What an expensive clock looks like

Most of the clocks people ask me to repair or service value between £50 to about £400. The reason I get more of these is that they are more common and people come to me to get clocks fixed for largely sentimental reasons. I dont consider value when I take work on – its just about getting the clock working for the customer and making everyone happy. Nice and simple.

Every now and again I get an expensive clock to fix. Theres a lot of snobbery in clocks and value usually equates to the name or brand. Everyone who collects clocks wants named items and there is a defininte prestige hierarchy in makers of the various sorts, as there is in jewelllery or with silversmiths.

The picture set below this article shows a typical clock worth between £1000 – £1500. Key features are:

  1. The quality of the case and the materials used. Onyx in this case, on brass with gilt on some components.
  2. Cloisonné enamal work on the dial and pendulum. Some cloisonne work doesnt measure up to close inspection, you can see its been hurried. In this case the enameling is well executed with variations in shade on the petals and close attention to detial.
  3. The movement is precision engineered and looks fantastic, even without the face attached. Bearing in mind it chimes on the full and half hour there are a lot of mechanics in there but its made to look beautifully simple and uncluttered. The movement is exposed and is SUPPOSED to look good which of course it does.Its stamped on the back with the makers name.
  4. Its maker is known.

When I saw it I knew it was 1880 – 1900 just from the style of it really and guessed it was northern European. A bit of investigation at the back showed the makers mark L Marti with a helpful date or 1889 but infact this turned out to be a French maker as opposed to a German one as I had originally thought.

The thing that really sets this clock apart is the quality of the movement. Once you have seen a few of these you start to get to really understand why some clocks are worth more than others even though they all do the same thing pretty much the same way with pretty much the same accuracy.

The owner of this one showed me a valuation certificate of £800 which was about 30 years old. Now, the clock is, at a rough estimate, about £1200 to replace. People never seem to sell clocks they have owned for some time so what a clock is worth is a moot point for the most part – but people always like to know the age and value of items in my experience and I am happy to oblige.