this item.

Těšíme se na vaše zkušenosti s hodinami v komentářích ;).

Looking forward for your comments about using a sundials 😉

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Jak používat staré kapesní hodinky? | How to use old pocket watches?

Hanka poznala v Clock Gallery v Praze několik typů starých kapesních hodinek a zjistila, jak je používat. Pojďte se společně také podívat. Možná i vy doma takové poklady objevíte…

Hanka discover and try few types of pocket watches at Clock Gallery in Prague. Let’s see. Maybe you also find similar treasures…

Hanka donesla do Clock Gallery v Praze několik kapesních hodinek, které doma nalezla. Možná vás překvapí, že mezi nimi byly i vzácné kusy. Které hodinky má smysl opravit a které zůstanou už jen na parádu?

Hanka brings some pocket watches to Clock Gallery in Prague. Sometimes you can find a treasures in your home. Which pieces to repair? What is just for decoration? See this video.

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Poklady z půdy ocení i v Clock Gallery Praha

AKTUALIZOVÁNO: Fotografie předmětů pro výkup můžete nyní vkládat prostřednictvím komentářů pod textem. Děkujeme ;).

Jistě jste zaznamenali nový televizní pořad Poklad z půdy.

“Stará veteš, přívěsek od babičky, dokonce i zaprášený obraz z podkroví mohou svému majiteli vydělat statisíce! O tom vás přesvědčí pořad Poklad z půdy s jedinečným moderátorem Janem Rosákem.” (anotace pořadu)

I u nás v CLOCK GALLERY v pražském Mozarteu v Jungmannově ulici pomáháme denně s určováním starých a starožitných předmětů, které lidé donesou. V praxi je to obdobné jako na televizní obrazovce, jen u nás máme k dispozici stylový prodejní pult od Jana Kotěry. 😉

Na vaší půdě se může skrývat poklad, o kterém jste možná doposud neměli ani tušení. Naši odborníci, zaměřující se převážně na staré hodiny a hodinky, Vám pomohou s určením přídmětů, případně je i rovnou vykoupí. Kdo ví, třeba i váš předmět z půdy je ve skutečnosti pokladem…

Máte zajímavý předmět, který byste nám chtěli nabídnout pro výkup? Naší doménou je hlavně prodej starých hodin a hodinek. Drobné předměty můžete donést rovnou. V případě větších budeme rádi, pokud nám zašlete nebo v prodejně ukážete jejich fotografie.

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Pamatujte, že každý předmět může být pro někoho pokladem ;). Těšíme se na viděnou v Clock Gallery

Mozarteum, Jungmannova 748/30,
110 00 Praha – Staré Město

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Zajímavosti z Clock Gallery | Clock Gallery interests

Obchod se starožitným a vintage zbožím. Od července 2019 u nás můžete pořídit mechanické hodiny, náramkové a kapesní hodinky a různé doplňky. Pojďme si společně představit některé zajímavosti, jež se pojí s naší provozovnou…

Old clocks shop with antique and vintage items. Since July 2019 we are selling antique mechanical clocks, vintage wrist and pocket watch and other accessories. Let’s share some interests about our store location…


Náš hodinářský obchod Clock Gallery sídlí v Jungmannově ulici. Dům Mozarteum navrhl v duchu moderního klasicismu v letech 1911 – 1912 architekt Jan Kotěra. V době historismu zvolil naprosto moderní a neotřelé řešení. Průčelí oprostil od nadbytečných dekorací. Stěnu rozčlenil dozadu ustupujícími patry se skládanými geometrickými dekory z neomítnutých cihel. Vše zámováno betovou konstrukcí a završeno trojúhelným štítem. Stavba byla dokončena v roce 1913 a stala se vzhledem k okolním jednopatrovým stavbám dominantou.  Jak je z celkového pojetí patrno Kotěra ve svém návrhu již inklinoval ke kubismu. Protože byla stavba realizována pro hudební vydavatelství Mojmíra Urbánka, součástí projektu se stal i koncertní sál s kapacitou 400 posluchačů. Od počátku své existence bylo Mozarteum místem vynikajících hudebních výkonů v orchestrálním nebo sólovém provedení. Při slavnostním otevření zde zpívala Ema Destinová, později vystupovalo České kvarteto, americký klavírista Arthur Rubinstein či venezuelská sopranistka Teresa Carreno. Pražské premiéry se tady dočkal Janáčkův Zápisník zmizelého. Probíhaly zde rovněž přednášky nebo veřejná čtení, třeba architekta Le Corbusiera a spisovatele Franze Werfla. V rámci festivalu pro soudobou hudbu se zde konala veřejná prezentace čtvrttonového klavíru firmy August Forster, postaveného podle skladatele Aloise Háby.

