Buying Guide Grandfather Clocks
Grandfather Clocks Buying Guide
Posted July 9, 2015
Grandfather Clocks can be the heartbeat of a home, a valued heirloom with grandfather clocks being passed down through many generations. Unless one is a master grandfather clock technician or one of the experts from Sotheby's to Bonhams to Christie's to us at 1-800-4CLOCKS, a grandfather clock shopper can be overwhelmed by the variety of choices, including grandfather clock makers and clock brands, to the many features of grandfather clocks offered by some of today's leading grandfather clock makers including Howard Miller grandfather clocks, Hermle Grandfather Clocks, the Hermle Grandfather clock collection and Ridgeway brand grandfather clocks. There is also the question about buying an Antique Grandfather Clock vs. a brand new Grandfather Clock, such as one by Howard Miller, Hermle, Ridgeway Clocks, or the Hermle grandfather clock company.
You should find these grandfather clock Buying Guide and decision-making analyses and clock choices well presented, and the Posts below to be extraordinarily helpful in your grandfather clocks journey.
Here are our 9 most relevant grandfather clock buying guide posts from our own Clock Blogs and Grandfather Clocks Blog:
Grandfather Clock Styles for Tops of Clocks
Posted August 2, 2007
Many buyers of grandfather clocks, whether looking for grandfather clocks discounts, sales, or those for whom money is no object, ask about what the basic styles and choices are for the top part of any grandfather clocks. In our experience, and whether one is talking about antique grandfather clocks or the vintage or new floor clocks (another term frequently used more or less synonomously for grandfather clocks), the style of the tops generally fall into one of four categories. This is as true for Howard Miller Grandfather Clocks and Ridgeway Grandfather Clocks as it is for antique grandfather clocks made by skilled craftsmen since grandfather clocks first started being made back in 1650. We would break them down into the following four categories:
1. Split Pediment Grandfather Clock Top - also frequently referred to as a Swans Neck top, and are generally associated with the more traditional looking grandfather clocks. Below is an example of a grandfather clock with a Split Pediment:
Traditional Grandfather Clock with Swan's Neck or Split Pediment Top
2. Bonnet Topped Grandfather Clock - generally a grandfather clock with a decorative top centerpiece, and can be on top of a traditional grandfather clock design, or one with a contemporary clock look, and some that may look a little bit of each. Below are examples of two Bonnet Topped Grandfather Clocks:
Traditional Grandfather Clock with Bonnet Top
Contemporary Grandfather Clock with Bonnet Top
3. Flat Top Grandfather Clock - description pretty much speaks for itself, and can be the top of either a Contemporary Grandfather Clock or a Traditional Grandfather Clock.
Flat Top Contemporary Grandfather Clock
Traditional Flat Top Grandfather Clock.
4. Round Top Grandfather Clock - which can be either a contemporary or more traditional look for a grandfather clock, and can be more of a full circle sitting on a base or a half-circle more integrated with the design of the clock. Examples of some different styles are shown below, including one which, while having a rounded top, has another feature which clearly sets it apart from the clock.
Circular Round Top Grandfather Clock - Example 1 (above)
Slim Circular Grandfather or Grandmother Clock - Example 2 (above)
Rounded Top Grandfather Clock - Example 3 (above)
Circular Top Grandfather Clock with a Twist - a Spike - Example 4 (above)
The limits of the designs of grandfather clocks are only limited by the imagination of the artisans and craftspeople, not to mention incorporating the mechanisms and dials, and there are likely dozens of examples that would not fit neatly into any one or even more of the above categories. Grandfather Clocks have the personality of their makers and designers, and to the tastes and influences of cultures, artists of different periods, the consumers - from old-time aristocrats to larger markets of consumers.
Clocks have PERSONALITY!
