Chemical clocks are often used as exciting classroom experiments, where an induction time is followed by rapidly changing colours that expose oscillating concentration patterns. This type of reaction belongs to a class of nonlinear chemical kinetics also linked to chaos, wave propagation and Turing patterns. Despite its vastness in occurrence and applicability, the clock reaction is only well understood for liquid-state processes. Here we report a chemical clock reaction, in which a solidifying entity, metal-organic framework UiO-66, displays oscillations in crystal dimension and number, as shown by X-ray scattering. In rationalizing this result, we introduce a computational approach, the metal-organic molecular orbital methodology, to pinpoint interaction between the tectonic building blocks that construct the metal-organic framework material. In this way, we show that hydrochloric acid plays the role of autocatalyst, bridging separate processes of condensation and crystallization.