Night clocks were designed to indicate the hours with a dial illuminated from behind with an oil lamp. In this way, the numbers would have been visible in a dark or dimly lighted room. They never became very popular, however, as keeping the lamp alight through the night required constant care, either by refueling or trimming the wick.
This timepiece was a collaborative effort of several of the most skilled artists who worked for the Medici family in Florence, including Leonard van der Vinne and Giovanni Battista Foggini. In addition, the statue of the boar mounted on the top may have been modeled by Massimiliano Soldani Benzi, based on a classical marble statue in the Uffizi. The clock's architectural shape copies the form of church altarpieces, while its elaborate stone decoration includes both flat scrolls in mosaics and innovative three-dimensional fruit garlands at the sides. The mechanism was created by Francesco Papillion.