© Grandfather Clocks Blog and 1-800-4CLOCKS
7 Grandfather Clocks Buying Secrets
Posted October 23, 2010
When purchasing a new grandfather clock of any maker, whether it be one of the Howard Miller grandfather clocks, Hermle grandfather clocks, or part of the Ridgeway Floor Clocks collection, there are certain key questions that need to be understood before going ahead with the purchase.
1. Do I know what kind of movement the grandfather clocks have, and the pros and cons of each? Grandfather clocks have movements that generally fail into 3 categories – one being mechanical and cable driven, one being chain driven, and the third being quartz grandfather clocks. Also know your grandfather clock chime options, which include Westminster Chimes, Whittington Chimes, Saint Michael’s Chimes, Ave Maria Chimes, Ode to Joy Chimes and Bim Bam Chimes. There are also tubular chime grandfather clock movements, the large majority of which are cable driven, but these clocks are generally the very highest priced, and come with their own set of maintenance and operating issues.
Howard Miller Stewart Grandfather Clock 610-948 (610948) – an example of a cable driven and weight driven grandfather clock with traditional triple chimes, including Westminster chimes, Franz Schubert Ave Maria chimes, and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy chimes in a mechanical grandfather clock movement.
2. Do I know that I am purchasing from an authorized dealer for the make of grandfather clock I am buying? If one buys on the so-called gray market from any Store that may not actually be an authorized dealer for the grandfather clock maker of the unit you are purchasing, the manufacturer’s warranty will be null and void. One has to be particularly careful that they are in fact purchasing a new unit from an authorized dealer, e.g. an authorized dealer for Howard Miller Grandfather Clocks or Ridgeway Grandfather Clocks. There are many unscrupulous sellers out there who are not in fact legitimate authorized dealers.
3. It never hurts to ask about an extended warranty! All of the new mechanical grandfather clocks we currently carry come with a 2 year manufacturers warranty against defects. If you ask us at 1-800-4CLOCKS whether we might be willing to extend the warranty and under what terms, you might well be surprised at the answer!
4. Is the clock really brand new? One needs to distinguish between a grandfather clock that is shipped directly to the customer from the manufacturer’s warehouse from one they may be buying directly in a Store – not that there is anything wrong with that. A smart buyer needs to now if the clock was possibly pre-owned? If it is a floor model, how much wear and tear is there on the clock, both on its mechanisms inside as well as the case enclosing the pendulum, weights, movement and dial? Is the manufacturer’s warranty still 100% valid for what one would expect in buying a new clock? Sometimes, say if it is 4 years after a clock has been made, the manufacturers warranty may no longer be valid. Many clock store owners are likely not even aware of if and when that is the case.
5. Should I consider buying used or more euphemistically known as pre-owned? Buying pre-owned is not necessarily a bad option, but when like buying a used car, one needs to know what they are getting themselves into, and to be as sure as possible that they are not purchasing a grandfather clock lemon. One also needs to consider the transportation of the clock, and without the proper knowledge of moving grandfather clocks, one may easily damage the grandfather clock beyond repair in the movement process alone. How well has the movement been cared for? When was it made? Who made which components of the clock, especially the movement. The are many vintage grandfather clocks out there with mechanical movements made by certain makers which we would never go anywhere near (we will not name them here). If one purchases a new clock, one takes a lot of the worry and uncertainty out of the process, and knows what they are getting if they do their homework. The classic phrase caveat emptor applies to buying a grandfather clock, whether new or used.
6. In Home Set-up of a grandfather clock. Many sellers of new grandfather clocks, including some of the largest and most visible on the internet, provide what they call “white glove service”. A prospective grandfather clock buyer, even one looking for grandfather clocks on sale and the best available grandfather clock discounts, must understand what is truly being offered. For the vast majority of the grandfather clocks we sell, we actually include in-home setup by a technician who has been certified by at least one of the grandfather clock makers for whom we are authorized dealers. When we handle it different in a small minority of cases, we discuss that ahead of time with our customers, and typically give them a choice so they know what to expect! The so-called “white glove delivery service” offered by many of our competitors actually includes up to 15 minutes of a truck driver’s time who may or may not have ever before even set up a grandfather clock! And customer’s don’t see this until the clock is unpacked and in their home. The lesson – make sure you are comparing apples to apples and do not be fooled by the all too vague term “white glove delivery service”.
