The First Digital Clock, the one of Santa Maria Novella Station

It can be seen from afar, as it should be for public clocks, and as it has always been for the clocks that we see on bell towers and municipal buildings.

What we want to talk about is in Piazza Santa Maria Novella, on the wall at the entrance to Florence Station.

A truly curious watch, and avant-garde for the era in which it was made.

It is not round, but an unusual bifacial pyramid, so that it can be seen even when coming from different directions.

It has no hands, but large white numbers on a black background.

It is not mechanical but electrical.

It is the first digital public clock

The clock was designed in 1935 by the architect Nello Baroni who also collaborated in the construction of the New Traveler Building of the Florence Station which has become a symbol of modern architecture.

It was not only the first “digital clock”, but also the first synchronized clock with all the others in the building: thanks to a precision electric motor, a pulse is emitted every 60 seconds to a copper cable that connects all the clocks internal and external and thus the minute and hour numbers change at the same time.

One pulse per minute, absolute precision for the time, essential within a station.