View Full Version : Oriental Clocks

Steven Thornberry
01-06-2010, 08:01 AM
The December 2009 Bulletin carried an excellent article by Charles Davis on Japanese clock logos. It certainly will become a good research source for members of this board. The december issue of the Mart carried an equally excellent article on the Pony express System Clocks, writtem by Les Lesovsky (Eckmill). In light of these two articles, I thought it might be appropriate to start a thread on Oriental clocks, so we can catalogue some of what we have out there and possibly learn a bit more about them. I list the thread as Oriental, although possibly most of what we see are Japanese. I would not exclude later clocks with 31-day movemnts from Korea or elsewhere. I own one japanese clock, a Seikosha. While my camera is firing up to take some pictures, I wonder whether anyone out there would like to start the photo session by posting pictures of their.

I eventually intend to post a link to this thread in the "List Your (Maker's Name) Clock sticky at the top of this forum.

Steven Thornberry
01-06-2010, 09:05 AM
The Seikosha, a steeple clock. Cut off the top of the middle finial (in the picture, that is); it does not match but is complementary in style to the two on the side. There is a very blackened label that indicates the registered trademark of Seikosha, that it is made by Seikosha, and that it received a gold medal at the Exposition de Hanoi. Apparently it was awarded by the French Government, but it also mentions the Gouvernement General de L'Indo-chine. Not sure of the date, maybe ca. 1900 (a cop out, I know); I guess I could research the Exposition de Hanoi for an earliest possible date.

Common bullseye pendulum and American style movement. I like the original glass, which has survived very well. I also like the pyramidal lozenge pattern on either side of the door. It cleaned up nicely with just orange oil when I bought it off eBay a few years back.

Bruce Barnes
01-06-2010, 11:01 AM
Hi Steve,
I own three Japanese clocks and they are both well constructed and excellent time keepers.
One is a Meiji octagon school house withe the ebonized surround and one is a Seikosha,T,S,and Calendar,and hte other a Japanese copy of a german case with an old Coca Cola dial.
The japanese collecting segment as I have said before is vastly overlooked and under priced.

01-06-2010, 05:31 PM
Tokyo Seikosha? keeps great time.

Steven Thornberry
01-06-2010, 05:44 PM
Swankyman: If that is an A.K. inside the star, it would be Eikeisha, rather than Seikosha (per Charles Davis' article). It is a bit unclear to my eyes.

Bruce Barnes
01-08-2010, 06:09 PM
Swankyman,it appears as though you,Steven and I are the only ones who own Japanese Clocks by the lack of postings.Hope some others do as I am always trying to learn.

Kevin W.
01-08-2010, 06:30 PM
I have 2 Japanese clocks and will be posting soon, i posted one long ago maybe the pictures are still on this web site.
here is one of them, i found the pictures posted about 2 years ago.
-> posts merged by system <-
Here is my Majestic 31 day made in Japan clock.
Sorry i only have one picture at the moment.

01-08-2010, 07:52 PM
I would have thought there would have been a lot of Japan clocks for this thread.
They are nice runners and cheap enough??
Steven here is a pic of the marking, On an old thread that must have been lost in here somewhere was were i got the info from. It does have the AK marking. Mark
-> posts merged by system <-
Not sure were my photo went:confused:

02-13-2010, 11:39 PM
I have 2 of these Seikosha clocks and they run great. Here is one of them ..not sure of age?

Spaceman Spiff
02-15-2010, 11:50 PM
Here are some of my Oriental/Asian clocks.

The first one (http://www.flickr.com/photos/spacemanspiff27/sets/72157621816130026/) is an Araf, which appears to have been made for the (east) Indian market. A label inside the pendulum area shows it was retailed by a dealer in Calcutta. I wish it wasn't covered by that horrible black paint.

The second one (http://www.flickr.com/photos/spacemanspiff27/sets/72157621955929158/) is an Eikeisha "figure 8" or "four circle" clock with a Seikosha dial. I'd like to eventually see about getting a correct dial for this clock. (Mark, if you follow the link you'll see this one has the same "AK" on the movement as is on your clock).

The third one (http://www.flickr.com/photos/spacemanspiff27/sets/72157621899144095/) is an S. Mizu.

