The Surprising History of Antique Carriage Clocks

Antique carriage clocks have a rich past and add character to any residence’s decor. Carriage clocks have a surprisingly intriguing saga that makes them exceptional antique items to collect. From their astonishingly bloody origins to their significant historical impact, carriage clocks are antiques that have carved their place in the annals of time.

How the Antique Carriage Clock Got Its Name

Unlike other inventions with more obscure name origins, carriage clocks have a reasonably straightforward history. During the 19th century, inventors specifically designed these clocks for travel. The carriage clock’s primary feature is its handle, which was often quite ornate. It seemed obvious to call them carriage clocks as they can quite literally be carried places. However, they’ve held other titles, like Officers’ clocks. This alternative name originated because armies on the move often used these clocks.

How Do Carriage Clocks Work?

Although the main feature of carriage clocks was their handle, the interior mechanics are just as fascinating. Antique carriage clocks are spring-driven clocks with a balance and balance spring. These two features are integral to the clock’s foremost goal of telling the time accurately. Another unique aspect of carriage clocks is the platform escapement. In many models, carriage clocks have a glazed aperture to showcase the platform escapement better. These additions allowed the carriage clocks to be portable and replace the clunkier pendulum based clocks of the time.

Disadvantages and Advantages of Carriage Clocks

The antique carriage clock comes with its share of disadvantages and advantages like every other clock. Let’s look at a disadvantage first. Carriage clocks used to be a popular gift. Employers would often give their retiring employees or loyal staff members a carriage clock. However, as humanity enters the modern era of technology, traditions like these have faded from popularity. For people who prefer an abstract and contemporary aesthetic, antique objects like carriage clocks won’t be practical.

Despite this drawback, antique carriage clocks have several distinct advantages. Because of their relatively small design and classical appearance, the carriage clock is a perfect fixture in most households. It adds charm and character to home offices and proudly decorates the mantel. It may seem cliché to call it a timeless antique, but carriage clocks have genuinely integrated themselves into the average residence far more than its contemporaries. Many people find their portability and compact size makes them superior to a gigantic pendulum clock. Carriage clocks combine practicality and style for people who prefer a classic, non-digital clock.


The Surprising History of Carriage Clocks

As mentioned previously, carriage clocks have a stunningly dark and bloody history. Like many inventions, people created carriage clocks because of the demands of those in power, and in the 19th century France, there was no one more powerful than Emperor Napoleon. Abraham-Louis Breguet invented the very first carriage clock for Napoleon in 1812. Napoleon is famous for his military campaigns, and carriage clocks became an integral part of battles.

Because of their portability, carriage clocks were used by officers in the army to tell the time. Clocks with pendulums, which were popular at the time, could not be carried without damaging the internal mechanics. So, for soldiers always on the move, carriage clocks provided an enormous advantage.

Overtime, carriage clocks slowly trickled into casual French society, although the best designs remained in the wealthy’s houses as a sign of prestige. In Saint-Nicolas d’Aliermont, a clockmaker called Armand Couaillet started a factory to mass-produce this new type of clock. From 1880 and 1920, his business created and distributed thousands of carriage clocks as the general public embraced them. Carriage clocks became such a wildly popular alternative to the pendulum clocks of the time that they spread across the globe to countries like England and America. It’s not an understatement to claim they significantly impacted history and revolutionised technology.

A few particularly famous antique carriage clocks are any models from the original inventor Breguet. After his first invention, Breguet made about 90 other carriage clocks. These would now be extremely rare and valuable.

Serious collectors will look for certain case styles ,case sizes or makers like: Dent, Frodsham, Cole, Vulliamy, Drocourt, Jacot.

Find an Antique Clock Today

If you’re looking for an antique clock of your own, we have several antique carriage clocks, but also antique mantel clocks for sale and antique wall clocks for sale. Keep an eye on our assortment as it changes regularly. Not quite sure what you want? Let us know, and we can quickly source it for you. Although our primary location is in Perth, Australia, we can ship to places nationally and internationally, like Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the United States of America. We pride ourselves on collecting the most classic and beautiful antique clocks.