The ringing mechanisms first appeared on wall clocks before the appearance of wrist watches and pocket watches and other portable timepieces. Their function was mainly to ring the time during the night in order to avoid having to light a candle with the risk of fire that went with it. This was one of their first objective, to indicate the time in the dark. These timepieces sounded the time as it passed. Then came the timepieces that sounded it on demand called repeater. The precision of these repeater watches became more and more fine to reach the minute. Also, they were reduced in size until they became wristwatches.
Some watches are equipped with a single gong that sounds once at each full hour.
The petite sonnerie chimes the hours only when the full hour passes, then every 1/4 hour it rings the corresponding 1/4 hour without repeating the hours.
Considered the queen of complications, the Grande Sonnerie chimes the hours and quarters by repeating the hours at each quarter.
The minute repeater chimes at any time and on demand the time of day to the minute.
The Westminster carillon refers to the melody as heard on Big Ben in London.
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