FESTO Harmonices Mundi

In the technology center of the Festo Company in Esslingen, Germany, you can see the amazing FESTO Harmonices Mundi.



From their web site:

Festo’s Technology Centre features an attraction of a symbolic nature, namely the Harmonices Mundi. This technical work of art consists of three parts – a world time clock, an astronomical clock and a glockenspiel – embodying the company’s innovative power and precision work.The Harmonices Mundi combines astronomy, mechanics, melodics and electronics. The name is based on a book of the same name written by Johannes Kepler in 1619. In this book, Kepler defines the laws that describe the structure of our planetary system. Fascinated by historical astronomy, Prof. Hans Scheurenbrand (a former member of the Managing Board) spent years working in his leisure time constructing the Harmonices Mundi for Festo.The three-part Harmonices Mundi also includes a modern glockenspiel, with 76 bells and 40 claves that can be struck to obtain various levels of sound.

With this clock the Professor is merging two cultures. The medieval desire to construct an analog simulation of the universe in clockwork, seen in many of the classic old astronomical clocks of the last 500 years, meets the modern obsession with visibility, documentation, and machine-like precision of design and manufacture. Every aspect of the clock’s construction has been meticulously described and illustrated (you can buy the book). You can also browse through this PDF (also in German), for more illustrations and a feel for the mathematical precision that’s going on behind the scenes.

The superb visual design of the project can be further explored on the web site of Linden-based agency Hild Design who worked on the graphics and typography. And you’ll also find an extract from Novum magazine on their site with some more luscious graphics.

It’s not obvious to me whether you can visit this clock if you’re passing through Esslingen, Germany. Perhaps someone can find out?

Thanks to Tommy for passing this on.



  1. I visited this pair of clocks yesterday at Festo’s HQ in Esslingen. We took a tour of Festo’s campus and this was part of it. I was told the clock will keep perfect time until year 4900 at which time it will need to be adjusted on Feb 29th. The white faced clock keeps world time and the phrase ‘Time Flies’ is written on each world clock in different languages. I had to hold back from crying after understanding the amount of precision involved. The Dr. gave the clocks to the Stoll family (who put the Sto in Festo) as a token of his appreciation for the years he spent working for them. Being in the presence of something of this magnitude will leave you in awe.

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