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And for that matter, what kind of magic is involved with that clock? Shouldn't everyone have it?

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    Part of me wish this question was a bit more detailled as to what inspired it to be asked to begin with (what is so special about this watch).
    – Clockwork
    Oct 10 '21 at 19:01
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    It's funny to me that in the 90s when Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets came out, real-time status updates for a family was magical. Now it's called Facebook. Oct 11 '21 at 4:05
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    You are aware of just how bad JKR was/is at worldbuilding, and the many logical holes in the wizarding world? Her strength is a good fast-paced plot and not the details. She freely admits it herself, of course. The excellent HPMOR has numerous ways a moderately-logical person could game the wizarding world to get effectively godlike powers.
    – Graham
    Oct 11 '21 at 9:40
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    @Graham HPMOR itself is also full of plot holes and logical inconsistencies, so it's not just JKR who had problems with this. (If you want to debate HPMOR with me, let's go into PMs).
    – Sora2455
    Oct 12 '21 at 1:58
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    @Sora2455 Oh sure, and the version of Harry in HPMOR is a massive Mary Sue. But the author of HPMOR isn't leading a multi-billion-dollar franchise, and fewer people expect perfection from fanfic. :)
    – Graham
    Oct 12 '21 at 6:45
40

Building on Zayn's excellent answer, I think we can infer that even Molly doesn't really know exactly how the clock works or where to get one like it.

“It's been like that for a while now ever since You-Know-Who came back into the open. I suppose everybody's in mortal danger now… I don't think it can be just our family… but I don't know anyone else who's got a clock like this, so I can't check.

— Molly Weasley (Half Blood Prince, Chapter 5: An Excess of Phlegm)

Molly doesn't know anyone else with a clock like theirs, and she can't check — which makes it sound like she doesn't even know a shop or specialist (e.g., in Diagon Alley) that she could visit or write to to inquire. Remember, Arthur is pretty well-connected at the ministry, especially in muggle artifacts — which is very related to an enchanted clock — and they don't know who to ask.

So Molly doesn't know the clock to be unique (since she holds out hope that there could be someone she could ask), but it's rare enough that a reasonably well-connected family doesn't know where to find information about one.

So, the answer to “Shouldn't everyone have one?” is: Even if they should, they'd have to get their hands on one, which isn't easy at all.


My personal head-canon is that it's a family heirloom that's been passed down through generations to Molly or Arthur. To me, this fits the theme of the Weasleys — holding onto odd old things and passing them down, not wasting them. They are pure blood wizards, so even though Molly and Arthur aren't wealthy they may have a few weird old artifacts like this that they could never afford themselves.

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    Good find, although I think I disagree with your interpretation of the "can't check" piece. It's not that she can't check around to find another clock for sale, it's that she can't check other peoples' clocks to see if everyone is in mortal danger.
    – Hellion
    Oct 11 '21 at 12:34
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    But presumably if she knew a soip that might have one, or someone who built them, she could just send an owl to ask about their clocks. But yeah, I admit I'm stretching a little. E.g., maybe she just didn't get around to writing. But Molly seems the sort to do anything if it has to do with her family's safety, and knowing if the danger is for them specifically would be important. Oct 11 '21 at 19:07
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    @PeterCordes We could use this kind of reasoning to render any answer to most questions on this series useless if we just say "well, Rowling's just a poor world-builder". While I'd agree JKR is not a solid world-builder, most questions on this SE require inference from the text rather than being able to extract the explicit information, so I'm very dubious of the idea of dismissing the credibility of any of these ideas just because we've assumed the author was just making it up as she went along. Oct 13 '21 at 7:36
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    Personally, I'm inclined to side with your head-canon that it is likely an inherited object. One thing that is fairly consistent across the magical universe in HP is that magic has kind of stagnated, with much of the great leaps being made way back in the past and a chunk of that knowledge being relatively obscure to even the more learned wizards of the current age. It's very probable that there are many old magical artifacts that wizards possess but whose workings would now be a total mystery to them (or most other wizards for that matter). Oct 13 '21 at 7:45
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    @DoctorPenguin: That's fair. Certainly this answer is interesting and reasonable. I was mostly replying to Chris's comment about using the Molly seems the sort to do anything if it has to do with her family's safety to decide how seriously / strongly to take that "I can't check" statement. There's certainly more room for doubt about whether that was JKR's intent, but it's a solid argument that given the text on the page in the actual books which is a separate thing. Oct 13 '21 at 7:46
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As far as we're aware, theirs is the only clock in the whole fictional universe that does what their clock does, tracking the location of family members. We don't know what magical spells were put on the clock (or the people involved) in order to make it do the things that it does, although it's possibly some form of the Trace or a trace charm.

Note that Dumbledore is impressed by it, suggesting that it's not a common item found in Wizarding homes. That may mean that it's a custom item made for the Weasley family or even something that Molly or Arthur (both powerful magic-users in their own right) designed or constructed themselves.

‘That will be a job for Fawkes when he has finished keeping a lookout for anybody approaching,’ said Dumbledore. ‘But she may already know … that excellent clock of hers …’

Harry knew Dumbledore was referring to the clock that told, not the time, but the whereabouts and conditions of the various Weasley family members, and with a pang he thought that Mr Weasley’s hand must, even now, be pointing at mortal peril. But it was very late. Mrs Weasley was probably asleep, not watching the clock.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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  • I think Zayn's answer casts doubt on the idea that Molly or Arthur constructed the clock custom — she says she doesn't know anyone else with a clock like hers, but her phrasing doesn't imply she thinks it's unique. Oct 11 '21 at 2:25
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    Though possibly Arthur enchanted a real muggle grandfather clock and just didn't tell her where it came from. :D Oct 11 '21 at 2:45
  • @ChrisBouchard - Surely it's the opposite. If she bought it, she could merely ask the purveyor or maker what their other clocks are saying.
    – Valorum
    Oct 11 '21 at 5:22
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    @ChrisBouchard - Well, that others might have a similar one isn't a stretch of the imagination, even if their item is largely home-made.
    – Valorum
    Oct 11 '21 at 6:03
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    When I was at university, before quadcopter drones were everywhere, I knew one person who had built a quadcopter drone, and I wouldn't be too surprised if he knew nobody else who had one. (obviously he got the idea from the internet somewhere though)
    – user253751
    Oct 11 '21 at 13:45
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At the very least, Molly Weasley doesn't know anyone else with one like it.

"It's been like that for a while now ever since You-Know-Who came back into the open. I suppose everybody's in mortal danger now... I don't think it can be just our family... but I don't know anyone else who's got a clock like this, so I can't check."

--Molly Weasley (Half Blood Prince, Chapter 5: An Excess of Phlegm)

If it were known to be a unique object, Mrs Weasley wouldn't have made that comment. She would have ruled out that possibility altogether, rather than suggest that other clocks might exist to people she doesn't know.

Shouldn't everyone have it?

That depends on whether you would agree that everyone should enable personal location tracking on their phones and have that information shared with all of their family members, all the time. Perhaps many families are not comfortable with that level of privacy invasion. Some might be.

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    It's worth noting that on top of the privacy invasion concerns, as I understand, it's fairly rare for a wizarding family to have as large of an immediate family as the Weasleys do. It could have been used as a coping mechanism for a large enough family of that size. Everyone else might still have the clock, but not use it due to the ease of keeping track of one or two wizarding kids. Oct 10 '21 at 22:48

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