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What are the most common types of antique clocks?

Are you looking for a unique antique clock to decorate your home or add to your collectables? Antique clocks come in various fascinating sizes and styles. But without basic knowledge of the types of antique clocks in the market, it can be difficult to determine the perfect clock for your house. Nevertheless, there is a possibility you will have to choose between the four most common types of antique clocks: grandfather clocks, mantel clocks, wall clocks, and cuckoo clocks. Antique clocks are great ornamental pieces to decorate your house. For instance, cuckoo clocks are unique timepieces to bring your home to life. More interesting is that they aren’t very hard to find as they are one of the most common antique clocks. In this article, we discus the most common types of antique clocks, from antique mantel clocks to wall clocks.


Antique Mantel clocks

Since the 1750s, mantle clocks have been among the most common antique clocks collectors sought after. Just like any other antique clock, an antique mantel clock should be no less than 100 years old. Not only are antique mantel clocks affordable, but also the most widespread collectable clocks. Generally, old antique mantel clocks are generally smaller than bracket clocks, although the two look similar. These ornamental pieces are made from ormolu, porcelain, and wood combinations. The wood is of great help in determining the mantel clock place of origin. Movements can last between 30 hours to 8 days around windings and are primarily made of brass or wood.

Antique Grandfather Clocks

These timepieces, also known as floor clocks, long-case clocks, and tall-case clocks, can complement the aesthetics and décor of your room. Since the 17 century, the Grandfather clocks are perfect pieces to include in your house decorative ornaments. Originally, the clocks were made of beech, mahogany, and oak. These weight-driven pendulum timepieces feature freestanding and are mostly customised with detailed ornamentation. The grandfather clocks come in large sizes. Thus, the best place to place them is the ground floor of your house. Traditionally, people placed these prized showpieces in the living room, foyer, study, or any house’s public areas. Do you have spacious foyers and entry walls? These make perfect areas to display grandfather clock. The antique grandfather clocks are the most valuable collections. The clock will have more value and historical significance if you can identify the manufacturer, determine the previous owner, or trace its origin.


Antique Cuckoo Clocks

These aesthetically pleasing timepieces feature decorative creatures and figurines. The old cuckoo clocks, especially the Black Forest, are worth mint. There are reasons collectors actively seek out the Black Forest antique cuckoo clock. Usually, the outer wood case is dark wood customised with forest and folk scenes. Then there is the cuckoo and its features. The cuckoo clocks were favourite mementoes of Austria, Germany, and Switzerland travellers. Today, antique cuckoo clocks are the most popular ornamental clocks. Not only is the cuckoo clock decorative, but also functional. The clock features bellows and pipe mounted on the side. Opposite the bellow vents, the slots cut through the wood frame. This allows you to hear the sound of the clock when the tiny cuckoo emerges to announce the hour. These decorative clocks add a traditional appearance to your living room.


Antique Wall Clocks

As the name suggests, the antique wall clocks are mostly designed to be mounted on the wall. These authentic timepieces come in different styles, designs, and sizes. There are wooden antique wall clocks. The wooden clocks are durable because they are made of polished hardwood of high quality. The other types of wall clocks are made of metal. However, some are made of a combination of metal and hardwood, while others are designed entirely out of metal. The well-age clocks come with unique designs and look good on your living room walls. Wall clocks can make a unique decorative addition to your house.

The Influence of the British on Clockmaking

For centuries, communities have used various methods to measure time, including using sundials to track the sun’s movement and use of hourglasses, candle clocks, and water clocks. The European countries are credited with advancing clockmaking designs. For instance, European countries like Great Britain, Germany, and France contributed immensely to the making of antique clocks. The most critical people in clockmaking history were from Europe; Peter Henlein, Franz Anton Ketterer, Christiaan Huygens to Thomas Tompion. Some Brits like George Graham, Thomas Tompion, and John Harrison expert clockmakers lived to witness the use of their inventions worldwide.

According to the timeline for the evolution of clockmaking, the Europeans invented the first mechanical clocks around the beginning of the 14th century. Those antique clocks were used in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries until the invention of pendulum clocks in the 17th century. The British and other nations in Europe designed most of the components used to create modern-day timepieces.

