American Clock and Watch Museum – Bristol, Connecticut - Atlas Obscura

Bristol, Connecticut

American Clock and Watch Museum

Thousands of American timepieces on display in the former clock-making capital of the country. 

Situated in the center of Bristol’s historic Federal Hill, what began with one man’s collection of shelf clocks has now grown into a museum stuffed with more than 5,500 American-made timepieces, including 3,500 pocket watches.

The American Clock and Watch Museum is, at its core, a trip back in time. It places a particular emphasis on its home state of Connecticut, which was once considered the clock-making capital of the United States.

Dioramas demonstrate how keeping time grew from sundials to clocks and how creating timepieces went from individual craftsmanship to large-scale production. Art and industry come together through a series of rooms that show how time and its measurement changed, well, over time.

Display cases house dozens of watch chains and watch keys. Grandfather clocks, grandmother clocks, alarm clocks, pocket watches, and wristwatches sit side by side, filling the air with a chorus of ticks and tocks and chimes each hour. Getting these timepieces to sing their songs every hour on the dot means daylight savings must be the worst time of year for those who work in this museum.

Know Before You Go

Guided tours are given by appointment, but the casual observer can explore and learn on their own. The New England Carousel Museum is less than a mile away.