In 1775 the Frenchman Chevalier visited Varna and described it as following: "There are approximately 16000 citizens, 12 mosques, 2 churches and 1 bell-tower built 20 years ago, on top of which a clock with a bell can be seen ...". From these diaries it becomes obvious that even back in mid XVIII century there had been a city clock in Varna. That clock tower was located in the green grounds behind the present theatre and it was also used by firemen as their watchtower. How did the tower look like, was it made of wood or stones? We don't know. Neither we know when exactly it was destroyed. It could have happened in the years of the 1828 siege of the city or in the fierce fire in Varna during the Crimean War.
The clock tower and Saedinenie (Union) Hall.
The idea to build an impressive city clock tower was accomplished in 1888 at the time when Krastyu Mirski was mayor of Varna. Varna municipality assigned to architect Sava Dimitrievich the project of a stone fire tower with a clock that should be 24 meters high. The construction site was carefully chosen - the new clock tower in the city park and the Cathedral formed the city centre boundaries of those times. The same year Concordia theatre hall burnt out and another hall for meetings and theatre plays was planned to be built close to the tower.
In two years' time the new clock tower and Saedinenie (Union) Hall were build and officially opened to visitors. Firemen used the tower since high buildings were still rare and from top of it they could watch over the entire city. At daytime they used coloured flags to signalize for fire and at night signals were exchanged by lit lanterns. Those fire prevention activities lasted till1898 and replaced by a telephone line. The clockwork was purchased from abroad and the prominent revolutionary Oton Ivanov fixed it on the tower.
Though it remains unrevealed to people's glances, the clockwork itself is a real masterpiece. It is quite strange that against the traditions the name of the producing company was not inscribed on it. The whole system is fitted in a big wooden "box" reached by a narrow winding staircase along the stone walls. The dial-plate in front is used to control the pace of the clock, as well as to correct it. Each fourth second a system of axles and gears transmits the motion to the clock hands on the tower outside. Instead of springs used in contemporary clocks, this clockwork mechanism is driven by weights suspended in the middle of the tower. The winding up is performed by the help of a simple crank arm of a huge drum beside the main group of gear wheels, which winds the string with the hanging weights. Another axle transmits the motion to the bell knocker at the tower top. Till 1930 the bell had been measuring hours two times within an interval of one minute.
Red weights can be seen on the top of the clock tower. The watchmaker Oton Ivanov (who died in 1932) dedicated his life to the clock tower. His son Oton Ivanov inherited his father's profession and love and continued to maintain the clock until his death in 1976.