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  1. #1
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    Default Bulle Wall clock

    I have a Bulle wall clock, housed in a five pane glass case with a metal frame. I inherited this clock from my father who inherited it from a great uncle. The clock was brought to the Dominican Republic (where I live) at the beginning of the 20th century. My father was born in 1924 and he says that since his earliest memories, that clock hung in his uncle's house. He has passed so I have no further information. The only thing I remember him telling me is that since batteries were hard to get in the Dominican Republic in those days, his uncle would mix chemicals and make a wet cell. However, I don't have the wet cell or even photos of it.
    It is in working condition, although the hour hand and gear were lost and an adaptation was made. I am starting on a conservation project although I may turn to a restoration later.
    I have partially disassembled the clock to assess the condition and will post some photos. The clock has no serial number.
    I am hoping to get some help in identifying year of clock and any related history. I am also interested in getting the the hour gear and hand, which I have crudely adapted. I also would like a source of small screws as some of them have been lost or damaged.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_9723.jpg   IMG_9737.jpg   IMG_9727.jpg   IMG_9758.jpg   IMG_9726.jpg  

    IMG_9767.jpg  

  2. #2
    Principal Administrator John Hubby's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bulle Wall clock (By: BULLE)

    Bulle, welcome to the NAWCC Message Board! Thanks for posting your inquiry about your Bulle clock, information about its provenance, and the photos.

    I have not seen any Bulle clock like this one, but would offer some observations about its age:

    > The first isochronous springs, which this one has, were introduced in the first year of production 1920 at about serial number 750.

    > The double pawl driving arrangement, of which a modified version is found on the movement, was first introduced in late 1921 at about serial number 15300.

    > Finally, the metal cased pendulum coil with black finish was first introduced near the end of 1924.

    > Except for the gearing and movement assembly, and the device that is positioned above the pendulum coil, the other features of your clock are quite similar to other Bulle clocks made in 1925 and later.

    The device above the pendulum coil is interesting but at the moment I don't have any idea what it does. At first I thought it might be a fine adjustment for timekeeping, but the normal rating nut appears to be in place so that might not be its purpose. Hopefully others seeing this may have an idea.

    The movement is easy enough to figure out. The contact yoke that is impulsed by the contact pin on the pendulum rod drives a 60-tooth wheel to which the seconds hand is attached, that would mean the pendulum must be a 120 beat design in order to read true seconds. Since the Bulle pendulum only impulses in one direction, 120 / 2 = 60.

    The "seconds" gear arbor then has another gear between the two large plates that drives a contrate wheel. The contrate wheel shaft has the typical Bulle worm gear at the other end, that in turn drives the minute wheel and arbor. The minute arbor cannon pinion then turns the intermediate gear that will turn the hour pipe. Your clock appears to be missing the hour pipe and associated gear. I would believe that a standard size Bulle clock hour pipe should fit your clock, these would be found by parts exchange with other collectors or sometimes in eBay and other internet sources. Your missing hour hand will be of the same design as the minute hand, and also will likely need to be sourced from a donor clock, although there are hands available from most major parts suppliers that could be adapted t work.

    Some other observations:

    > The small long plate at the top of the pendulum support is not assembled correctly. The open hole on that plate should be mounted where the present mounting is located. This will situate the end of that plate even with the L-shape angle piece connected to the front rod of the pendulum. There originally would have been another screw with insulator to screw into the suspension support arm and hold the long plate horizontal. The screw, nut, and insulator are there but installed incorrectly on the opposite side of the support arm. This same screw is to lock the suspension into place once the clock is assembled and properly running. Also, originally there would have been a type of hairspring (like an alarm clock escapement hairspring) connecting the end of the plate and the L-shape piece, the screws for mounting are still there. I will find a photo later to post for info.

    > It doesn't appear that the wiring connections at the top of the pendulum are correct. However, the photos aren't clear enough to be able to see that detail. You mention the clock is in operating condition but does the clock actually run correctly right now?

    In summary, you have a VERY interesting clock that needs careful restoration. Although you mention it was brought to the Dominican Republic at the beginning of the 20th century, that would not be possible since Bulle did not make any clocks until his patent models were completed in the second half of 1919, and those are well documented. We also know that commercial production started in early 1920. Based on the characteristics and dating of the features of your movement that I have described above, my judgement is that it was not made earlier than the beginning of 1925. This is predicated on the pendulum design on your clock, which is the replacement design from being thread-wrapped to the black lacquered finish that is found on your clock.

    It will be appreciated if you could post photos of the clock case, as that also will be useful to date the clock.

