Antique Clocks - Buyers Guide

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Antique Clocks - Buyers Guide

Buyer’s Guide to Antique Clocks

If you're looking to purchase an Antique Clock then perhaps you need some advice on what to consider before you buy.  Our buyers guide below gives Expert and Interior Design advice to help you.  Read on for more... 



Expert Antique Dealers Advice

Chris Watts of Salisbury Antiques began selling antiques in 1965; below he uses his extensive experience to outline five key points to consider when purchasing antique longcase clocks.

1.  Movement
It is important that the movement belongs to the dial. If the front plate has additional or spare holes it is generally assumed that this is because it belonged to a different dial.

2.  Casing
You may also wish to consider whether the case belongs to the movement, the mask around the dial will not fit the dial succinctly if it is not the original casing. The date of the movement should correspond to the date of the dial. 

3.  Decorative Features
Clocks that have been enamelled or painted will be of more monetary worth if the decorative features are original. It is possible to tell if there is layer upon layer of different paint in some cases.

4.  Size of the Dial
Early brass faces on longcase clocks tended to be in the region of 10-to-11 inches, clocks from the early 18th C tended to have smaller dial faces, as the years progressed the dials steadily increased in size. It would be reasonable to assume that a longcase clock with a smaller dial is older.

5.  Regional Variations
Most regions had local clocksmiths; therefore the price of a certain clock can vary from region to region. A Salisbury clock for example would tend  to be more desirable in Salisbury than any other part of the country.


Interior Designers Guide to Buying Antique Clocks interior designer, Lizzie Greenaway, discusses five ways in which you can showcase a variety of antique clocks in your home to suit your interior.

1.  Treat a Wall Clock as a piece of Art
An antique wall clock can make for a particularly attractive piece of decoration hung, whether it be alone or as part of a collage of art work, although it is identified as a functional item of the home it can also add to the wall space of a room, creating a pleasant visual impact.

2.  Mix and Match
Why not feature a different timepiece in three or four different rooms of the house, make your antique clocks a talking point, with a delicate mantel clock in the bedroom, an Art Deco Wall clock in the lounge, a Granddaughter clock in the dining room and a vintage clock in the kitchen, for example. 

3.  Style and Substance
Of course it is important the clock works, its functionality is key and it is useful on a practical level but the clock should seek to look in keeping with the style of your interior, the size of the clock can impact greatly upon the interior. Think about what would look seamless; a silver mantel clock would look lovely in an elegant bedroom, whereas a cuckoo clock would look dramatic in an extravagant hallway, with lots of height and space.

4.  Decorative Feature
Take a French antique clock for example, many of these are exquisite in their designs, made from bronze, gold, marble and porcelain, they are stylish and look stunning displayed on a mantel or windowsill to admire. These clocks do not need to be big to make an impact as their beauty is often in their intricacy.

5.  The Art of Craftsmanship
Clocks made prior to the 19th C were handmade with skill and care by clockmakers with fine expertise. A Grandfather clock from the 17th C was built to withstand the test of time; a clock of such standing invokes an atmosphere of grandeur. It impacts an interior, suggestive of wealth and power and history, it can act as the perfect focal standalone piece in a dining room or lounge. 

Antique clocks in the home


Extra Considerations when Buying Antique Clocks


From a practical point of view there are a number of considerations when purchasing an antique clock, for instance it is useful to get a guarantee of authenticity off the seller wherever possible. Look out for identifying marks on the antique clock too, is there a signature, a label or any other relevant markings that identify its maker. The condition of the clock will affect its value, whether it has been restored, altered and if it has been preserved adequately. 

Environmentally Friendly

One of the main benefits of an antique clock for the environment is its total lack of reliance on electricity. Antique clock mechanisms are designed to be wound, they leave no environmental footprint, alongside this by purchasing an antique clock you are avoiding the need for further production. Items of antiques are perfect to reuse, they were built to last so you further avoid added expenditure down the line and these perfectly working clocks do not end up in landfill. 

Valuing Antique Clocks

In order to determine the value of an antique clock identifying the clock properly according to its age, maker, and origin, is critical in determining how much it is worth. The maker’s label or signature, whether it is handmade and its appearance are all contributing factors to its value. You can seek an appraisal for your antique clock from an unbiased professional; this is useful when establishing how much the clock should be insured for. Antique clocks in excellent condition, which are rare or unique, will often be attributed with a higher value.


It is important to use a fully insured and reputable delivery service when transporting your antique clock. Many antique clocks, especially larger ones are likely to be damaged in transit unless they are handled properly. It is best to let the mechanisms run down to a stop before transporting wherever possible too. If there are any removable parts that may snap or break you can also remove these and wrap them separately. It is useful to wrap the clock in bubble wrap, before wrapping it again in cardboard and placing it in an adequately sized box.


Antique clocks are very different to clocks of today and do require maintenance, if there is a fault with your antique clock or a problem with the working mechanism it is very important to take the clock to an expert in the field to get it fixed. If you own an antique clock it is very useful to understand how to wind them if required, some need winding as much as once a day. 

An antique clock is an attractive feature of the home, so it is worth making sure its appearance is up to standard, this will mean regular cleaning. It is important to note that it is best left to a professional to clean the working mechanics of the clock, but it is easy to gently wipe, dust and polish the exterior of the clock. Avoid harsh cleaning products as they may affect the patina of the clock negatively.

The charm of an antique clock is undeniable, the simplicity of the passing of time, the soothing ancient mechanism, the uniqueness of their designs all make for an item of antique furniture that is simply timeless.


Image Credits:
Antique Clocks 1 (first Image): Adobe Stock © Andrey Armyagov #78639320
Antique Clock 2 (image to the left):
Antique Clock 3 (image to the right):
Antique Clock 4 (last image):