The Golden Age

The 17th and 18th centuries are often considered the British watchmaking “golden age” The 1600s produced various known and unknown watchmakers in Britain. Watchmakers like George Graham and John Harrison were highly skilled, and their watchmaking inventions are used to date. In those centuries, watchmaking evolved from Britain to the world. In the 1700s, the British add another great watchmaker to their history, Thomas Mudge.

In the 17th century, the horology revolution was as dramatic as more clock inventors emerged. That century will forever be remembered for the invention of verge escapement and pendulum that transformed the world of timekeeping beyond anything ever seen in the previous centuries.

Clock and watchmaking thrived greatly in London, where masters of horological technology resided. The fathers of timekeeping: Thomas Tompion, Edward East, George Graham, Joseph Windmills, Joseph Knibb, and Daniel Quare, were parts of the great minds that introduced extraordinary timepieces inventions in London, British, the whole European continent, and the world at large. By the end of the 17th century, the clock inventions had flourished such that clocks were running for more extended periods without regular adjustment and winding.

In the 1600s, technology was advancing, although at a slow rate. The British watchmakers embraced the infant industrial revolution and used technological and scientific advancements to their advantage. To this day, the British are known for having some of the most incredible minds in the watchmaking industry.

The George Graham Era

The revolutionary advances felt during the Georgian era greatly influenced the world of clock making worldwide. During the Georgian period, many clockmakers invented a series of timepieces that offered creative ways to coordinate, measure and calculate space and time.

In the 18th century, the British didn’t slow down but instead came up with more timekeeping inventions. During this century, George Graham was amongst the watchmaking masters competing with famous horologists like Thomas Tompion, his mentor. The rise of George Graham was felt by people all over the world. Graham craft some changes to the clock anchor escapement in 1715. The recoil escapement, also known as the Hooke escapement, was invented in 1657 by Robert Hooke but had several recoil issues. Graham slightly altered the Hooke invention to rectify the ever-recurring recoil issues that the anchor suffered.

Over the following years, Graham started inventing his designs and devices. Graham developed the mercury pendulum in 1721. Before the Graham pendulum, the pendulums would expand during summers and contract during winters. The mercury pendulum helped to counterbalance these effects. These Graham timekeeping modifications and other great inventions made history in the clockmaking industry and would go unmatched in accuracy for about 200 years.

The History of the Pocket Compass

Before discovering the compass, navigators looked at the position of the celestial bodies (the sun and north star) to determine the direction of the sea.  In some places, the navigators would use sounding to supplement the navigation.  Every country had its means of navigation.  For instance, the Arabs relied on the foreseeable monsoons and the clear skies to navigate the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf.  Sometimes challenges would arise if the sea weather conditions were continually foggy or overcast and the sea was too deep to use soundings.

The Invention of Compass

In the beginning, the shapes and designs of the compasses were unsophisticated.  But later, scientists were able to illustrate and design beautiful antique compasses.  Many ancient compass designs included the compass rose.  Often, nautical charts and maps included the compass rose.  The compass rose helped to show the wind direction.  In 11th to 14th-century medieval navigation, one had to use the rose compass to navigate smoothly.  According to medieval cartography and ancient Greek meteorological studies, the compass roses were a work of art.  The compass roses featured religious symbols, symbols for different types of wind and were decorated in various colors.


The Chinese developed the first compass more than 2000 years ago.  The Chinese used Lodestone to craft the first compass.  The Lodestone is known for attracting ions.  In those days, Lodestone was a significant magnetised mineral that taught people the importance of magnets.  The scientists created the first compass in 20BC-20AD, China’s Han Dynasty.  ”South Pointing fish” was the name given to the first Chinese compass.  Although, according to historians, the Chinese used the “south-pointing fish” compass for traditional artistic rituals such as feng shui, fortune-telling, and geomancy.  Later, during the Chinese Song Dynasty, the “south-pointing fish” compass was introduced in the shipping sector.

The compass was introduced in Europe in 1157-1217 AD by Alexander Neckam, an English theologian.  According to many historians’ beliefs, the compass was introduced in the west by the Chinese as a gift as there are not enough records to support Neckham’s inventing the compass in Europe.  Nevertheless, the navigators started using the compasses extensively in the 13th century.


