Antique clocks provide a satisfying combination of masterful mechanics and brilliant beauty, from striking antique mantel clocks to the gentle cluck emanating from a cuckoo clock. Regardless of whether it is the precision of the “tick” that lights your fancy or the great clockmakers that conjured true works of art with their timepieces that drives you, collecting antique clocks can quickly become a lifelong passion. In this article, discover how to identify the best examples at auction, advice on key makers, and evolution of styles over the course of history.
When it comes to collecting antique clocks, making an informed purchase means knowing about makers and styles, but it also means checking several aspects of the clock to ensure that the example you’ve selected is worth its full value. Factors that can determine the value of antique clocks include:
Clocks that are in excellent condition will garner a higher price than those bearing chips, scratches, or those that are missing elements. Even if an antique clock offers a spectacular exterior, you also need to be sure to check that the condition of the clock’s movement, which comprises all the elements that make the clock function, is in equally splendid shape. You should inspect everything from the dial to the escapement, which is the mechanism of springs and weights that keep the hands moving.
While some clocks can return to their former glory with the right restoration, it is important to note that unrestored clocks with original features or glass that are still in exceptional condition tend to sell at higher prices.
Often the authenticity of an antique clock can be confirmed by the presence of a clockmaker’s trademark or insignia that is inscribed on the clock’s movement. Without such markings or an associated label, a clock that is merely attributed to a specific maker will most likely be valued less.
Driving the value of many antique clock prices is when that clock came from a prominent collection. The Breguet Sympathique clock, for example, that was once owned by the Duc d’Orleans, holds the record as one of the most expensive antique clocks to ever appear at auction.