Introduction to Clockpunk

What is Clockpunk? 

            A literary combination of history and imagination-- a sub-genre of Steampunk that portrays technology based off inventions pre- Industrial Revolution(I.R.), during the Enlightenment era. Whereas Steampunk is based post I.R. in the Victorian era. Typically Clockpunk does not include electricity or steam contraptions (they weren’t invented yet). Instead we have sun, water, or spring powered gear devises. (clock)
But Clockpunk is about more then what the world would be like with only clock technology, it’s a way of life, a philosophy, so to say. It stems from a culture of people who decided to take action/rebel against the societal norm. (punk)

Clockpunk/Steampunk, what’s the difference?

             Clockpunk is arguably one of the many sub-genres of Steampunk. Yet some people believe Clockpunk, though named similarly, is a separate genre altogether.
 In my opinion it’s in the philosophy that Steampunk and Clockpunk blur lines. Steampunk also has similar values or philosophies, it’s just based in a later era. I’m guessing you’re probably thinking that if Steampunk is inspired from a chronologically later date then it must be a sub-genre of Clockpunk.  I know it sounds all matrix-y but despite that it’s inspired from a later era, I still think Steampunk is the primary genre.
Clockpunk would not exist without Steampunk.
If Clockpunk came first, how can that be?
Because until Steampunk, Clockpunk was undefined. It was an idea. Steampunk made it a movement.
That said, even though I believe that Clockpunk’s rightful place is within the Steampunk community, I will be exploring Clockpunk as a separate entity. Mostly because I'm obsessed with clocks. Don't get me wrong, Steampunk can, and does, incorporate anything Clockpunk, but Clockpunk should not incorporate anything but the values of Steampunk. In this blog I'll be taking into account what was happening in the world during the Enlightenment era and applying that to Clockpunk.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Clockpunk Forefather

 There are many clock inventors that would fit for the Clockpunk forefather, but Clockpunk is not just about technology it's about mentality too. Leonardo Da Vinci best encompasses the Clockpunk mentality. Not only did he invent many clock devices but according to historian Vezzosi "he strongly disapproved of conformism and condemned redundancy and excess of ornamentation." The perfect fit to be crowned Clockpunk's forefather.
Here is a list of other clock inventors over the history of our world. I got this list from this blog- These are all the premiere inventors of clocks and devices out of clock technology.
  • Ibn Ismail Ibn al-Razzaz Al-Jazari
  • Musa Brothers
  • Wolfgang von Kempelen
  • Francesco di Giorgio Martini
  • Jacques de Vaucansan
  • Leonardo Da Vinci                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                 Clockpunk Fashion

  The biggest separation between Steampunk and Clockpunk is clothing. Clockpunk fashion is based off the late 1700’s. This is when fashion begins to express individuality of the person and is made accessible to all stations of class. Prior to this era, known as the Enlightenment era, fashion was inspired by the French. Women wore their fashion in excess.  Painted faces, wide dresses, puffy sleeves, tall hair, bright colors--smothered with ribbon, lace and other decorative trims. The men weren’t far behind them dressing in excess; they also had large fake hair, painted faces, (the introduction to man makeup) and ornate clothing. In my opinion the best media example of this fashion, (and mentality), is in the 2011 released movie;

The Three Musketeers.
In this movie French inspired fashion is bold, competitive, big and bright, just as it was back in the early 1700’s. To the pre-Enlightenment era people, fashion exemplified position of class. This excessive fashion and isolation of the general population inspired change. According to Wikipedia this change was introduced by the Western World’s influence on Europe.  Fashion was “becoming slimmer and using earthier colors and more matte fabrics. It is also at this time when the concept of fashion, as we know it today, begins. Prior to this point, clothes as a means of self-expression were limited. Guild controlled systems of production and distribution, and the sumptuary laws made clothing both hard to come by and expensive. However, by 1750 the consumer revolution brought about cheaper copies of fashionable styles allowing members of all classes to partake in fashionable dress. With this, fashion begins to represent a self-expression of individuality. The constant change in dress mirrored political and social ideals of the time.”
            This is where I believe we see the historical introduction to Clockpunk. The divide in class, (the poor being given no rights compared to the rich), and the physical example of this in how the wealthy displayed their lavish/care-free life through their whimsical and outrageous clothing encourages those with the rebellion mentality, usually lower classes, to go to the polar opposite.
To show their disgust they protest the outrageous clothing colors, and what they symbolize, by wearing black, white and grey. This is, in my opinion, the first rule of Clockpunk attire. It must be black, white and grey! (Fashion rebellion is after all the visual premise for the ‘punk’-- we must rebel against the social norm.)
Secondly, as mentioned in Wikipedia, the clothing becomes simpler. No more puffy sleeves or shiny material, no, now there are slimmer dresses, shorter corsets and matte fabrics. Clockpunk rule number two, the fashion is still French inspired but keep it simple.
However despite simply crafted clothing being popular, we see the introduction to accessories individualizing people’s outfits. Women in the late 1700’s even began to wear men’s accessories, such as hats and pocket watches this was done to symbolize the divide in gender as well as class. I think this leads to what should be the third rule in Clockpunk attire, accessorize!
I believe Clockpunk fashion is and should be different than Steampunk fashion. Steampunk fashion should not have a tight set of rules like Clockpunk fashion does. As I mentioned earlier Steampunk is based in a post Industrial Revolution era, this is around the 1800’s in what is referred to as the Victorian era. Fashion changes again in the 1800’s. But throughout that change the underlying desire to express oneself individuality through fashion flourishes in the Victorian era. Color is reintroduces as is other fashion attire. But I’ll leave it at that-- head over to my punk sister in arm’s blog post on Steampunk clothing for more on Steampunk clothing. Remember the three rules in dressing Clockpunk;

1.Keep it black, white and grey.
2. Keep your base clothing simple and French inspired.
3. Accessorize!

