Clocks

Author
Discussion

Kent Border Kenny

Original Poster:

281 posts

9 months

Sunday 8th December 2019
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I bought an Atmos 568 clock a few years ago, and am really pleased with it. I’d like to get another “interesting” carriage clock, and don’t really know where to start.

Does anyone have anything to suggest?

I quite like the idea of a modern version of a John Harrison clock like the one that he won the longitude prize with, or something very modern, and different to the run of the mill stuff.

A super-accurate pendulum clock would be nice, but a modern one, I’m not so interested in antiques at the moment.

Ligne

248 posts

105 months

Sunday 8th December 2019
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Have you looked at Sinclair Harding?

Depending on your budget, maybe you could commission one from an independent clockmaker.

I made an 8 day wall clock during my Horology degree but it was pretty traditional in appearance, largely down to the mahogany case I used (I’m not a carpenter!). There are definitely people out there who could make one for you.

Kent Border Kenny

Original Poster:

281 posts

9 months

Sunday 8th December 2019
quotequote all
I’d not thought of commissioning one. It’s a nice idea, but maybe one for later, I’m sure that there must be a few beautiful and interesting ones already available first.

The budget is a very long way from unlimited, but it’s going to be similar to a nice car.

8Ace

2,428 posts

147 months

Sunday 8th December 2019
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Good idea. Horology isn't just watches.

Tresco

336 posts

106 months

Monday 9th December 2019
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You mention John Harrison, I rather like this - https://comitti.com/collections/the-navigator


clockworks

2,891 posts

94 months

Monday 9th December 2019
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Tresco said:
You mention John Harrison, I rather like this - https://comitti.com/collections/the-navigator
£12,000! That's crazy money.

OK, it's their "flagship" model, but a lot of the clocks they sell use off the shelf German movements which cost a few hundred quid, and are pretty much worthless on the secondhand market.

I know the OP said he wasn't really interested in an antique clock, but that kind of money will buy a very nice 18th century London longcase (grandfather) or bracket (mantel) clock from a top maker, fully-restored from a good specialist shop. Antique clock prices are quite low currently, so now is a good time to buy. Buy the right clock at a fair price, and you might even make a profit if you sell in a few years.

For something a little smaller, and with a visible movement (mechanism), have a look at "4-glass" French clocks. These are like jumbo-sized carriage clocks, but with pendulums, and often with visible jewelled escapements. It's possible to pick up a good one for well under a grand at auction or on eBay. Not that expensive to service, as they use standard French movements. Make sure that the glasses aren't chipped, as replacing them can get expensive.

A bit bigger and fancier, how about a skeleton clock - ornate cutaway plates and dials, and under a glass dome so quite eye-catching. Make sure that it's a genuine Victorian one, not a 20th century example built from a kit. Again, a grand will buy a good example. Make sure that the glass dome is in good condition - very expensive to replace.

Even fancier, there are a lot of different French clocks out there - figural, architectural, empire, etc. Lots of shiny brass and gilding.
My choice would be a large boulle work clock - most are red tortoisehell and brass marquetry, with gilded embellishments. Maybe a couple of grand for a really nice one. Or a Portico clock - visible pendulum, bit of gilding and marble/slate, but not too OTT.

Kent Border Kenny

Original Poster:

281 posts

9 months

Tuesday 10th December 2019
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That’s a nice detailed reply, thanks, but how do I go about ensuring that what I buy is genuine, and in decent condition? Is it just by going to auction and looking at them?

clockworks

2,891 posts

94 months

Tuesday 10th December 2019
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"Safest" place to buy would be a specialist clock shop, if there's one in your area. You'll pay top money though. These guys will either do their own repairs and restoration, or work closely with other professionals, and should give guarantees. Their reputation is everything, so it's unlikely you will be sold a dud.

EBay can be a good place to buy - plenty of choice, easy to compare prices (check the "sold" listings), and some protection against buying a dud.

Antique shops are a bit risky, although there are some trustworthy antique dealers out there. They have been known to "service" a clock by dunking it in a bucket of paraffin.

Auctions can be cheaper, and you get the chance to actually see before you bid. Go to the open viewing sessions, ask the auctioneer about the clock - they should tell you is it's incomplete/not working/bodged. Chat with other potential buyers - you might make some contacts for future purchases, or find a good repair/restoration man.

Budget for a clock needing a full service if you buy without a decent guarantee.

With most clocks, condition of the case and dial is more important than if it actually works (as long as all the parts are in there!). Getting a dial re-finished often costs more than having the movement restored. Replacing missing/broken case ornamentation can get horrendously expensive if parts have to be cast and gilded. Repairing woodwork is relatively straightforward - find a local cabinet maker or antique furniture restorer.

By contrast, anything mechanical can be repaired and rebuilt. Find a reliable clockmaker who does his own work, and deal direct.

Fakes as such aren't really a problem in the middle of the market. Chinese knock-offs are easy to spot by looking inside - they tend to make fake American and carriage clocks. The finish is generally poor. Modern reproductions of fancy French clocks normally use modern German movements, which are quite distinctive.

Fakery and "marriages" (mix and match movements/dials and cases) are rife with longcase clocks, and to a lesser extent with English bracket clocks. It's relatively easy to "upgrade" a clock by engraving a famous maker's name on the dial or movement. Provenance is important when buying high-end clocks. Having said that, any clock that's been running continuously for 150+ years will have had a lot of work done over the years, so it's unlikely to be 100% original.