In 1232, sailors used the antique nautical compasses of the Ottoman empire to navigate the Persian Gulf successfully.  The design of the Ottoman compasses was similar to the Chinese models, which made the historian conclude that the Chinese exposed the compasses of the Ottomans via the Silk trade route.  Historians have also recorded the uses of ship compasses by Africans and Indians in the 11th to 14th centuries.

The development of the Antique Pocket Compass

As the navigators began to embrace compasses widely, more sophisticated compasses emerged.  The Dry form of compasses was the first invention.  Later in the 17th century, wet compasses were invented.  However, wet compasses were officially legalized in the 19th century.  Initially, the wet compasses were heavy so that navigators would attach them to the ships.

In the 18th century bearing compasses were introduced.  With bearing compasses, navigators would take bearings by aligning lubber lines with the compass.  The bearing compasses included compass roses.  This design shaped the designs of today’s compasses, north, east, south, and west.  A hand compass that featured a lens and viewing prism was introduced in 1885.  In 1902, the Bezard compass was granted an official patent.  The Bezard compass featured a mounted mirror.  The mirror allowed navigators to align the object with the compass while checking the bearing.


In the course of world war I and World War II, compasses were part of the military items.  During these military operations, people adapted to the wet compasses.  Even though the compasses were portable, they were a bit heavy.

The Duc D’Orléans Breguet Sympathique Clock

On December 4th, 2012, the Duc d’Orléans Breguet clock broke records in the world of collectible auctions. It sold for a whopping $6.8 million. The sales of this work highlighted the sales of the 2012 New York Sotheby’s Important watches & Clocks auction. The piece dates back to 1835 is beautiful and technically ingenious, combining a clock and a pocket watch with an intricate mechanism. To date, this is the only Breguet Sympathique clock known to have a built-in candle mount that can be used to wind, set time, and regulate the watch.


Even though the development of this watch wasn’t challenging enough, you also have to think about the ongoing maintenance. A little TLC was required when Seth G. Atwood purchased the Duc D’Orléans for his Time Museum in 1974. Dr. George Daniels was the only one who could fix it. He was the world’s foremost authority on Breguet’s work and the only person in whom Atwood put his trust when it came to re-creating the watch’s self-winding mechanism.

Each of Breguet’s 12 Sympathique clocks is believed to have been custom-made to suit its owner. Royal families worldwide, including those in Russia and Spain and King George IV of England and Napoleon I, could only afford to buy one of these watches because of the astronomical price the master watchmaker set.


Abraham-Louis Breguet invented the Sympathique while exiled during the French Revolution in Switzerland. He designed the antique clocks primarily to showcase his craftsmanship and enhance a reputation for being the most creative horologist of his era. The construction of the Sympathiques could take years because of their complexity. Abraham-Louis Breguet died ten years after the Duc de Orléans’s clock was made, but it is part of 12 clocks that began in 1794. A piece’s 1836 sale reaffirmed that Breguet designed it depending on the time it took him to finish it.


The Duc D’Orléans Breguet Sympathique Features

Duc D’Orleans Breguet known as the sympathique clock, Breguet created the clock in 1795 and first displayed to the public at the Exposition Nationale des Produits de l’Industrie in 1798. The clock had a cradle to keep the watch in perfect order for automatic winding and adjustment. Breguet used the term sympathique to express the idea of harmonious relationship and concord in his designs.


Just looking at the stunning 1835 clock with a docking pocket watch, you could tell you are looking at something expensive and classic. The Duc d’Orléans case features impressive ormolu-mounted red tortoise shell decoration. The amount of gold sculpture glittering on this clock is astonishing. The clock stands about two feet tall. The little watch perched on top of the clock makes the watch more remarkable.


One of Abraham-Louis Breguet’s biggest successes was tackling the issue of watch winding. Breguet invented the Sympathique system while he was in exile. You can find three small holes at the bottom of the watch. With these holes, you can use the gold-plated cradle on top of the parent clock to spin, regulate, and set up a watch.

Each morning at 3 am, small pins rise from the clock and into the watch to perform these essential functions.