Bellow are some pictures I think are awesome examples of Clockpunk clothing (even though they are labeled Steampunk.) from a designer named Kato--you'll be hearing a lot about her, the Steampunkette loves her.
Clockpunk Mascot

Ok so this one is undecided. But I think it should be the British Bulldog.  Why? Well, mostly because I have a Bulldog and they are awesome dogs. But also because in the 1700's it was one of the most popular dogs. Of course if the bulldog is a mascot it should be an all white, or black and white one!
The contender in the Clockpunk mascot race is unfortunately a rat. Because rats have the best known sense of time. And we've all heard the stories of how Rats impacted the world around the 1600's. Can anyone say plague?

Which do you think is a better Clockpunk mascot?

Help spread the Clockpunk revolution and tell others about this blog!
                                         –Rebecca Sky, the Clockpunkette!


  1. I think that though the rat DOES have a great sense of timing, it doesn't have the social graces of the British Bulldog. Tea anyone?

  2. this si AWESOME!!! im a big fan of steampunk and didnt knew anything of this, is great to know it though, thanks a lot!

    1. AnyTIME! ;) too much? Ok. Glad to be of service!

  3. Grey, anything grey.

  4. Were walking canes popular in that time period? I was thinking of using a silver/gold topped cane in one of my sketches.

    1. Sorry for the late reply. I think they would fall under the accessorize category. Also I'd love to see it when you're done!

  5. All this time I thought I was writing steampunk, and it turns out I was writing clockpunk! :-)

  6. By following the logic, would the Ezio chapters of Assassin's Creed (aka Assassin's Creed 2, Brotherhood, and Revelations) fit into the clockpunk genre?
    I have heard of people saying Yes; others say No. What do you think?

    1. I really like the visuals they have. They spark thoughts of Clockpunk. Though I confess I haven't played it to know for sure.

  7. Rats spreading the plague in the 1700s? You're off a few centuries...

    Also, rats are great animals and a great symbol for clockpunk because of their outgoing intelligence and curiosity. They're basically the dogs of the rodent family.

    1. It was the late 1600's early 1700's that I'm referring to as the rat population was higher than the Black plague of the 1300. This is a good article on it:

      And yeah I'm thinking they're probably the winners. Them or crows as crows are thought to have a sense of time. Which is unusual.

  8. Okay - if one of the fathers of clockworks is Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) why would the clothing be from the 1700s? I've read other descriptions of clockpunk that use the Renaissance time period as the place to start from with this genre. Also, the Renaissance was a time of beautiful color and changes in art with perspective etc. why would the clothes be only grey, white and black? I'm just curious about this as I'm considering writing in this genre and I'm gathering information about it to make a decision about whether Clockpunk and I are a good fit.

    1. Hi Francesca,
      That's a great question and as this sub genre is still being defined,
      (there aren't many Clockpunk exclusive works available), there are
      many theories on starting place and I don't think any are wrong. I think it best fits prior to the I.R..
      For the clothing questions: in that time you most definitely would see the
      colorful Renaissance clothing, however as clock punk is both clock
      (historical qualities and technology) and punk (social mentalities) I
      think the punk is best represented by those who rejected the class
      divide and their symbols of status(opulence). If you were writing a
      historical piece you'd see both fashions. Clockpunk, like steampunk, is
      a fantastical take on historical happenings so I took liberties in
      defining it as I saw best met both clock and punk. That said I don't
      believe in hard rules. I wrote a urban fantasy Clockpunk, where my
      character has to go to hell to take back a stolen piece of her soul
      and hell is a world built out of broken lifetimes (clock parts) so
      there's technology but it's clock based technology like weights and
      pulleys and water wheels etc. And the characters mentalities bring the
      "punk" aspects. If I was following my own post 100% I couldn't call
      that novel Clockpunk. But I do! So I'd say, write what you connect to!
      I'm personally excited to hear about more potential Clockpunk works!!!
      I hope you do write it! xo Rebecca Sky (the Clockpunkette).

  9. The first pic of the girl in grey- what is the thing she's wearing called? It almost looks like overalls. It's cool but I don't know the name :/

  10. have you ever heard of marvel 1602 is its basically clockpunk world with superheroes here's a link to better explain

  11. why ello, dear comrades. I would say Kato is the best mascot, because of these reasons

    !. she looks good in black and white.
    2. she looks like an inspiration.
    3. she looks like a leader.

    So, tea anyone? not much sweetness but can still suffice as something.

  12. Hey, there! I'm starting to get into the different variations of aesthetic punk. Are any of you familiar with solarpunk? It's still a fairly new X-punk subgenre, which posits an eco-friendly future. However, I was thinking that solarpunk could also be used in conjunction with other X-punk settings - and, in particular, clockpunk... since there are limitations of where you could go with clockwork alone.

    I wrote a bit on my proposed clockpunk+solarpunk setting here:

    I figured that the main story should be set in the late-1600s (Baroque Era in real life), but that the point-of-divergence occurs two centuries prior - where Christopher Columbus never makes it to the Americas.

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  14. I've always been a fan of ancient civilizations, especially the ancient Greeks. After I learned about the "Antikythera mechanism" I thought it would be cool to have a ancient Greek clockpunk setting. Just a thought. :)

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