Our Clock Gallery is located at Jungmannova Street. Mozarteum House was designed in the spirit of modern classicism in the years 1911 – 1912 by architect Jan Kotěra. In the era of historicism, he chose a completely modern  solution. The facade was freed from redundant decorations. He divided the facade by receding floors with folded geometric decors of raw bricks. All is framed in a concrete construction and topped with a triangular shield. The construction was completed in 1913 and became a dominant of the street. As can be seen, Kotěra has already tended to cubism in his design. The construction was realized for the music publishing house of Mojmír Urbánek, the project also included a concert hall with a capacity of 400 listeners. Since its openining, the Mozarteum has been a place of outstanding musical performances in orchestral or solo performance. At the inauguration, Ema Destinová sang here, later the Czech Quartet, American pianist Arthur Rubinstein and Venezuelan soprano Teresa Carreno. Janáček’s Diary of the Disappeared has its Prague premiere here. There were also lectures and public readings, such as architect Le Corbusier and writer Franz Werfl. During the festival of contemporary music the quarter-tone grand piano of August Forster, designed by composer Alois Hába, was presented here.

V letech 1933 – 1938 v působilo v koncertním sále slavné divadlo D34 Emila Františka Buriana. Soubor uváděl jak náročné inscenace, jako jsou Molièrův Lakomec či Utrpení mladého Werthera podle románu J. W. Goetha, tak i díla lehčího žánru, třeba Dobrého vojáka Švejka, ale rovněž vlastní hry s aktuální tematikou. Zatímco po znárodnění byl sál přestavěn na nahrávací studio Supraphonu, později Pantonu, přízemní prodejna gramodesek a hudebnin zůstala v domě zachována a existovala tam dokonce ještě v devadesátých letech.

Between 1933 and 1938, the famous D34 Emil František Burian Theater was in the concert hall. The ensemble featured challenging productions such as Molière’s Miser and The Sorrows of Young Werther based on a novel by J. W. Goethe, as well as works like Good Soldier Švejk and current topics. After the nationalization the hall was rebuilt into a recording studio of Supraphon, later of Panton. Store of records and music was preserved in the house and existed there even in the 1990s.

Na průčelí dodnes upoutává dvojice alegorických polopostav od Jana Štursy. Dáma drží pod paží notový zápis a muž lyru.

A couple of allegorical half-figures by Jan Štursa are still attracting to the facade. Lady holding sheet music and man lyre.

Prodejna hodin a hodinek Clock Gallery

U nás pořídíte mechanické hodiny, náramkové a kapesní hodinky a různé doplňky. I zájemci o Pražský orloj v Praze na Staroměstském náměstí si u nás přijdou na své. V prodejně máme vystaven věžní stroj z dílny Ludvíka Hainze, jenž měl od roku 1839 dílnu přímo proti Staroměstskému orloji. Později samotný orloj také udržoval a opravoval. To se pak přeneslo i na další generace této hodinářské firmy. Pro nadšence do pražské historie máme orloj v podobě pohyblivé pohlednice nebo kapesní hodinky s jeho vyobrazením.

You can buy mechanical clocks, wristwatches and pocket watches and various accessories. Even those interested in the Prague Astronomical Clock in Prague on the Old Town Square will come into their own. In the shop we have a tower machine from the workshop of Louis Hainz, who had a workshop directly from the Old Town Astronomical Clock since 1839. Later the clock itself also maintained and repaired. This then passed on to the next generation of this watch company. For enthusiasts of Prague history we have astronomical clock in the form of a moving postcard or a pocket watch with its picture.

V obchodě můžete ale nalézt i další dárky. Kromě klasických natahovacích hodinek jsou to třeba velmi populární kapesní nebo náramkové sluneční hodiny s kompasem. Dále například hodiny přesýpací.

