The name Klaxon is almost synonymous with alarm sirens. The British company Klaxon manufactured the first mechanical sirens and horns in Birmingham. Before they were eventually replaced by electrical versions, these mechanical sirens were standard issue in cars, trains and ships. Klaxon alarms were typically used on submarines as well (diving alarm).
Submarine Dive Alarm
Klaxon horns and sirens create their characteristic sound entirely through mechanics. A rotating, corrugated gear wheel rubs against a rivet that is fastened to a spring-steel membrane. The rotation of the corrugated wheel triggers movement in the rivet and in the spring-steel membrane, which leads to the typical Klaxon sound. The horn then adds a natural amplification to the membrane sound.
The typical Klaxon Horn Sound
Klaxon alarm sirens were often used in the harsh environments of submarines, ships and industrial buildings. It comes as no surprise then that the unique siren sound of the Klaxon can be heard in many movies. A submarine movie without a Klaxon diving alarm is not a real submarine movie!
The Klaxon horn made another famous appearance in George Lucas' Star Wars films. Just one example: Ben Burtt, the sound designer and creator of the Star Wars sounds, used a Klaxon horn for scenes set inside the Death Star.