7. Understand before you buy. We are amazed at the number of buyers who delve into a purchase, only to completely change the type of clock they are purchasing and what are the pros and cons. We welcome questions from customers who may know little or nothing about grandfather clocks. Or who don’t understand the pros and cons of a mechanical cable driven grandfather clock compared to a quartz grandfather clock compared to a chain driven grandfather clock. Many of our customers have purchased quartz-driven grandfather clocks not understanding even that this means they are powered by batteries, and the weights will not descend. And what about the amazing AutoWind feature offered on Hermle grandfather clocks; that does take some real research and or back and forth discussion to truly understand all the dimensions that this feature adds. So we recommend, if you are serious about a purchase, to ask and ask and ask, and don’t be intimidated or afraid. And if the people in the Stores or phones cannot answer your questions, visit or call us at 1-800-4CLOCKS.com . We believe so strongly in always having informed advice available to prospective buyers that we never have and will not ever use a Call Center or outsource this interpersonal customer service dynamic. Call us at 1-800-425-6257 if you are serious, and we will give you the education you may want or need, and gladly answer questions or concerns you may have. We will even advise on grandfather clocks similar to one you may be considering, if you want us to. Or the pros and cons of certain grandfather clocks features, such as auto night shutoff , volume control, chime silence options, interior cabinet lighting or illuminated dials. All of this applies to the somewhat shorter grandmother clocks as well.
We realize that by answering many questions, we have raised many others. We will continue to address them in our blog and on our website and in our Stores.
And please, keep the questions coming!
© Clocks Blog and 1-800-4CLOCKS
Weight Driven Grandfather Clocks
Posted November 11, 2012
When shopping for heirloom quality grandfather clock discounts, educated grandfather clocks customers know to look for weight driven grandfather clocks and floor clocks. Historically, weight driven clocks, including freestanding floor clocks like grandfather clocks, are the most precise timekeepers. The weights may require adjustments up or don’t to maximize accuracy, but in the past these timepieces were the best way to tell accurate time. If there is a grandfather clock with 3 weights, almost always it its the center weight which is driving the timekeeping ability of the grandfather clock. One of the other weights would be driving the chime portion of the grandfather clocks mechanical movement, and the third weight would be driving the hourly strike or gong grandfather clock mechanism.
Weight driven grandfather clocks can be either cable driven or chain driven. A cable driven grandfather clock, which is wound in the clock’s face or dial, usually with 3 holes, winding the clock in each hole brings up each of the weights, doing one at a time. Generally a grandfather clock with this type of movement will last the longer, meaning longer than a chain-driven grandfather clock, which is wound by pulling down on the 3 chains one at a time, again with each weight performing the same function. Chain-driven grandfather clocks are favored by many, they are usually much less expensive, but they have fewer frills and add-on features, and the mechanical grandfather clock movement will not last as long as that of a cable driven grandfather clock.
Both types of grandfather clocks movements, made by high-end German makers such as Hermle Clocks and Kieninger Clocks, will typically last 8 days, so if one winds the clock weekly, it will keep running continuously. If you forget, it will not harm the clock to wing it up and start it up again, although we always recommend following the guidelines in your grandfather clock instruction manual. Some of the featured included in many cable-driven movements but not chain-driven movement include things like triple chimes, automatic nighttime shut-off options, rotating vs. faux moondial, and usually larger and taller and more ornate grandfather clock cases.
Another consideration when looking for discount grandfather clocks on sale is that a cable-driven clock, will, in our experience and if not damaged by external forces, and with proper grandfather clock maintenance, should last 50-100+ years. A chain driven grandfather clock, however, because so much strain is put on the movement being wound by pulling on chains, should though still reasonably last 25-50+ years with proper care and maintenance. Clock movements can generally be replaced at a fraction of the cost of purchasing a new clock, although one should always consider the investment value of keeping the clock all original if possible.