The Difference Between a Bracket Clock and a Mantel Clock

A bracket clock and a mantel clock can be easy to confuse. However, these clocks are not the same. Mantel clock design can stand on the fireplace or mantel shelf, while the bracket clock can mount on the bracket fixed on the wall, just like its name suggests. Before the invention of bracket clocks, people used longcase clocks and lantern clocks to keep time. The major drawback of these antique inventions is that you can drive them by weight and fix the clock in a given position to avoid falling the weight. Then came the bracket clocks that were spring-driven pendulum clocks. Due to the use of springs, the clocks were more portable. Most mantel and brackets owners keep them in the living room to add style to their interior design.


What is Mantel Clock

A mantel clock, also known as a shelf clock, is a small home clock usually placed above a fireplace or on a shelf, while a bracket clock is a portable antique clock invented in the 17th or 18th century. The antique mantel clocks were operated using wind. It is possible to identify mechanical mantel clocks from their dials by looking for one, two, or three holes where a key enters to wind it. These clocks make fascinating ornaments as well as excellent timepieces.

Backs in the day, mantel clocks were trendy because they were less costly to produce. The clock name ”mantel clock” was derived from the clock size. In other words, the clock came in a smaller size that you could place on a mantelpiece. However, nowadays, if you have an antique mantel clock or would like to buy one, you don’t have to place it on a mantel piece anywhere around your house.

What is a Bracket Clock

The bracket clocks were invented in the 1660s and featured a decorative bracket that helped mount the clock on the wall. Without the bracket, people called them the table clocks. Historians believe the bracket clock design originated from ” true bracket clocks”, small clocks driven by pendulum weight. A bracket was put on the wall where the clock was mounted, giving the weights a hanging space. The bracket clock features two matching pieces for coordination purposes. The coordination gives the bracket clock a stylish appearance.

The Differences Between a Bracket Clock and a Mantel Clock

Often, clockmakers made the antique bracket clocks out of ebony wood. The clock features ornaments like ormolu mounts, brass inlay, wood shell, and tortoise, among other decorative features that give the ornamental appeal. In the old days, clocks were priceless, and only a few wealthy community households could afford them. Thus, the bracket clocks came with handles that allowed people to carry the clocks along.

People used to refer to bracket clocks as the “silent pull repeaters”. Reasoning, when the bracket clocks were placed in the bedroom, the hourly bell sounds would disturb the people sleeping. The people used a knob to silence the clock.

The mantel clock has no handle. Thus, it isn’t portable. A mantel clock features detailed legs, a flat base, or a stand to help place it above the fireplace or on the shelf. In comparison to antique clocks, mantel clocks are smaller in size.

The main difference between the clocks;  mantel clocks were invented in the 18th century,  while bracket clock was invented in the 17th and 18th centuries. In other words, the bracket clocks were invented earlier than the bracket clocks.

Should You Insure Your Antiques?

Do you own a collection of antique clocks, barometers, a pocket compass, and scientific equipment?  Insuring antiques is a logical thing to do.  Insurance covers your antique collection from theft, damage, fire, loss, among other risks.  Insurance provides you with peacefulness and prevents monetary loss should you be required to replace your antique collection.


You may have inherited your grandparent’s antique grandfather clock or antique barometer; you will need to insure such a priceless item.  Nowadays, most homeowners’ insurance coverages exclude antique coverage.  You need to apply for another insurance cover.  In the case of antique collections, some insurance policies may offer separate coverage for each piece.  You need to make sure your valuable antiques are fully covered.

Guide to Insuring Antiques

Imagine losing an antique cuckoo clock that took years to acquire. Not only will you be hurt emotionally, but financially too.  This is why you should insure your valuable antique collection.  Sometimes deciding how to insure your antiques or which insurance policy to go for can be a bit hard.  Below are some tips and tricks to insuring your antiques:

Find a valuation expert

While insuring cars and homes sounds obvious and reasonably straightforward, you will need to look for a valuation expert when it comes to antiques.  There are many valuers out there for vintage collections.  Also, it is straightforward to find valuers for your coins, stamps, and clocks collections, but it can be less straightforward when it comes to the oldest antiques.  If you are a collector, ask your fellow collectors of any good appraiser they know and how much it might cost.  You can also search or ask around for a reliable appraiser in your area.  Getting the value of your antiques by an expert appraiser will keep you informed on how much insurance coverage you will need.  In addition, a formal appraisal will help to back up your insurance claim in case of an insurable loss.

