Wadokei Dating

Dating wadokei is not as straightforward as European and American clocks.  Almost all wadokei were individual constructions for specific customers.  Exceptions to this are some shaku-dokei and makura-dokei made in the later period, predominantly in Osaka from circa. 1850.

The three volume book Karakuri Zui published by Hosokawa Hanzo Yorinao in 1796 gives a vivid insight into lantern clock style dokei and shaku-dokei. It must have brought a great deal of standardisation and style to clock production. It describes all the parts and the construction of a single-balance lantern clock, and a shaku-dokei fully illustrated in diagram form; some with dimensions.

From 1800 many clocks were fitted with mainsprings, rather than weights. It is also known that in 1840 Kobayashi Denjiro specialised in making musical bracket clocks.

By using references to wadokei of known dates, together with other factors such as wood block prints (taking into account the dates of the artists), style, signature of the clockmaker (rare), material used, provenance and family history, it is possible to approximate the date of manufacture of wadokei. However, some clockmakers made copies of earlier pieces, which makes matters even more difficult to calculate.

The following table has been prepared to schematically represent clock developments.  This table is not definitive, and is constantly evolving, but provides a useful initial representation of the wadokei timeline:

Timeline V2