Who makes these chain-driven weight driven and cable driven weight driven grandfather clocks? Well, some of the highest end makers include Howard Miller Clocks, Ridgeway Grandfather Clocks, Hermle Clocks and Kieninger Grandfather Clocks.
Interestingly, weight driven wall clocks and less common weight driven mantel clocks generally have all of the same benefits, with the same pros and cons to each kind of movement.
Generally, if looking for the highest quality clocks, whether wall or mantle or grandfather clocks, assuming the maker is one of the good ones, it is difficult to go wrong with a weight-driven clock. Weight driven wristwatches and watches, not so much!
Howard Miller Layton Grandfather Clock
Weight Driven Howard Miller Layton Grandfather Clock model 611-118 611118
© Grandfather Clocks Blog and 1-800-4CLOCKS
Top 10 Features for Grandfather Clocks Wall Clocks and more
Posted January 21, 2010
As we ring in 2010, we thought we might look forward in time by looking backwards. Sound strange? Well, here is the thinking. If we know what are the top 10 Features that people most want in their grandfather clocks, mantel clocks, atomic clocks, wall clocks, etc., it will help us all to offer clocks to better meed the clocks sale needs of customers everywhere.
Here is our guess at a Top 10 clocks features list. We would love input and look forward to sharing it over time.
1. Clocks on sale or clocks discount. Sorry, but had to get this one out of the way, even though it may not technically be a clocks feature. We know it’s top of mind of most consumers shopping for discount grandfather clocks and other clocks, so we thought we would get it out of the way (and remember our Low Price Guarantee!).
2. Atomic time. Atomic clocks, formerly and still also known as radio controlled clocks, are an incredible innovation in timekeeping accuracy. Gone are the days when workers argue about when the 5pm quitting time really begins, and gone are the days of hospital workers who may have to note the time of death (sorry on such a cheery subject, but a reality, and a good example) with no issue of accuracy.
3. Automatic night time shut-off on grandfather clocks, mantle clocks, and wall clocks. Customers who purchase clocks with this feature have the HUGE advantage of having their clock shut off its chime automatically every night at, say, 10pm, and start up again the next morning at, say 7am. Some customers have commented on how helpful this feature can be if they have a clock in a room in which visitors sleep over. They have the option of turning the chime off. Others just love it because they think or fear the sound-chimes might bother them. it really a personal choice, but it is a great one to have.
4. Illuminated Dials. While not new in general, this feature is reasonably new to some high-end models of grandfather clocks, most notably some Howard Miller Grandfather Clocks. Some have illuminated interiors as well. The big advantage is one can see both the clock’s time, and the clock and dial, even when the light is out. It is cool! The only downside is that the clock needs to be near an electrical outlet. But this is a reasonably new feature many people love.
5. Ave Maria and ode to Joy Chimes. In very recent years, the high-end clock makers have introduced movements that many times in addition to the Westminster Chimes, offer one or both of the Beethoven ode to Joy and/or Schubert Ave Maria Chimes. While the Westminster Chimes has been the overwhelming favorite for decades, even when customers have triple chime grandfather clocks, there are many many excited customers eager to also have one or both of their Ave Maria and Ode to Joy Chimes on their Clocks. And these have been made available not only on quartz movement mantel clocks and wall clocks, but also on some grandfather clocks as well, such as the Howard Miller Clayton Grandfather Clock Model 610-950 (610950) . We expect this feature with these chimes to be much more popular in the coming decade.
6. Customization of clocks, especially custom or customized atomic wall clocks. We have seen an increasing desire on the part of businesses and other organization to have atomic clocks, which were addressed above, but with dials that are customized to their needs. While this might seem simple, many clock manufacturers have stumbled in this area. We have been able to address this issue with some special design approaches. And customized atomic clocks for home and office and other organizations will only increase in popularity!
