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French A Vedette Carillon

chimeclockfan

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Dec 21, 2006
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So after years of passively researching clocks made by Fabrique d'Horlogerie La Vedette SA, I've finally attained such a clock for myself.
This clock was sold to me by Gaius Coleman of Scotland and was retuned myself back in 2015. I did not think I'd eventually buy the entire clock at the time but it's made for a nice surprise. Arrived within just 3 days which is phenomenal for an international package this large, just ten years ago it would have been much longer.
Unfortunately when the clock was in storage the chime rods began to rust, requiring further attention. These are the last chime rods from the now-defunct German factory - production of new chime rods from another factory has made gradual progress, but it has been almost 3 years of misfires and mishaps before good new rods could be made again - and it ain't over yet. Never take factory production for granted.

Vedette can be effectively credited for popularizing the chiming box regulator in France, with sales eventually growing out to other countries including Spain and Vietnam. While these clocks eventually became passé in France and tend to be derided by certain American purists, other countries including Vietnam still boast a very strong market for these chiming box regulators. It is the preferred household clock: good timekeeper, nice chimes, overall quality construction, and easy-access for maintenance. They were regionally known as regulators because of the easy-access pendulum to adjust for fine timekeeping. Stateside known as box clocks due to the case shape and reluctance to refer to anything else as a 'regulator' than what was more regionally known (Seth Thomas No. 2, E. Howard, et al.).

Denis Raquin's fantastic Vedette website gives us this 1926 catalog with a cute illustration showing the same type of clock.
Take a look on his site:


The clock itself was in typical "used" condition, needing some cosmetic work and the backboard treated for cracks. The movement had been serviced but some aspects were forgotten including how to set up the chime/strike silencers. Normally there are two little hooks inside the case for the cords to grab into - no hooks here, apparently the repairer thought you looped the new cords around the wall levelers instead. I don't like to silence the chimes and strike:

Case As Arrived.JPG Case Staining.JPG Case Shellacked.JPG

Case received red Mahogany wood staining and a layer of shellac. Brass adornments are cleverly held on with screws and were separately shellacked. Dial pan was cleaned up but the dial itself did not need any repairs. Flat polished metal finish with screened numerals.
Case construction is the best out of any box regulator I've handled, solid good joints and not entirely held together with cheap nails.
I also made a new instructions panel which notes you can turn both minute and hour hands on this clock:

Brassware.JPG C6.JPG C4.JPG

Gong unit was alright, chime rods were redone again and luckily weren't too hard to clean up with Slicklube 50.
The smooshy imprint on the gong block casting is the <Vedette> logo, albeit barely distinguishable.
An old recording of a similar clock had been used as a guide towards what the rods should sound like.

Chime rod prep.JPG C5.JPG Gong.JPG

Movement is very good, solid quality and would easily put the Black Forest's offerings to shame. Out of all the wall clock movements I've handled so far, this is among the best yet. Eventually I will post a more thorough comparison of the Vedette against a Junghans, Kienzle, and French Girod - but that time has not come quite yet. Each clock would have done its basic functions - timekeeping, chimes - effectively but it's the aspects of construction and fine-tuning that really set each company apart.
Protip: oil the hammer leathers to make them nice and soft again. Hard leathers do not bode well on these regulators.

Movement Front.JPG Movement Stamps.JPG Oiling Hammer Leathers.JPG

Back on the wall and running strong. Keeping good time and the chimes play well, even with the springs wound down towards the week's end.

C1.JPG C7.JPG

 

Dave T

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Thanks a lot, Justin, Now you've got me wanting one. And I've told myself "NO MORE CLOCKS"!

Very nice find, glad you got it.
 
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claussclocks

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I really like the Vedette's. I have 5 of them and they have some of the best chimes I know. At least in my opinion.
I have one that looks like yours but the case was in a lighter possibly oak

DPC
 
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Salsagev

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A Vedette fan here! I’ve got 3 and one is leaving my collection soon going to someone familiar here! This is a beautiful restoration and the chimes have great musical tone!

Now I want to try a Vedette movement resto myself and trial it against Mauthe and HAC! A good movement shall be engineered with all aspects in mind - which this seems is that!

Thanks for sharing!
 
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chimeclockfan

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The Vedettes are amazing, I'd say the older ones have the most elegant cases and a very soft, warm sound compared to later clocks.
Vedette had a great engineering team and really knew how to make a good chime clock that did its job and wasn't needlessly complex.
Not really sure when they began to 'go abroad' but the late Doug Stevenson noted the prevalence of French box regulators being exported to other countries throughout the late 2000's. It owes to the rise of the internet and global clock trades.
 

Salsagev

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The later Vedette 37s seem to have gone more with the clear and strong tone rather than the earlier perfect tones. The 30s Vedettes 45 went with the longer rods, mounted on hex heads, which sound quite grand.

I notice quite a few of these earlier Vedette clocks and the later 37s in the states but almost no 45s. I speculate the 37s were imported to the states from Vedette themselves and the earlier Vedettes imported in the 2000s.
 

chimeclockfan

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I prefer the older, pre-war Vedettes for the deep-voiced chimes and case styles. That said some of those later Vedette 37s have bronze rods which give a deep, sonorous sound in those smaller cases. I don't know if the bronze vs. steel rods were a catalog option, client demand, or just something the factory tried out since you sometimes find those 1930's Vedette 45s with bronze rods instead of steel. The older 1920's Vedettes always have steel rods in a square block.
 

Isaac

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A beautiful clock with a great sound! I like the solid pinions in the movement. Plate thickness looks to be a touch thicker than the likes of Kienzle or Junghans. It's funny how plain the front plate looks without all the winding click assemblies present since they're all on the rear plate. Looking forward to your comparisons.

Regards.

Isaac
 
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chimeclockfan

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Not only are the plates a bit thicker but the wheels are very neatly machined, comparable to Herschede or Becker in many ways.
The gong block casting is made of soft iron and is a considerate factor into the warm, spaced-out sound.
 

Burkhard Rasch

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verry nice clock, my brother has the same model, in light oak with identical brass trims . Interestingly I cannot see either rthe tin clamp for the key (right) or the clamp for the little booklet (left) . Are they missing or never been there?
And Yes, Vedettes are best quality and best sound and -thank Lord- much underrated, especially in France!
Burkhard
 
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chimeclockfan

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Hi Burkhard, I couldn't find any of the old retaining clamps inside the case. They were probably removed with the original silencing hooks when
the clock was first rebuilt years ago - I found a small hole indicating where the chime rod clamp would have been placed so I'll have to devise a substitute when it's time to move again someday. The large chime rods have a tendency to whip around if not secured during transit.
 

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