The fourth one (http://www.flickr.com/photos/spacemanspiff27/sets/72157622033397544/) is a Seiko Sonola Time-Dater battery-operated (transistor) clock with mechanical strike and Arabic calendar. I had passed this clock many times over a period of several months in an antique store without giving it a second thought, thinking it was some kind of crappy quartz clock or something. After examining it more closely one day, I decided to buy it, and after getting it home was totally shocked to hear the mechanical strike! I didn't even know it would strike at all, much less with it being a real strike and not some kind of electronic tone. Now I really love the clock. :rolleyes:

Interesting thread!

Steven Thornberry
02-16-2010, 04:56 AM
John: The Eikeisha figure 8 strikes my fancy. It shows some Ingraham influence in its heritage; I'm thinking of the Iota.

Spaceman Spiff
02-16-2010, 11:01 AM
John: The Eikeisha figure 8 strikes my fancy. It shows some Ingraham influence in its heritage; I'm thinking of the Iota.

Thanks, Steven.
Yes, the figure 8 clock seems to strike a chord with many people. I've had several non-clock-afficionado friends tell me that it's their favorite clock from my collection (and at least two of these friends have repeatedly "hinted" that I give it to them as a gift!)

02-16-2010, 02:16 PM

All nice clocks! I like 2 and 4 --great looking.

Your friends have good taste!


Kevin W.
02-16-2010, 04:04 PM
Hi John, nice clocks.I like 1 and 3.Nice looking.The figure 8 is nice too.

Spaceman Spiff
02-16-2010, 05:04 PM
Thanks, guys!

02-16-2010, 06:04 PM
My favorite is this gallery I bought at an auction back in the early 70's. The dial is original, and it has a balance wheel escapement. I have been told that these were used on Japanese fishing boats. I wonder if that is true. All had to do was clean it, oil it and refinish the wood. I think it is ash. It's not worth that much, but it was my first antique clock.

Kevin W.
02-16-2010, 06:10 PM
Nice clock Will, i like the dial. :razz:

02-16-2010, 08:44 PM
Nice clock Will. I like the wood....looks great on the wall as well.


02-17-2010, 07:12 AM
In the late 80s, a huge consignment of ex-Indian government clocks flooded the UK market. The supplier told me they were from the States, where a relative of his, acquired them, as part of a deal, whereby the Indian govt bought a load of modern clocks, and these came as "part ex". The spare bits, were wrapped in scraps of Indian newspapers, and feeble attempts were made to make them look like Ansonias et al: This one was somehow left behind in my sister's house and she photographed it for me. I must have bought about 20 or more: some were Seikoshas.

02-18-2010, 03:54 AM
"I list the thread as Oriental, although possibly most of what we see are Japanese. I would not exclude later clocks with 31-day movemnts from Korea or elsewhere. [/QUOTE]"

Hi All,
Guess where I got this "RARE,ONE OF A KIND, Antique, Vintage, Deco,Grandpa loved it, been running perfect for months, NO KEY clock!
Just kiddin. Actually the description was spot on. Waltham (china) wall clock.
I showed my wife, and she said I LOVE IT. I said "CHINA"! You see where it hangs. It was packed for nuclear winter, and the mains were let down, so I hung it and wound it. Viola!! (It was running in the photos,explaining the out of beat look). + I got it for under 40clams.

Charles E. Davis
02-18-2010, 04:40 PM
The mark on your movement was for the Meiji Clock Company of Nagoya.
It was founded in 1895 and lasted as long as any of them.

02-22-2010, 05:20 AM
Following will be a series of posts about my collection of clocks made in Asia. I have ten of them so I’ll post them in batches. None are valuable… except to me. When I travel, I look for clocks. They are souvenirs and memories of good times abroad… and they’re fun to work on.
Names: The names added to the maker are purely for my identification.

Meiji Scroll: From the Meiji Clock Co., Nagoya, Japan, I found this clock in Seoul, Korea. Korea was a colony of Japan from 1910 until 1945 and this case design is typical for Korea.

