Presented By
Big Ben on Sept. 19, 2013.
Steve Parsons—AP Images

Londoners using Big Ben as a trusty timekeeper over the past couple of weeks might have been ever so slightly late to their appointments.

The BBC reports the iconic clock tower has been running up to six seconds late, according to clock smith Ian Westworth. Big Ben is typically accurate to within two seconds of the actual time, with Westworth describing the clock’s current behavior as “temperamental.”

At 156, Big Ben is allowed some tantrums. A spokesperson was sympathetic to the clock’s missteps, acknowledging Ben “Does have a little fit every now and then,” but asking people to “Imagine running your car for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for the last 156 years.”

The cause of the delay was traced to a mechanical error that occurred on August 15 and 16. Errors are normally fixed by adding and removing old coins in the pendulum to adjust the rate at which it swings.

Luckily for those who want to be as on time as possible, Big Ben is back in fighting shape. The clock’s accuracy is now within the second.

More Must-Reads From TIME

Write to Tanya Basu at

You May Also Like