The scene depicted by the clock is taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Phaeton, the son of Helios, the sun-god, has borrowed his father's chariot, and startled by the zodiac scorpion, he flies too close to the earth, scorching it. The clock shows the moment when Zeus sends a thunderbolt which destroys the chariot and causes Phaeton to fall to his death. The frieze shows Phaeton's sisters, the Heliads, turning into poplars and his friend Cygnus changing into a swan.
The model of this clock is attributed to thebronzier Pierre-Etienne Romain, who deposited a drawing of this model in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. Other examples are in the Elysée Palace, Paris (J.-D. Augarde,Les Ourvriers du Temps, Geneva, 1996, p. 146, fig. 110., and in the Ecole d'Horlogerie de Dreux (Tardy,French Clocks the World Over, Part II, Paris 1987, p. 275), and in the collection of H.M. the Queen (H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschelet al.,Vergoldete Bronzen, Munich, 1986, Vol. II, p. 355, fig. 5.9.6). This model has previously been attributed to Thomire on the basis of description of a clock of this model attributed to this bronzier in the 1829 Feuchère auction catalogue, lot 69.