Owari Gallery: Made by the Owari Clock Co. of Nagoya, Japan, I bought this in 1992 in Jakarta, Indonesia. It’s 16” round. On the face, it says “Made in Occupied Japan” so that puts it just post WWII. I was suspicious that the case may not be original because it was lacking wear and tear. Indonesia is loaded with fakes of everything old: clocks, gramophones, surveying equipment, ships hardware, etc. Amusingly, there was a great magazine ad by the national carrier, Garuda Airlines, showing an old Confucian-looking Chinese antique dealer surrounded by antiques in his cluttered, dusty, rustic shop. The headline said, “If you can’t find the antique you’re looking for, he’ll make it for you.” But on the back is part of an export label (Grade A?) and since it’s not that old, it possibly hasn’t had time to get battered, and may be original.

-> posts merged by system <-
This is #2 post of Clarke's Asian made clocks.

Takaranokanmuri: Bought in Hong Kong in 1984, it’s one of the few I have with a label that’s in decent condition. But the movement is from Binkosha as shown by the SIB logo on the movement. The word “Binkosha” is also spelled out on the gong base. There are no extraneous mounting holes anywhere so it’s original and Takaranokanmuri (for this clock, anyway) was just an assembler/marketer.

Seikosha Tall: I got this in 1986 in Seoul, Korea. It about four and a half feet tall and has always run well, but the case was in miserable shape: a black and crusty alligator surface that was not cleanable. After many years, I bit the bullet and refinished it. There was nothing to lose as it isn’t valuable except that I like it and wanted it to look good. Wow! what a job that turned out to be! Took the case totally apart, stripped it and refinished.


Steven Thornberry
02-22-2010, 05:34 AM
A nice looking collection, Clarke.:Party:

02-22-2010, 06:56 AM
Great job on the Seikosha! Good collection!

02-22-2010, 08:58 PM
Hello & thanks for the nice comments.
Here are two more of my Japanese clocks.

Seikosha Marine: I bought this in Hong Kong in the mid 80’s. It’s the only clock I have with a platform escapement. Unfortunately, while the movement was being tested, it was knocked to the floor by my better half. The hair spring was ruined and fixing it is beyond my talents.

Seikosha Roundtop: Got this in Hong Kong in 1984. It’s clearly marked as a Seikosha, but it looks very German. It’s made very well, inside and out with heavy materials. It was either imported into Japan and subsequently branded, or the design was copied by Seikosha. It had been painted black so I stripped it to reveal some very nice wood.

One more Japanese and three Chinese will be coming.


02-22-2010, 10:18 PM
Here is an oriental clock with an original paper label. It is not much to look at, but it runs well. I have always assumed it was Japanese. I have never found anyone who could read the label for me.

02-25-2010, 06:07 AM
Here is an oriental clock with an original paper label. It is not much to look at, but it runs well. I have always assumed it was Japanese. I have never found anyone who could read the label for me.

Hello Tunerer,
I'm in China quite often. If you post a higher resolution shot of the label, I may be able to get a translation for you.

02-28-2010, 05:23 AM
Next are one Japanese and one Chinese.

Zanzibar Schoolhouse: (Unknown maker) This is my only calendar movement. As the name implies, I got it in Zanzibar in 1985. That’s right… Zanzibar! … as in “The Road to…”

I was in Kenya, wandered down to the coast to the old Arab trading port of Mombassa and found a couple of old clocks in some junk shops.
I learned that Zanzibar (an island off the east coast of Tanzania) had a lot of them so I hopped a plane.

Zanzibar was a main stop on the old Arab-African trading routes and the old heavy walled fortress-like part of town had a number of dusty and dank antique/junk shops. Most of the clocks were in horrible condition, but a few stood out as they were remotely fixable. 

The one shown is clearly a Japanese movement which exemplifies the breadth of the world trade going on at the time (as do the Junghans Vienna and an Ansonia Oak mantle alarm I got on the same visit).
There are no manufacture’s markings anywhere on it, but the importer put his name on the face and his initials on the glass. The paint on the dial is flaking off, but I dare not touch it.

B.E.C: Steamer: Bought in 1984, this one has a sweet spot in my heart because of the pendulum with the little steam boat… very “Shanghai-ish”. The case was very messy and removing the old finish revealed a lot of ugly, cheap, mis-matched wood. So with nothing to lose, I smoothed the whole thing and sprayed it black. It keeps good time and the “tick-tock” is audible three rooms away.

