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Determining quality of French carriage clocks?

Isaac

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Aug 5, 2013
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Hi all,

Might start looking into collecting these smaller clocks. