What is Antique Clock Restoration?

Soo Owens

Antique clock restoration is a service offered by professional horologists, though hobbyists also exist. The restoration process involves repairing the clock or watch mechanically as well as cosmetically. Restoration requires a great deal of patience, time, and attention, as well as an in- depth knowledge of the type of clock being restored.

Traditional clocks and watches use a system of gears and pulleys to keep time.
Traditional clocks and watches use a system of gears and pulleys to keep time.

Generally speaking, there are three different types of antique clocks that an horologist deals with. A wall clock is any clock that hangs and has a mounted base, including cuckoo clocks. Tall clocks have a base that rests on the floor, the most common of which is the grandfather clock. Mantel clocks sit on shelves of various types and are, perhaps, the most common. Antique clock restoration services often extend their coverage to antique watches and pocket-watches in addition to other types of clocks.

Horologists may restore antique clocks and watches.
Horologists may restore antique clocks and watches.

Most antique clocks are intricate and complex devices, so antique clock restoration may take some time to complete, depending on the clock and the particular problem. The first step in the restoration is to either familiarize oneself with the clock in need of repair or to find an horologist. Professional horologists are rare, but those who are available have usually familiarized themselves with a vast array of antique clocks.

An horologist will be able to determine the cause of the problem or the necessary refurbishing needs. After the horologist receives the clock, disassembly is required. During this phase, the entire clock is taken apart and more thoroughly examined, allowing the repairman to acquire in-depth familiarity with the clock.

Following disassembly, each piece of the clock is cleaned. It is often the case in antique clock restoration that a considerable degree of build-up has accumulated on the clock since its assembly, as most owners are not equipped to take these clocks apart and properly clean them. The parts that are deemed usable during the inspection are then cleaned or refurbished, while any parts that are not usable will be replaced, either by acquiring the part elsewhere or by having it custom manufactured.

The next step in the antique clock restoration process is the repair of the clock itself. The horologist makes the necessary changes to the inner machinery and engineering. Depending on how complicated the problem is, this stage can last for an extended period of time. An horologist must take his or her time when completing the repair phase.

To ensure that the repair was successful and that the clock will perform under normal conditions, it is thoroughly tested. A test will usually last for a few days, during which the horologist will check on each of the antique clocks he or she is repairing. After the test phase has been completed, the clock is put back together and returned to its owner.

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