This is one of three Chinese made clocks that I have with the same trademark. I didn’t know what it was and asked a friend in Shanghai to look into it on Chinese websites. She found one on the history of the clock industry and there was only one company with the same far right character (昌) on the movement (Chinese is often read from right to left; or top to bottom; or both). The company is Chang Ming Clock Company(昌明钟厂) and was founded in 1935 by Ren Guochang(任国常). It was the first company in China to produce striking clocks in China.

According to my friend, as Chang昌 Ming明 both have sun(日) and moon(月) in their character structure, Chang Ming means “Bright Day” and has connotations of “prosperity”. Notice the same two characters are also embossed on the prow of the pendulum’s steamer.

The company name was subsequently changed to Shanghai Fifth Clock Company (上海第五钟厂) and then again to Shanghai Second Watch Company 上海第二手表厂) – pretty clumsy, but that’s the way the China government named state owned factories, schools, hospitals, etc.

Before learning all this, I had queried on another thread what the “B.E. Co.” could represent. Steve Thornberry suggested that it could be for Beijing Export Co. That sounded logical, but now in light of it’s Shanghai origins and “Bright Day” translation, it’s more probably “Bright Day Export Company”.

Another thought: Japan had invaded Manchuria in 1931 and kept expanding their holdings, eventually provoking full out war which resulted in Japan’s occupation of most of the east coast until the end of WWII. So this clock was probably made during Japanese occupation. Maybe the “rising sun” behind the steamer designed to appeal to the Japanese market. Or maybe not. I’ll keep poking around as that’s half the fun.


Steven Thornberry
02-28-2010, 05:53 AM
Clarke: Your collection is very impressive. A side of collecting we don't often see. :clap:

Spaceman Spiff
02-28-2010, 03:27 PM
Yes, indeed!
Very nice clocks in the last few posts!

02-28-2010, 09:42 PM
Thanks for sharing your great looking clocks. I sense that many seem to look down on these Oriental clocks but I have two that are truly nice clocks and run very reliably. They are both Seikosha and date from 1900- to 1915.

It has been a treat to see these. I smiled at the Zanzibar clock shop! All I could think of was "of all the clock shops in all of the world"...ha! You were ranging far afield from typical clock hunting grounds!


03-02-2010, 10:56 PM
My final two Asian made clocks.

BEC Mid-Gallery:
Found this on Cat Street in Hong Kong in 1993. It was an 18” inch diameter mess, the dial being unreadable. There was a big hole in a plywood board underneath the dial as some sort of fit up had been done. But the same “BEC” (see previous posts) logo and Chinese characters were on the movement.

When I first got it, I replaced the face with a S. LaRose paper dial, airbrushed it for aging and put on a transfer type BEC logo. That was a long time ago.
Looking at it now, the numerals on the stock replacement dial are very generic. I plan to make a new dial after I determine what type of fonts would be appropriate – most probably something closer to the other two BEC’s I have. (Some time ago, after finding a tutorial on the web, I made a dial for another clock with Adobe Illustrator. Really fun and it came out perfect.)

This clock, with an apparently tortured history, is definitely not my most pristine example – but it runs like a charger and is fairly accurate.

BEC Gallery:
This was my first clock. In 1984, I was rummaging through a junk shop on Cat Street in Hong Kong and found this 28” diameter clock buried under a pile of broken antique Chinese furniture parts. The glass was a completely opaque brown and I was told that it was from joss stick (incense) smoke as the clock had hung in Man Wo Temple (Hong Kong’s oldest) for years.
I knew nothing of old clocks, but was intrigued. I bought it, cleaned it, and was bitten by the bug.

This is the original face and now after years, I’ve recently learned about this trademark. With this clock, you’re never in doubt about what time it is… the bell strike is loud enough to make your head throb.

(Note to Jay re: Zanzibar)
Here’s a shot of one of a Zanzibar shop. The camera flash makes it look much more pristine that it actually was. It was dark, dank, dingy, dusty and dismal… I loved it!

So that’s it folks. This was fun for me and it forced me to get some files organized. I might put some other clocks on the appropriate threads. Thanks for your nice comments.

03-02-2010, 11:45 PM

Thanks for the shot of that shop in Zanzibar! I love the story.. I could spend a few hours and some $US in there.

