A few words about German box clocks From FixingTime

I thought it would be interesting for readers to learn a little about this type of wall clock, mainly because this kind of clock is one of the most frequently brought to our Clock and Watch Repair Workshop in Valle Del Sol near Mutxamel and El Campello.  We assume from this that there must be quite a few of these treasured heirlooms in homes across the Costa Blanca.

During the early part of the 20th century changing tastes and preferences after World War I, led to the gradual replacement of ornate Vienna Regulators with the more modern and simpler design of the German Box Clock.  As the pictures demonstrate ‘box wall clocks’ come in a variety of designs. Key features and characteristics are a minimalist and utilitarian design. They typically have a simple rectangular or square wooden case with clean lines, a simple crown, glazed features and are not complicated by intricate carvings and embellishments seen in earlier clocks.

Numerous German manufacturers, such as Mauthe, Gustav Becker, The Hamburg American Clock Company, Muller, Hermle, and Kienzle, to name a few, were involved in the design and construction of box clocks, and some of these manufacturers, Hermle and Kienzle for example, are still in existence today.

Box clocks employ either a weight-driven mechanical movement or a spring-driven movement. For the cost conscious, spring-driven box clocks were within the budget of most households, and these are the ones we are often asked to restore/repair.  Whether the movements use weights or springs to power the clock’s operation, they require periodic winding to keep accurate time. The run times were typically 8 days though some were made to run for 14 days. The movement is always housed within a wooden case and is typically viewable through glazed side panels. It was often a ritual in households to wind the clock every Sunday, so it never came to an actual stop.

Most box clocks have simple black spear or spade hands for better contrast against white or silvered dials providing easy readability. A prominent feature of box clocks is the pendulum, which might be quite plain or ornate, which swings beneath the clock’s dial and is visible thorough a bevelled glass panel. The pendulum’s length is adjusted to regulate the clock’s timekeeping accuracy.

Some box clocks have a gong feature that strikes the number of the hour or strikes once on the half-hour. Others also include a chime feature that makes a musical tone on the quarters.  Usually, this tune will be The Westminster Chimes, and his adds a pleasant sound to mark the passing of time.  A clock face with three winding holes signifies a chiming clock, whereas a clock with two winding points indicates a striking clock.

Most box clocks were produced in Germany. German clockmakers were renowned for their precision and craftsmanship, making Germany a hub for clock manufacturing during that era. Box clocks were widely used in homes, offices, schools, and other public spaces. Today, German box clocks are sought after by collectors and antique enthusiasts for their historical significance, craftsmanship, and unique design. They serve as reminders of a bygone era and continue to captivate people with their appeal.

Over the past 40 plus years we, at Fixing Time, have restored many Box clocks.  Our customers remember the clocks in the homes of their grandparents or aunts and uncles.  They remember the ritual winding before church on Sunday.  They remember the striking of the hours. They remember the clock falling off the wall and so on, and every clock comes with its own story.  Some customers want to keep their clock going in memory of loved ones, whilst some simply feel they owe it to the clock, that has ticked and struck and provided the time of day for over a hundred years, to keep it going.

A variety of things can stop a mechanical clock working. Typically the spring driving one of the features of the clock (either the time, the strike or the chime) will finally break after many years of winding. Or the holes in the plates of the movement will become misshapen due to wear and wheels can no longer drive the mechanism.  Whatever the problem is we at FixingTime will be able to get the clock working once again.

So if you have one of these gems of a clock, which has given up (or indeed any clock, pocket watch or watch), and for whatever reason you hold it in high regard please get in touch with us. We are a family of horologists, and we are building our business here in Spain.  Jeff (Odowd) FBHI maintains his position as Chief Examiner for the British Horological Institute (BHI), and you will find FixingTime listed in the BHI’s directory of recommended and accredited repairers. Jeff works alongside David and Gail and together we are proud of our good reputation.  Importantly, we can help you with antique and modern clocks and mechanical watches, and equally with modern high end-quality watches.

We are grateful to all our customers from all over Europe who put their trust in us, often with several of their treasured possessions.  If you can’t bring your cherished clock or watch to us, we will come to you.  We cover Denia to Los Alcazares, and beyond by arrangement.  If we can help you bring your family heirlooms or modern wristwatches back to their former glory, we are waiting for your calls or emails.  Our workshop is open most of the time, so if we can help you give us a call, text, or email to arrange an appointment at your place or ours.  All our quotes are free with no obligation.

Contact us on 608 013 157 or info@fixingtime.eu, www.fixingtime.eu.

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