7. Contemporary grandfather clocks. Many people, and we do not agree with this thought, but nonetheless, many people think of grandfather clocks as very traditional and perhaps out of date for today’s times. We hear this at 1-800-4CLOCKS.com quite frequently. Despite the fact that we think there is nothing more beautiful than a traditional or contemporary grandfather clock, and that it adds great home decor value and should be recognized as a treasured piece of furniture, some people are “turned on” only by the contemporary grandfather clocks. We’ve had clocks of ours of a contemporary nature featured both in TeenVogue as well as on a National NBC Home Rescue show. Contemporary is here to stay, and will open up many new avenues and new demand.
8. PC or computer or iPhone or Cell Telephone Clocks. To be writing about this subject and not recognize the reality that people are seeing the time in many more ways than they ever have before, whether it be on their Apple Mac or PC or iPhone or iPod or simply a basic cell phone (and we’ll mention Google’s Droid phone here too, because we like Google). Gone are the days of Victorian England when Parliament had to legislate Public Clocks and Pub clocks so the masses would know what time it is. We believe that the home decor and collectible value of clocks of all types will mean that they will be in homes and offices for many generations to come. it’s interesting that very recent studies show that with so many sources for time, clocks and watches still receive 90%+ of the views when an individual is seriously interested in knowing what time it is.
9. Clocks for Special Needs or Special Markets. Technology is allowing clocks to be made which are leaps and bounds ahead in serving individuals with special requirements. For those who are hard of hearing or have difficulty waking up in the morning, clocks are know available which will not only shake your bed, but they will also have varying forms of strobe lights, AND they have alarms that will knock your socks off, literally and figuratively. For people who are vision impaired, the shaking and the piercing sounds can be an amazing blessing. We plan to be carrying these types of clocks very soon.
10. Green clocks. Would you believe that there is a clock on the market that literally runs on water. And it’s an LED clock, not tied to a bucket. We will right more about this amazing clock, and may soon carry it. And solar clocks are making headway in the market. we expect to see a lot more.
So what do you think? Will we soon have a solar powered atomic customizable grandfather clocks selection? Which features are most important? What new ones should we be looking at? PLEASE share your views with us so that we may serve you better!
© Clocks Blog and 1-800-4CLOCKS
Heirloom Grandfather Clocks
Posted October 29, 2011
When considering the purchase of a grandfather clock, the single most important criterion for many is that it be an heirloom quality grandfather clock that can be passed along to their children and grandchildren and beyond. This is not a far fetched goal. As the author of this blog post sits here, he has a few feet away from him a chiming antique mantel clock that was made in England in the mid-1700s and looks as though it could have been made yesterday. Even closer is a grandfather clock made by the Waltham Clock and Watch Company, most known for pocket watches but they also made some super high-end quality clocks, made over a hundred years ago and signed on its dial by Tiffany and Company. This particular clock was special-ordered by none-other than the founder of Coca Cola as a wedding gift for his daughter. She kept it for her whole life, including keeping it in the lobby of the downtown Atlanta hotel she lived in during the later part of her life.
Even today it is possible to buy grandfather clocks that with proper care and maintenance should last 100 years and possibly much longer. While we could guarantee it, it would not be a meaningful guarantee for obvious reasons. The sad reality is that many grandfather clocks sold today may not last more than a few years. the good news is that all the makers and brands we carry are of the highest quality and construction, and depending upon the type, would fall into the category of the kind of clock that should truly be an heirloom quality grandfather clock that can be passed along through many many generations.
And this is not to say that you still should not seek grandfather clock discounts, and we frequently have many of these grandfather clocks on sale. Visit one of our 1-800-4CLOCKS store locations and you may even get a better discount.
