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28 January 2020

Revolutionary inventions from Mechelen

Nick Vanhaute
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Written instructions issued in 1859 stated that the clock winder should ensure that the clock in St Rumbold’s Tower was always synchronized with two specific reference points. However, the irregularity of the clock mechanism made that a near impossible task. In 1860 Louis Michiels, a Mechelen bell-founder, came up with an innovative electronic device that enabled a turret clock to work synchronously with a master clock. He lost no time in patenting his invention.   And Michiels did not stop at one revolutionary invention. Around 1880 he introduced the minute impulse, tower keeper Nick Vanhaute tells us. “He had come up with a system whereby the hand only produces one impulse per minute, whereas previously the clock was always in motion.” Michiels took that idea to an invention competition in Paris. “He was severely criticized by the jury, who did not recognize his idea as progress.” This proved to be a serious error because a minute impulse is now the standard…