    Since I have not previously seen one of these and that it does not have a serial number but does have features that are well documented as to function and when introduced, I suspect it could have been a prototype that did not enter volume production. Since it seems your great-uncle brought the clock to the Dominican Republic, your father was born in 1924 and remembers the clock "always being in his uncle's home", the date of 1925 or even a year or two later would be quite possible and perfectly match the dating I have provided.

    We will look forward to your continuing to update us as you make progress with restoration, and I'm sure others here will help to answer your questions.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Bulle Wall clock (By: John Hubby)

    Hi John
    I'm thinking it is a temperature compensator.
    If that is what it is, there must be a patent for it.
    Tinker Dwight

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Bulle Wall clock (By: Tinker Dwight)

    John,

    Thanks for your observations on my Bulle clock. That, along with some other inquiries and research that I have made, along with some family interviews, has given me a pretty good idea of the date and possible origins of the clock.

    Your observations on the dates of springs, pawl arrangement and coil indicated to you that the clock was probably from “1925 or even a year or two later”. That appears to be correct. I think I can now date the clock to 1927.

    I base this on the following findings. One is the Bulle catalogue from 1925 and a price sheet from 1929 that Peter Smith has on his website.

    The 1925 Bulle catalogue showcases as their main product the Garde-Temps and describes it as a “Regulateur de Haute Precision” (High Precision Regulator). It then states that the Grande-Temps has “Additional new device for the absolute compensation of all temperatures (patented by Favre-Bulle)”. See attachments.

    Although the catalogue has a drawing of the Garde-Temps, it is housed in a wood cabinet and does not show the pendulum. It does show the dial with the seconds hand positioned about the center hour/minute hand. However, David Reed, who was referred to me by Peter Smith, had one of the few known Garde-Temps and he was kind enough to send me photographs. The Garde-Temp has the exact same pendulum as my clock. This pretty much confirms that the unusual device that sits on top of the coil is a temperature-compensating device.

    The other relevant information comes from the 1929 price catalogue. The extensive price list has 90 different clocks and the last one is the Garde-Temps (Model Z) , which is listed as a “Regulateur”. Curiously, this is the only piece that does not have a price. As I reviewed the price list I came upon Model W (on page 3) which is described as “Regulateur mural (wall clock), tres soigne (which could mean very nice, or posh, or top rate), gold plated bronze frame, five beveled glass panes, height 31cm, pendulum 29cm, 5…..660francs”. This perfectly describes my clock. The only confusion comes from the height, which I originally assumed referred to the height of the case, but 31cm is the exact height of the complete clock movement. This may be a coincidence as it appears that the “hauteur” number in other models refers to the clock height, not the movement. The pendulum is 29cm.

    Now that the clock has been apparently identified, the question is what year was it made. As I said in my introductory email, I believed that it was brought to the Dominican Republic by my great uncle and that my father remembers the clock since he was very young. I called my aunt who is the only remaining member of that generation and asked her if she had any recollection of this clock. I told her I thought it was bought in France by my great uncle. She said that that was not possible, because my great uncle never travelled to Europe, but that my grand father did travel to France with my grandmother and father who was two or three years old. Lo and behold, I checked the Ellis Island arrival records and found that in fact my grandfather, with wife and 3 year old Manuel (my father) arrived from France to New York aboard the SS France on September 28, 1927. I have little doubt that that was when my grandfather bought the clock.

    One of the questions I now have is why the clock does not have a serial number. I have a number of ideas based on some literature I have read. When I research it more I will post my findings.

    I have started to evaluate the clock and plan the work ahead. In the meantime, I have run the clock on a test stand and will attached a video.

    Manuel

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    Default Re: Bulle Wall clock (By: BULLE)

    /Users/mets/Desktop/IMG_9904.MOV

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    Default Re: Bulle Wall clock (By: BULLE)

    Bulle.mov

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Bulle Wall clock (By: BULLE)

    One of the problems with posting pointers is that they may not
    be complete.
    Use the Go Advanced button below and transfer the file.
    Tinker Dwight

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Bulle Wall clock (By: Tinker Dwight)


  9. #9

    Default Re: Bulle Wall clock (By: BULLE)

    Manuel

    Thank you for posting the video on youtube. It certainly looks a special and rare clock.

    There is some additional information and photographs on the ClockDoc website (http://wp.clockdoc.org/gallery/european-other/). Included is some information which suggest that the temperature compensation device was first invented in the 1860's by Josef Vorauer.

    Best regards,

    Peter

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