Document your antiques

Now that your antiques are valued, you can write all the necessary details about each antique and document them.  You are more likely to win an insurance claim with proper documentation.  During the documentation, you should gather and organise the receipts, appraisal information, pictures, among other necessary details.  You should also record the antique date of purchase.  Make multiple copies of all this information and keep them in a secure location so that in case of natural disasters, theft, or fire, the documentation is safe.

Find an Insurer

Once you have completed the above procedures, you are now ready to look for an insurer.  First, you can visit your current insurer and find out if they have the right insurance policy for your antiques.  in most cases, homeowner insurance cover insures only your personal property while excluding your collectibles and antiques.  Your insurance agent will provide you will all the information on the insurance plans on offer.  Pick the insurance policy that meets your needs.  An expert insurance agent will guide you through the policies and help you pick the right policy.  Nevertheless, you should make sure you understand the ideal insurance policy and its limitations before selecting it.

Remember to add new pieces and revisit your insurance policy annually

You should remember to notify your insurer of a new antique you have acquired so that they can include it in your insurance policy.  Most antique insurance policies extend coverage to new antiques for a specified period (a few weeks or months).  The value of antiques keeps changing.  Thus, you should visit your insurer annually to ensure you are not under or over-insured.  You might have downsized or added your antique collection; visit your insurer to make the necessary changes.

How Does a Barograph Barometer Work?

Over centuries, the barometer has been one of the most essential weather instruments scientists and meteorologists use in weather forecasting. It is a device for measuring atmospheric pressure to help predict if the weather is going to be sunny, windy, or rainy. Barometers can also measure altitude.

There are two main types of barometers. First is the mercury barometer, which Italian physicist Evangelista Torricelli developed in the 1640s. The mercury barometer is designed with a tube or cistern of mercury. The level of mercury in the tube shows changes in atmospheric pressure. For example, if the mercury level rises, it means that the weather is going to be fair or clear. When the mercury level drops, it could mean windy or stormy weather is approaching.

The second type of barometer is the aneroid barometer. Invented by the French Scientist Lucien Vidi, the aneroid barometer uses an aneroid cell instead of mercury in measuring changes in air pressure. The aneroid cell is encapsulated in a chamber, and it expands or contracts when it detects changes in atmospheric pressure. Aneroid barometers are more widely used, especially in sea and air travel, because they are smaller and more portable than mercury barometers.

An antique barograph barometer is a type of aneroid barometer. In this article, we’ll explain how a barograph barometer works.

How Do Barograph Barometers Work?

A barograph barometer is a weather instrument that continuously measures and records changes in air pressure over time in a paper graph or chart. Typically, a barograph can measure variations in atmospheric pressure for a week but there are some models that can be set to measure pressure changes over longer or shorter periods. For someone whose job is to monitor and document changes in barometric pressure, a barograph barometer is a convenient tool, as one doesn’t have to record pressure changes manually at regular intervals.

Besides weather services, barograph barometers are useful in the maritime or nautical industries, helping sailors make crucial decisions, especially when they encounter poor weather. Because barograph barometers can also measure changes in altitude, they are also used in activities involving gliders or sailplanes.

Parts of a Barograph Barometer

Below are the basic components of a barograph barometer and their corresponding function:

  • Aneroid cell

The aneroid cell is a cylindrical, bellow-shaped chamber with at least four diaphragms. It expands or contracts when it detects changes in air pressure. When air pressure increases, the aneroid cell contracts. In such cases, incoming weather is typically fair or colder. Meanwhile, if the aneroid cell expands, it means that air pressure decreases, which could mean imminent storm, rain, or wind.

  • Levers or Pen-Arm Linkage

The levers connect the aneroid cell to the stylus or pen. They would go up or down as the aneroid cell expands or contracts.

  • Stylus or Recording Pen

As the stylus moves, it traces a line on the chart, which shows pressure change versus time.

  • Rotating Drum

The rotating drum turns by a clockwork mechanism. Most barograph barometers record atmospheric pressure changes in a cycle of seven days, but some models can record changes daily or within a month.

  • Barogram or Chart Paper

The barogram shows the visual recording (in millibars) of any change in barometric pressure. The chart paper is removable, so it could be replaced with a new one for recording pressure changes for the next cycle.