So who are the makers of these highest quality grandfather clocks? One is a brand we introduced and will soon be featuring much more prominently on our website and known as Museum Clocks Grandfather Clocks. Other brands include Howard Miller grandfather clocks, the Ridgeway grandfather clock collection, Hermle grandfather clocks, and Kieninger grandfather clocks. Grandfather clock makers that people still think of today but no longer, at least as we write this, produce grandfather clocks, include Seth Thomas grandfather clocks, Sligh grandfather clocks and Bulova grandfather clocks. While these grandfather clock collections featured some clocks which were very high quality, for different reasons each of these makers exited the grandfather clocks market. We would not be at all surprised if one or more of these brands is resurrected in the coming years once again producing grandfather clocks.
Want to know more about the different types of grandfather clock movements and grandfather clocks brands, please let us know.
© Grandfather Clocks Blog and 1-800-4CLOCKS
Grandfather Clocks: Cable Driven vs. Chain Driven Mechanical Clocks Movements
Posted October 5, 2007
One question addressed to 1-800-4CLOCKS.com on a regular basis is what is the difference, and what are the relevant pros and cons of a chain driven grandfather clock vs. cable driven grandfather clocks.
We attempt here to summarize what we see and believe to be the major differences between these two mechanical movements.
At this point in time, all of the mechanical movements for both Chain Driven and Cable Driven Grandfather Clocks that we sell are made in Germany, and are top quality.
Why buy a chain driven grandfather clock? First, we should address the difference between the a chain driven and cable driven grandfather clock. Both have 8 day movements. Cable Driven Grandfather Clocks are wound in the dial, whereas chain driven grandfather clocks are wound once a week by pulling the chains down to brings the clock weights back up again and start the cycle all over again.
Here is our opinion of the advantages of chain driven grandfather clocks vs. cable driven grandfather clocks. First, the clocks which are mechanically chain driven are generally less expensive in price, because they cost less to produce. Second, because chain driven movements are smaller, they tend almost always be made for and installed into smaller grandfather clock cases to fit into smaller spaces (length, height, width) than cable driven grandfather clocks. Many can even be termed Grandmother Clocks because they are generally relatively smaller. Third, we find that people who grew up with Chain Driven Grandfather Clocks tend to have a sentimental attachment to this style — and what better reason could there be for that!
The advantages of Cable Driven Clocks, as we see them, are first, that the movements tend to have a much longer lifespan (but do not forget a chain driven movement can be replaced at relatively low cost), say 50 vs. 100 years with continuous use). Second, one does not have the chains flopping around next to the clocks’ weights and pendulum. Third, the sounds of the chimes may be marginally better with cable driven clocks. Fourth, the chain driven clocks tend to be housed in grandfather clock cases which are not only larger (including height, width and depth), but also both more decorative and elaborate, and expensive.
Howard Miller Grandfather Clocks, as well as Hermle Grandfather Clocks, Ridgeway Floor Clocks, Kieninger Grandfather, and Bulova Grandfather Clocks, all have some selections in these areas.
The good news is that whichever you pick, you are likely to be very satisfied over time!
© Grandfather Clocks Blog and 1-800-4CLOCKS
Weight Driven Clocks Diagram
Posted April 23, 2011
Explaining to prospective clock customers, whether it is a shopper for a grandfather clock, or a wall clock, or a mantel clock, understanding the differences between weight-driven grandfather clocks and wall clocks in particular is critical to truly understanding clocks mechanisms, and being able to tell better quality clocks from more run of the mill clocks, whether looking at a new or antique grandfather clock or wall clock.
Weight-driven clocks by definition tend to be clocks with the most precision and best and reliable timekeeping. When comparing a spring driven grandfather clock or mantle clock or wall clock to a weight-driven model, in general there will be no comparison in terms of reliability, accuracy, and even longevity of movement. The one exception, sometimes found in the very best antique mantle clocks, is when looking at a fusee driven movement. The fusee movement was invented by none other than Leonardo DaVinci, and is designed especially to allow the movement to run at a highly precise and equal speed whether the clock is in its first or 8th day of operation, compared to a spring driven movement, where the tension varies much more over time. Relatively few clocks are made today with fusee driven mechanical movements, but some high-end makers do still produce them in small quantities. All other things being equal, which of course they rarely are, a fusee driven movement is highly desirable and collectible, especially for a mantel clock where there is practically speaking no room for a weight to descend anyway.
