Ten Things About Clock Care

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Always maintain adequate insurance on your clock. Photograph your clock and write a detailed description of it. Keep a copy of the photo, description, purchase records, and any other pertinent information in a safe place in case of fire, flood, burglary, etc. This will make it much easier to file an insurance claim.

that will increase the clock’s value.

Have your clock appraised by several reputable dealers and average their values to arrive at a price.

Clocks can be sold through antique shows, antique shops, traditional and online auctions, clock conventions, collector periodicals, and newspaper advertisements. If you aren’t selling in person, be sure to provide color photos that include multiple angles and close-ups of unique features. Also provide a detailed written description of the clock’s features and flaws. Be sure to mention what you would consider minor or insignificant flaws. Potential buyers have a right to full disclosure.

As a courtesy (and an extra selling point), include repair history, if known, as well as instructions for operating and cleaning your clock.

antique clocks


Clean your clock every three to five years. For best results, have it cleaned professionally, but if you do it yourself, first remove the hands, dial, and works. Immerse the works in naptha or kerosene for about thirty minutes, then wipe with a soft cloth and dry with a hair dryer. Clean unpainted glass with glass cleaner to remove all streaks and fingerprints, and dust the case with a soft cloth. Oil the pivots with clock oil, which can be purchased at hobby shops. Apply small drops of oil using the tip of a long needle, then reassemble the clock.


Before moving a weight-driven or pendulum clock, remove the weight or pendulum to prevent damage.

Move a large clock carefully. Carry it by supporting its weight from underneath. Do not lift it by the top or by other fragile parts. Also, keep the clock as vertical as possible, as strain, twisting, or uneven weight distribution may cause cracking or other damage.


Carefully select your clock’s location. Keep it away from drafts, basements, outside walls, and heating and ventilating ducts because humidity and temperature extremes can warp wood and affect a clock’s accuracy. Also avoid placing a clock in direct sunlight, which may cause the finish to fade or crack. Be sure your clock is firmly anchored. If placed on a wall, ensure that the support is heavy enough and is attached to a wall stud or a wall anchor.

To keep the clock as accurate as possible, be sure the clock is level front to back and side to side.


Leave all major clock repairs to a professional, but if you choose to work on your clock’s movement, first remove weights or pendulum, and disengage springs.


Dedicated clock collectors usually keep their clocks running, if possible. The springs and other moving parts will not wear out. If fact, keeping the moving parts running helps preserve them and maintains the clock’s accuracy.


Because of a series of protective devices called Geneva Stops, you can’t overwind your clock. Establish a regular shedule to wind your clock. Use your normal routine as a reminder. For example, you might want to wind your clock at the beginning of a weekly TV show.


If your clock runs too fast or slow, you can adjust its timing up to five minutes a week by raising or lowering the pendulum bob or adjusting its weights. Weight-driven clocks are generally more accurate than spring-driven models, so they may not require as much adjustment.

The phrase “Lower, slower, higher, sprier” provides a good way to remember how to adjust a pendulum clock. Raising the bob on the pendulum rod shortens the swing so the clock goes faster. Lowering the bob makes the arc longer, which slows the clock.


Beginning clock collectors can join the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) at 514 Poplar Street, Columbia, PA 17512. Fellow members and club activities can be of great help.


Well-made and maintained antique clocks are valuable and in constant demand. If you prepare your clock for sale properly and ask a fair price, you should have little difficulty selling it. To receive the highest price within your clock’s market value, follow the guidelines below:

Make sure your clock looks its best by having it cleaned (see instructions in the Clock Care section above).

Preserve any labels found on a clock case, as they may give horological and historical information.