  • Glass Case

A barograph barometer is typically enclosed in a glass case with a metal frame to protect its parts and for portability.


Looking for a Barograph Barometer for Your Antique Collection?

At Dutch Antiques, we have antique barometers for sale. Our collection includes antique barograph barometers, antique pocket barometers for sale, stick barometers, and more. We also sell antique clocks, antique pocket watches, and antique medical instruments from all over the world.

Visit our showroom or browse our website for more information about the antique pieces we have for sale.

Daylight Saving Time

The Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of advancing clocks during the summer months with the goal of saving energy and taking advantage of the waking hours.

History of the Daylight Saving Time (DST)

While former US President Benjamin Franklin floated the idea of resetting clocks to conserve energy, many contend that the concept of DST came from him. In fact, it wasn’t until 1918 when the United States started adopting the DST.

Then Whose Idea was the DST?

In a paper they presented to the Wellington Philosophical Society in 1895, scientist George Vernon Hudson from New Zealand and British builder William Willet proposed adjusting clocks forward by two hours in October, then shifting them back two hours in March. While the idea gained interest, it wasn’t adopted.

In 1905, Willett then proposed to set clocks in advance by 20 minutes on the Sundays in April, then switch them back to the standard time on the Sundays in September. This idea caught the interest of British Parliament member Robert Pearce, leading to the draft of the Daylight Saving Bill in 1909. The bill was presented to the Parliament several times, but many opposed the idea, especially farmers. Eventually, the United Kingdom began practising DST in 1916. Unfortunately, Willett died the year prior.

Port Arthur (known today as Thunder Bay), a small town in Ontario, also started using DST seven years before Willet died, but it isn’t known if Willett was aware of it. Other Canadian areas, including Winnipeg, Regina in Saskatchewan, and Brandon in Manitoba, also adopted the DST in 1916.

DST During the World War I

Two years into the first World War, European countries, specifically Germany and its ally, Austria, set their clocks ahead by one hour in April 1916. The main purpose of this move was to save fuel by minimising the use of artificial light as they prepare for war. Countries like France and the United Kingdom followed suit. These countries then reverted to the standard time when the World War I ended.

DST in Current Times

Today, over 70 countries are implementing DST. However, the start and end dates vary based on the country’s location. In countries in the Northern Hemisphere, like the USA and Canada, clocks are adjusted one hour ahead either in March or April and then set back to the standard time when September or October comes. Meanwhile, in Southern Hemisphere countries like Australia and southern Africa, DST begins sometime between September and November and ends in March or April.

How Weights Keep Antique Clocks Running

Weight-driven clocks, as the name suggests, are mechanical clocks powered by falling weights that hang on a chain or cable. With the aid of gravity, the weights are pulled down slowly, typically in a period of 7 days. After which, the weights go back up. The chain or cable holding the weight needs to be manually pulled up or wound using a crank to start another cycle.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how weights keep antique clocks running.

History of the Weight-Driven Clock

Weight-driven clocks are said to have been produced as early as the 13th century. Typically installed in churches, cathedrals, and monasteries, weight-driven clocks, known today as turret clocks, had heavy weights to power their movement. These clocks did not have a dial or hands and only struck the hours. Weight-driven mechanical clocks guided monks in keeping track of the hours for prayers on a daily basis. Monks also used weight-driven clocks to predict the occurrence of eclipses and determine dates of feast.

In the 14th century, smaller clocks were made for domestic use. Through the 15th century, weight-driven clocks were installed in castles and other non-religious places like court houses. Spring-driven clocks were also developed in the 15th century and these clocks were also made with an hour hand.

The middle of the 17th century marked a significant landmark in watchmaking when Dutch astronomer, physicist, and inventor Christiaan Huygens, added the pendulum in the design of weight-driven clocks. The addition of the pendulum increased the accuracy of clocks.


How Do Weights Keep Antique Clocks Running?

Simply put, the weights of the clock are like its engine. It stores potential energy that powers the clock’s movements when the chains holding the weights are pulled down.

Weights are often cylindrical or rectangular in shape with a polished metal alloy casing, like brass. Some weights are embossed or have a decorative shape, like pinecones. The filler in the casing is of a heavy material, like lead and cast iron.