Inside you will find mechanical clocks, wrist and pocket watch and other accessories. We can share many informations about Prague Astronomical Clock on Old Town Square or about Jewish Clock on Old Town Hall at Maiselova street. We are helping people to find perfect gifts for their relatives or friend. For all of them we are trying to offer best possible watchmaking service.

Ze sortimentu starožitností upoutají hlavně hodinky známých značek, mezi které patří Omega, Tissot nebo IWC. Zastoupeny jsou ale i hodinky z jiných proveniencí. Všechny pečlivě kontrolovány a servisovány.

The range of antiques attract mainly watches of famous brands, including Omega, Tissot or IWC. Also represented are watches from other provenance. All carefully checked and serviced.

V neposlední řadě spolupracujeme s filmovými společnostmi, kterým zapůjčujeme předměty hodiny i hodinky z různých období. Tak se už například objevili v seriálu Génius (National Geographic), Skleněný pokoj, Hovory s TGM  a v ve studenských filmech.

We also cooperate with wardrobe managers with requests for watches for movie productions. Some of them were borroved for movie Genius, The Glass Room, Talks with TGM and some students films.

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Jak nosit kapesní hodinky? | How to wear a pocket watch?

Kapesní hodinky se běžně nosily upevněné na řetízku. Velmi elegantně působí dvojitý řetízek stylu Albert s jedním koncem pro hodinky a druhým nejčastěji pro medailon s fotografií. Oba typy se nejčastěji nosily upevněné v knoflíkové dírce u vesty a chránily tak hodinky před spadnutím na zem a udržovaly je ve správné poloze.

The traditional way to wear a pocket watch is attached to a chain. The elegant way to do so is with an double watch chain “Albert” (one chain for watches, other for pendant with photography, sometimes you also see a single watch chain. In either case, they are traditionally attached on a vest through a specific vertical buttonhole. Chain helps to protect watches from falling to floor and keep them in correct position.

Běžný řetízek se závěsem | Albert Chain with Fob

Běžný řetízek má na jedné straně kroužek pro upevnění do knoflíkové dírky ve vestě a na druhém konci karabinku pro zavěšení hodinek. Nejlépe se hodí pro vesty s jednou řadou knoflíků.

The standard watch chain has a keeper (Fob) on one end, and the watch on the other end. It is designed so you can put the keeper through a buttonhole before you button the waistcoat. This only works well with single breasted waistcoats.

Řetízek dvojitý se závěsem | Double Albert Chain with Fob

Pokud chcete působit opravdu mimořádně, je tento řetízek nejlepší volbou, zvláště pokud nosíte vestu s dvěmi řadami knoflíků. Řetízek má dva konce, uprostřed mívá zavěšenou ozdobu. Manžel anglické královny Viktorie tento šperk nosil nejvíce a proto je také po něm pojmenováván.

To make your watch really stand out, an Albert Chain will do the trick, especially if you wear a double breasted waistcoat. It is a double-ended chain with a decorative middle element. Victoria’s Queen of England husband had these chains put through a vertical buttonhole on his waistcoat and it hung beautifully. From that point in time, it became known as Double Albert Chain.

Šatlén | Panel Ribbon Chain

Opomíjeným šperkem bývají hodinkové šatlény. Mívaly podobu zdobených kovových nebo látkových pásků, jež volně visely z kapsy ven a umožňovaly majiteli snadné vyjmutí hodinek. Původně se jednalo o praktický doplněk dámského oděvu, na který si ženy kromě hodinek upínaly různé pracovní pomůcky.

Panel Ribbon Chains are a bit forgotten these days. Usually made of decorated metals or fabric was used as pendant, which hangs out of the vest pocket. Taking watch out of the pocket was much easier.

Kde koupit řetízek na kapesní hodinky? | Where to buy pocket watch chain?

V CLOCK GALLERY máme vždy několik řetízků na skladě. Vybírat můžete z kovových postříbřených, pozlacených, stříbrných nebo zlatých.

You will find a pocket watch chains at CLOCK GALLERY. You can choose from metal, double, silver and gold ones.

IČ: 081 77 341
Mozarteum, Jungmannova 748/30,
110 00 Praha – Staré Město

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