Mapping the parts of a mechanical movement is not easy to do well, yet we came across a wonderful diagram shown and credited below, which outlines the key parts of a weight driven movement.
This clock is operated by weights that, under gravity, drive the hands of the clock in their rotational movement by means of a gear train.
Heavy body that hangs from the main wheel; its descent provides the necessary energy for the clock's mechanism.
Toothed wheel having only one direction of rotation; it is kept in place by the click.
First wheel in the gear train that transmits the driving force of the weights to the other wheels to turn them.
Small lever that is engaged between the ratchet-wheel teeth and prevents it from rotating counter to its normal direction.
Small wheel with teeth that is mounted on a shaft and transmits the rotational movement of one wheel to another.
Anchor-shaped part that frees and constrains the escape wheel's teeth to maintain the pendulum's back-and-forth movement.
Last wheel of the gear train with special teeth that causes the clock to operate regularly and continuously and controls the movement of the other wheels.
We think the descriptions that this source provides are actually very good and for grandfather clock and wall clock shoppers should be mostly self-explanatory. We always welcome your inquiries on individual grandfather clocks, such as the many Howard Miller Grandfather Clocks which are weight driven, or Ridgeway Grandfather Clocks, or Howard Miller Wall Clocks which are weight driven. Hermle Clocks has for many years excelled in precision German movements with weight driven Hermle Grandfather Clocks and a great weight-driven Hermle Clock wall clock selection.
Any questions at any time, just let us know.
© Clocks Blog and 1-800-4CLOCKS
Antique Grandfather Clock
Posted September 27, 2012
Antique grandfather clocks have many charms. Having an antique grandfather clock or antique floor clock in your home or office is like having a living piece of history as part of your decor. Depending upon the age and provenance of the antique grandfather or grandmother clock, given that some grandfather clocks go back to the 1600s, and we in fact sold one from the late 1600s several years ago, the grandfather clock could have been owned in some cases by 10, 20, 30 or even 40 generations of owners. These antique grandfather clocks are true family heirlooms. If only they could talk, who knows what tales of both family and world history they could tell or might have observed.
The earliest antique grandfather clocks were made in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, as well as the Black Forest region of Germany, Austria, Holland, Switzerland and other parts of Western Europe. No doubt some additional countries also had additional pioneers and makers in the grandfather clocks and floor standing regulator and floor clocks industry, also known back then and still today as tall-case and longcase clocks.
What are the differences between today’s floor clocks or grandfather clocks and those made, say, 75 to 150 years ago? And why do buyers of grandfather clocks, at least in the USA, tend to gravitate more towards brand new grandfather clocks made by makers such as Howard Miller Clocks, Ridgeway Clocks, Hermle Clocks and Kieninger Clocks? The grandfather clock purchase decision criteria that we have observed are multifaceted. Buyers of brand new clocks tend to favor the convenience of purchasing a brand new grandfather clock, after aggressive shopping for grandfather clock discounts and grandfather clocks on sale, where the chance of any special maintenance or repair or restoration or malfunction is essentially close to zero if purchasing a high-end grandfather clock, such as a Howard Miller Grandfather Clock or one in the line of Ridgeway Grandfather Clocks.
So convenience and knowing what you are getting seem to be one driving force. Others are that newer clocks tend to come with lots of bells and whistles, most of which did not even exist in antique grandfather clocks, and some others which would make such antique clocks prohibitively expensive today. Grandfather clock chimes may be the best single example, with most high-end grandfather clocks being made today having Westminster Chimes, and frequently being triple chime grandfather clocks also including chimes such as Whittington, St Michaels, and even Ave Maria and Ode to Joy clock chimes. Working moon phase dials are another plus. Illuminated dials and cabinets did not exist until recent years. The same is true of the automatic night shut-off chime option built into many of the nicer floor clocks offered today as brand new grandfather clocks.