The number of weights in a mechanical antique clock depends on the type of clock. For example, antique grandfather clocks typically have 3 weights, each of which performs a unique function. The left weight powers the hours strike, the centre weight provides power to the pendulum that regulates time, and the right weight powers the chime melody. The weights usually come with the label at the bottom for easy assembly.

As the weights drop, they produce kinetic energy that drives the clock’s gear train to move. Typically, it takes 7 days for the weights to go down and then they have to be raised to their original position using a crank. Otherwise, the clock will stop running.

In the case of weight-driven pendulum clocks, the swinging of the pendulum regulates how fast the weights drop. The length of the pendulum also affects the accuracy of the clock. If the clock runs fast, it means that the length of the pendulum, whether it’s a string, rod, or wire, should be increased.  This slows down the swing of the pendulum. On the other hand, shortening the pendulum will make its swing rate faster.

French Antique Clockmakers

The invention of the pendulum clock by Dutch horologist and physicist Christiaan Huygens was a significant moment in the history of clockmaking. With this technology, not only was there an increase in the accuracy of a clock’s mechanism, but also, less friction and wear-and-tear on the clock’s moving parts because of the narrow swing of the pendulum.

Soon after, many European clockmakers adopted Huygens’ design. However, that is not the case for French clockmakers. The 17th century was a period was marked with opulence and grandeur, especially during the reigns of King Louis XIV and King Louis XV. French clockmakers produced highly ornamented clocks, focusing on artistry rather than the accuracy of timepieces. These brilliant experts were the founders of the many beautiful antique clocks that we have for sale.

Styles of French Antique Clocks

The most popular styles in French clockmaking are the boulle, ormolu, and religieuse.


Boulle timepieces were named after André-Charles Boulle, one of France’s most talented furniture designers during his time. His technique, commonly referred to as Boulle or Boulle Marquetry, in furniture making and decoration features the combination of metals such as brass and pewter with tortoiseshell and ivory. These materials were cut and arranged in elaborate patterns then glued onto wood, typically oak. Boulle is not only famous for using this technique in designing cabinets, but also in making clock cases, writing tables, and armoires.


Ormolu, also referred to as gilt bronze or bronze dorée in French, is a technique of applying gold to bronze objects. Ormolu furniture were commonly used during the Baroque period by aristocrats to decorate their homes.


This style of French clocks features brass and pewter overlays that are set in wooden cases, typically of ebony and oak. There were also antique religieuse clocks that combine the Boulle and ormolu techniques, being that they were made with tortoiseshell case and ormolu stands.

Famous French Antique Clockmakers

Besides Andre-Charles Boulle, below are some of the famous French clockmakers from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Julien Le Roy (1786 – 1759)

Julien Le Roy is one of the most skilled French clockmakers during his era. He produced timepieces for many of Europe’s royal families, including Louis XV. According to historians, he supervised the production of over 3,000 timepieces during his lifetime.

Antoine Thiout the elder (1692 – 1767)

Antoine Thiout wrote the Traité d’Horlogerie, which is one of the most widely read treatises on clockmaking during his time and until today. He also designed a fusee cutting machine and versions of the marine clock and equation of time clock. 

Pierre Le Roy (1717 – 1785)

Pierre Le Roy is one of the sons of the famous French horologist Julien Le Roy. He designed a version of a sea clock or marine chronometer which had a detent escapement, isochronous balance spring, and a balance that compensated for changes in temperature. For these innovations in marine clocks, he was awarded with a Meslay prize by the French Academy of Sciences.

Ferdinand Berthoud (1727 – 1807)

Berthoud developed marine chronometers based on the works of John Harrison and Pierre Le Roy. Like Le Roy, the chronometers he designed underwent sea trials, though did not best Le Roy’s works. However, he said that over 50 of his marine clocks were used in about 80 test voyages. One of Berthoud’s weight-driven marine clocks inspired the works of William Bond, a renowned American clockmaker from Boston.


Abraham-Louis Brequet (1747 – 1823)

Although Brequet was born in Switzerland, he made his mark as one of the principal French horologists of the 18th century. His most notable invention was the tourbillon, which made timepieces less prone to errors whilst being carried. Brequet also developed an improved version of the balance spring, called the overcoil.