Paris : the Time Defender, the clock with automatons, reinstalled in the Horloge district

Published by Laurent de Sortiraparis · Photos by Laurent de Sortiraparis · Published on February 7th, 2023 at 02:16 p.m.
Do you know the Defender of Time, in Paris? This automaton clock gave you the time with its globe clock and its soldier fighting a chimera with his sword and shield movements... But that was before it was removed from the clock district, near the Pompidou Center, in 2003, because of its condition and the city's refusal to restore it, due to its high cost. A clock that has just returned to the neighborhood, this February 6, 2023. Discover its history!

It made the beautiful days of the Horloge district, then disappeared overnight... The Defender of Time, a work of the French artist Jacques Monestier, has long punctuated the life of the inhabitants of the district that gave it its name, between the streets Saint-Martin, Rambuteau, du Grenier Saint-Lazare and Beaubourg. A work of art, a clock with automatons, a real beating heart that delighted the residents until 2003, when it disappeared from 8 rue Bernard-de-Clairvaux, where it was installed in the 3rd district of Paris.

The Defender of Time in Paris: technical details

The clock is 4m high, and weighs one ton. It includes, next to the spherical dial, a man, a kind of soldier with a sword and a shield in each hand, defending the clock against three creatures: a crab, a bird and a dragon. The three animals represent the sky, the fire and the sea. Every hour, between 9am and 10pm, the soldier took turns fighting one of the three creatures. On the other hand, at 12:00, 18:00 and 22:00, the three creatures attacked him simultaneously.

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This work was commissioned in 1975 by the Cogedim company and created by Jacques Monestier, with the help of the artists Louis Desouches for the dragon's scales and Alain Moirod for the steel structure. It was installed on rue Bernard-de-Clairvaux, in Paris, in September 1979, then inaugurated on October 8, 1979 by the mayor of Paris at the time, Jacques Chirac. A first restoration took place in 1995, with a technique reviewed from top to bottom. Thus, the quartz clock was replaced by a radio-controlled clock, just as the sound installation was reviewed, passing from the tape recorder to the CD player.

Le Défenseur du TempsLe Défenseur du TempsLe Défenseur du TempsLe Défenseur du Temps

A small turn and then goes away... For a return to grace!

And then one beautiful day of 2003, on July 1st, more precisely, no more functional clock (we specify: it was not removed, it just did not function any more). The reason? Too expensive to restore. Jacques Monestier thus decided to pull the plug on his work, for lack of means to carry out the maintenance necessary for its operation. But don't say goodbye too quickly... And for good reason: the artist Cyprien Gaillard has completely restored it to make it the main piece of his exhibition at Lafayette Anticipations, HUMPTY/DUMPTY, which runs from October 19, 2022 to January 8, 2023.

Exposition HUMPTY\DUMPTY au Palais de Tokyo et à Lafayette Anticipations - nos photosExposition HUMPTY\DUMPTY au Palais de Tokyo et à Lafayette Anticipations - nos photosExposition HUMPTY\DUMPTY au Palais de Tokyo et à Lafayette Anticipations - nos photosExposition HUMPTY\DUMPTY au Palais de Tokyo et à Lafayette Anticipations - nos photos HUMPTY\DUMPTY exhibition at Palais de Tokyo and Lafayette Anticipations - our photos
The Palais de Tokyo and Lafayette Anticipations are hosting an exhibition by Cyprien Gaillard, HUMPTY\DUMPTY, from October 19, 2022 to January 8, 2023. An artistic project exhibited simultaneously in two different venues. [Read more]

The work was reinstalled in its original location in its neighborhood just after the exhibition, on February 6, 2023. It is now back in operation, and is giving the heart of the neighborhood a new lease on life. The opportunity to rediscover this curious work, and to preserve its memory! Let's go for a walk, friends?

Practical information

Location

8 Rue Bernard de Clairvaux
75003 Paris 3

Route planner

Access
Metro line 11 "Rambuteau" station

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