The structure was built in 1926 during the Dutch colonial era, as a gift from the Queen to city’s controleur. It was designed by architects Yazin and Sutan Gigi Ameh. Originally arooster figure was placed on the apex, but it was changed into a Jinja-like ornament during the Japanese occupation. Following Indonesian independence, it was reshaped to its present form resembling traditional Minangkabaun roofs (see Rumah gadang). It is said to have cost 3,000 guilder.
Each clock face has a diameter of 80 centimetres (31 in). Its base is 13 by 4 metres (43 ft × 13 ft) and stands 26 metres (85 ft) tall.
One unique clock feature uses “IIII” for the number 4 instead of the traditional Roman number ”IV”. Based on a local story, the four vertical lines represents the four workers who died while constructing the building.