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Best of Blogs | Best of Clocks Blog | Grandfather Clock Movements

Grandfather Clock Movements

Posted December 13, 2012

While we are among the leading and biggest grandfather clock retailers in the USA, carrying all the leading brands we choose including Howard Miller Grandfather Clocks, Hermle Floor Clocks, Ridgeway Grandfather Clocks, Americana Grandmother and Grandfather Clocks, and Kieninger Grandfather clocks, we do not sell grandfather clock movements, other grandfather clock parts like pendulums and weights, or even grandfather clock plans, or even quartz movements. Go figure.

The quality of Grandfather Clock movements makes or breaks the quality of any grandfather clock, assuming it is in a suitable grandfather clock case.

A key question facing any grandfather clock shopper is which of the three most likely categories they may fit in. One is a buyer of a new grandfather clock, or even an individual who is using grandfather clocks plans or grandfather clock kits, and they want to be sure they either get a certain specific movement, or that the one they are considering or perhaps came with their grandfather clock kit is of high caliber and from a respected maker of mechanical clock movements. A second buyer is trying to replace a mechanical grandfather clock movement for an existing grandfather clock or grandmother clock that they currently own, and the movement may be cheaper to replace than to fix – which leaves open the question of what not having the original movement in a clock might do to its investment value. The third category is someone who is thinking of buying a used, vintage, or antique grandfather clock or grandmother clock, also known as a Tall Case Clock or Longcase Clock, which may or may not be worth considering replacing, but these individuals want to get some sense of the value of the grandfather clock from the quality and maker of the grandfather clock movement.

One fly in the ointment in easily assessing what grandfather clock has which grandfather clock movement comes from a number of variables, including that many grandfather clocks will have no name on their dial, others may have the name of the retailer who sold them rather than the manufacturer, some can be special order clocks with customized dials, and in many instances even knowing the maker of the clock will not necessarily give you any indication of who made the grandfather clock movement or which modes of grandfather clock movement is resident in your grandfather clock case or grandmother clock case.

A good example of this is Howard Miller Grandfather Clocks and Ridgeway Grandfather Clocks. Up until about 10 years ago, both of these American makers of grandfather clocks both used Hermle Clocks German mechanical movements, which are very high quality, in most all of their grandfather clocks. Then, in rapid fire succession, Howard Miller Clocks purchased both Ridgeway Clocks, including Ridgeway Grandfather Clocks, as well as Kieninger Clocks, which were then and still are the other preeminent maker of high end German mechanical movements that make high-end chiming grandfather clock movements in any quantity. Clearly the purchase of Kieninger Clocks by Howard Miller was an attempt to vertically integrate their manufacturing process and Company. Both Kieninger Clocks and Hermle Clocks have excellent reputations, long and storied histories, and each make great high-end mechanical movements.

What Howard Miller Clocks started doing with their mechanical grandfather clocks, mechanical wall clocks, and mechanical mantle clocks was to gradually swap out the new production runs with Kieninger Clock movements instead of Hermle Clock movements, given that Howard Miller Clocks now owned Kieninger Clocks. Ridgeway Grandfather Clcoks, as well as mechanical Ridgeway Wall Clocks and Ridgeway Mantel Clcoks also started being built with Kieninger Clock movements instead of Hermle Clock movements. This was true also for grandmother clocks made by both Ridgeway Clocks and Howard Miller Clocks.

Did this change in mechanical movement makers from Hermle Clock to Kieninger Clock make a material difference in the quality of the grandfather, wall, and mantle clcoks being sold by Howard Miller and Ridgeway Clocks? In our opinion, in a word, the answer is no! Both of these German makers make fine high-quality movements built to last, with similar features, similar chime sounds, and similar in most all other ways as well. Did Hermle Clocks suffer from losing Howard Miller Clocks as a customer. No doubt it stung, but the Hermle Clock Company has innovated, including expanding their own like of mechanical wall, mantle and grandfather and grandmother clocks, and they seem to be prospering today even in these wild economic times.

Another challenge in buying or selling grandfather clock mechanical movements is that people need to understand that the relevant markings in order to get a replacement movement that is either identical or not but would still nonetheless work, the information and words and numbers on the back of the grandfather clock movement need to be conveyed exactly as they are written or the grandfather clock movement provider will not be in a position to be helpful. So much time is wasted by so many because of this lack of knowledge by individuals. It is one of the main reasons we decided years ago not to sell grandfather clock movements, grandmother clock movements, or mantle and wall clock movements of any kind. We will, however, repair and/or possibly replace grandfather clocks for individuals and organizations when we are the ones who are handling the grandmother of grandfather or floor clocks or mantel or wall or cuckoo clock repair, whether a newer clock, a vintage clock, or an antique clock.

Hope this helps our customers and others looking for new grandfather clock, wall clock, mantle clock, grandmother clock, cuckoo clock, and other mechanical clock movements.

Kieninger Clocks model JE Grandfather Clock Movement

1/4 key wind movement with escapement (5 jewels) and triple chime (Westminster, St. Michael & Whittington) for 8-rod gong 120/140/160/180 mm, Plate size 100 x 104 x 2,0 mm, 6 bronze bushings (2nd wheel), spring barrel with removable axle, mantel clock version with escapement (Swiss escapement), pendulum version with solid anchor with stationary escapement (Graham) and automatic beat adjustment, chime shut-off, front or rear winding.

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