Bruce Barnes
03-03-2010, 08:13 AM
What a "cool" shop,one could spend a great deal of time and also money.
I have noticed more Japanese clocks for sale on 'Bay and some very nice looking and different cases.
The Japanese clocks I have are great!!

03-05-2010, 03:53 AM
Just happened to realize that I had this one sitting on a shelf in the archives (corner of basement). Couldn't find the trademark on the dial in the Dec. bulletin. Very faded label reads that it was made by the J.O. Clock Co. Ltd. in Japan.

03-05-2010, 04:24 AM
Hi Curly,
Could you take another crack at the logo photo?
I can't read it.

Charles E. Davis
03-05-2010, 01:34 PM
Meiji Clock Company, Nogoya. Look at C04 logos.
One of the major clock companies.
There is a JO label but it is for another company, J. Osawa and is J04.
More info at


03-05-2010, 08:27 PM
Charles, Thanks for the link.


03-10-2010, 04:14 AM
Hi Steve,
This probably isn't the place to ask this, but: Could you start a thread to list Hamburg American clocks and put in you "List Your (Maker's Name) Clock" sticky at the top of this forum?

Kevin W.
08-22-2010, 05:20 PM
I just bought this today.It was made by Nippon, not sure but a guess early or mid 1930,s.Dial looks great.I dont believe the white paint is original i may remove the paint.
Price was right at 40 dollars.it runs well but should be serviced.

Jay Fortner
09-20-2011, 07:50 PM
I've got this Seiko Sonola I need to repair and I'm looking for parts.
Mainly sus. spring but the right impulse coil and battery box would be a plus. I didn't know the Japanese had a 39 day month.

harold bain
09-20-2011, 07:58 PM
Jay, the Koreans also have a 39 day month:D.
Unless someone has a parts clock to help you, I think your best bet is to rebuild the suspension spring, with some new suspension steel between the blocks. Whats wrong with the battery box? Corroded?

Jay Fortner
09-20-2011, 08:08 PM
Jay, the Koreans also have a 39 day month:D.
Unless someone has a parts clock to help you, I think your best bet is to rebuild the suspension spring, with some new suspension steel between the blocks. Whats wrong with the battery box? Corroded?
Uhn uh, part of it gone,the lower right corner along with the righthand battery contact spring. I may be able the devise a way to fix that. Yeah I'll rebuild that spring,unless someone jumps in here with one RTG,PDQ.

The Treasured Clock
09-20-2011, 09:00 PM
Hi Guys,
I was given a clock which had a Majesty Trademark. The dial looks rather newer than some of the dials that would be typical of others. I had a friend my who gave the clock that he had purchased at a garage or yard sale. He did not give me much of the details. The people sold him the told him that year was 1940. The case and dial is somewhat a giveaway as to the age. I suspect that the year is right around 1970 or 1971. I wish I would be able to post a picture of the clock so you guys will know what I might be talking about. Some of these people that are selling these clocks may not know for sure what they are selling while others may not know what they are purchasing. The the logo is from an unknown manufacturer and it is Japanese.
Jonathan Lee Jones

Spaceman Spiff
09-20-2011, 10:21 PM
I've got this Seiko Sonola...

Hi, Jay.
Nice find! :thumb:
Looks just like mine (http://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?t=44460), except mine was apparently produced for the Arabic market, judging by the calendar.
Good luck with your repairs.

Jay Fortner
09-20-2011, 10:35 PM
Hi, Jay.
Nice find! :thumb:
Looks just like mine (http://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?t=44460), except mine was apparently produced for the Arabic market, judging by the calendar.
Good luck with your repairs.
I saw yours when I did a search on this clock. Yours is nicer. This one took a tumble off of the wall. It's not mine,I took it in as a job.

01-03-2012, 12:17 AM
Hi New to the site and new to collecting. I have a couple of ordinary clock that I like and keep them going. I just purchased at an auction a L.Mizu. I did a little research but found very little except to find this forum. I read that another member owns a Mizu (S I think) and was wondering if any one had any info on this wall clock? I got it cheep because they could not keep it running but I seem to have the magic touch because after a quick blow and a level hanging spot it has been running for hours so far. 115366115367