Su Song, a Chinese expert in the calculation of calendars, otherwise known as an astronomer, built the first Chinese water clock. Su Song was not only an astronomer, but also a cartographer, zoologist, pharmacologist, mineralogist, and an engineer. He lived from 1020-1101, and died at the age of 81. At one point during his long life he was appointed the Ambassador of the Song dynasty. His most famous achievement occurred when he led a team of skilled mathematicians and artisans in building the large water clock tower.
It took them about 12 years to build because it was such an immense project for the time. The final product was finished in 1088 C.E. Although the length of time cannot be confirmed, historians believe that the clock stood at the capital between 39-79 years before being disassembled by the Jin army. The army brought the clock back the city, now known as Beijing, hoping to put it back together and keep it as their own. The army was faced with a challenge when they discovered they did not bring the plans with them. They were unsuccessful in rebuilding the clock because it was so intricate and difficult to understand. When a new emperor gained control of China, he commanded Su Song"s son, Su Xie, to rebuild the clock. After several years and numerous attempts to rebuild the clock, he failed. He realized that even with the plans, rebuilding the clock was nearly impossible because his father had left key parts of the clock out of his building plans. It is believed that he did this intentionally so that no one could ever have a clock like his. Even to this day, no one has been able to successfully replicate Su"s clock the way it was originally.