Grandfather clock cases made today can certainly rival many of those made in the past. In fact, many of today’s clocks are modeled after some of the nicest traditional and historical grandfather clocks from years gone by.
Having said that, there is something to be said both for the individual handcrafted antique clocks which may truly be housed in amazing grandfather clock cases. At the same time, today there are available contemporary grandfather clocks which have a design, look and feel one would never find in an antique grandfather clock.
We addressed chimes, but one of the biggest differences between antique grandfather clocks and today’s high-end grandfather clocks is in the volume not so much of the chimes, because most antique grandfather clocks did not have chimes, but rather the volume of the hourly gong and strike. Antique clocks, and even many vintage clocks, have a much much higher decibel level or volume on average. The reason is relatively straightforward. Historically, people relied on their grandfather clocks to know the time, and they wanted to hear it unmistakably and throughout their house, within reason. Today’s grandfather clock owners frequently have their grandfather clocks in their living rooms, and not only are their other clocks and watches, but there is their new Apple iPhone 5 and large Sony or Samsung flat-screen television, not to mention the time shown on their personal computers or Macs, or xBox or Playstation in the room as well, all competing for attention. So the makers of grandfather clock movements, Hermle Clocks and Kieninger Clocks in particular being the last 2 remaining makers, both of them German, of grandfather clock movements who make them in any large quantity (and worth having in a floor clock). So this is an important difference.
There will always be a place for antique grandfather clocks and antique floor clocks and antique grandmother clocks. But buyers of these clocks really need to do their homework to make sure they are buying what they think they are buying, that they know its advantages and disadvantages, are are not taken for a ride by an unscrupulous seller or antiques dealer. Many antique grandfather clocks are what’s known as marriages, where the movement of one clock has been put in the case of another. This drastically lowers the collectible value of any grandfather clock. Another risk is buying into a money pit, where more and more work may be required to get the clock working to a satisfactory level. This risk also drives many individuals to but only brand new grandfather clocks.
Do you have an opinion about new vs antique grandfather clocks? Please feel free to leave any comments and open a discussion thread. As we deal in both antique clocks of all kinds, including wall clocks and mantel clocks, and even tower clocks and street clocks, we are open to all perspectives, and want to keep a healthy dialogue and marketplace for collectors of antiques as well as those more focused on interior design and decor.
© Clocks Blog and 1-800-4CLOCKS
Antique Clocks Have Drawbacks
Posted: Friday, July 18th, 2008
Antique clocks are beautiful to look at but in many instances they just do not deliver in terms of functionality. I once ran across a beautiful antique clock at an estate sale and I purchased it on the spot. I loved the way it looked but I was never able to bring it back in terms of functioning properly. Because it did not actually tell the time, the uniqueness of the clock was somewhat minimized, it almost looked plastic because the hands didn't move and before long I just took it out of the room in which I had placed it, opting instead for something that still had life within it.
I was able to find this amazing website that allowed me to find all of the clock styles with which I was enamored but with modern functionality that would allow me to always have a working clock in the room that I had chosen.
I began with a wall clock in the family room; a miniature looking grandfather clock that hung on the wall above the couch. While this is normally a more traditional design, I chose a wall clock that was more modern in design, made from lighter woods and utilizing wrought iron parts that made it a more contemporary fixture in the room.
In the living room I choose a grandmother clock as I did not have quite the ceiling height to pull off the use of a grandfather clock. I chose a more traditional styled grandmother clock with ornate carvings and traditional wood. It plays a beautiful melody every hour on the hour.
Above the fireplace I replaced the antique mantel clock with a clock that looks similar in design but has a modern technology. Now the room comes to life with the ticking of a beautiful clock , that looks beautiful and works perfectly.
© Clocks Blog and 1-800-4CLOCKS