While most of the Quartier de l’Horloge, or the Neighbourhood of the Clock, in Paris is dreary concrete, the mechanized timepiece for which it is named is a stunning automaton called “Le Défenseur du temps,” or “The Defender of Time.”
Unfortunately, it was frozen into action for more than a decade. Even in its frozen state, it remained a spectacle. The epic scene of man vs. nature was made by French artist Jacques Monestier in 1979. On a craggy landscape of brass, steel, and gold leaf gilding, a metal man with a massive sword engaged in battle with a dragon, rooster, and crab on the hour, except three times of day when he was barraged by all three. The animals represent the ground, the sky, and the sea, respectively, and the sounds of the earth moving, the wind, and the waves would soundtrack the battles.
While the man always won his battles against the animals and time marched on, funding for the preservation of the clock dwindled. But in 2022, it was completely removed for an extended restoration process.
After nearly twenty years of stillness, people can once again see the defender of time valiantly do battle with the sky, earth, and sea once more. The automaton has been repaired and reinstalled and at the beginning of each hour, between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m., will move for approximately two minutes. At 12 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., the man fights all three animals at once.