Strings once hung down from the clock through the two holes pierced on each side of this lyre-shaped wall clock. When pulled, they activated a chime that enabled the owner to hear the time in the middle of the night or in a darkened room. Known as a pendule d'alcove, this clock would have hung in an alcove above a bed. Appropriately enough for a timepiece, the lyre shape is associated with Apollo, god of the sun.
A complex clock such as this one was a collaborative effort on the part of numerous craftsmen, probably in André-Charles Boulle's workshop. The clockmaker, who produced only the movements, would have commissioned a sculptor to design the model, a bronze caster to produce the bronze mounts, and a gilder to chase and gild them. Then an enameler would paint and fire the enamel numbers, each of which was inserted individually.