The present clock can be compared to several others in the Palace Museum Collection in Beijing, illustrated in Qingong Zhongbiao Zhencang, in particular the blue enamel example of comparable shape with closely related bronze mounts and mechanical movement illustrated on p. 61 and to the slightly more elaborate clock illustrated on p. 65 (left). Rotating clear glass barley sugar tubes were among the more popular mechanical motifs; in some cases they were the central theme, although here they make up the backdrop, probably imitating a tropical downpour. Compare the clocks illustrated on pp. 55 (right), 57, 67 and 82 all of which incorporate similar rotating clear glass tubes to simulate running water.
A number of clocks made for the Palace survive. Traditionally, they were ordered from Guangzhou Province by one of the Guangdong officials and rendered as tribute to the Emperor Qianlong. Yang Boda in Tributes from Guangdong to the Qing Court, Catalogue, p. 63ff., discusses the central role that clocks played in the daily life of the Imperial household, suggesting that there was a clock 'In every hall, and on every table...the Qing Emperors lived and worked under the chimes of their clocks'.
The clockmakers had learned their techniques from the British and many clocks were imported from Europe and copied very accurately in Guangzhou, as instructed by Qianlong in his 14th year, op.cit., p.138, before developing a decorative style of their own. 'Known to be precise and accurate', clocks assembled in Guangzhou, often with imported movements, came in a variety of different forms including 'pavilions, flowerpots and gourds'. Compare the musical clocks made in Guangzhou which also incorporate many decorative motifs used in the present example including the red and clear cut glass trim in imitation of diamonds and rubies together with scrolling legs, figs. 82 and 84.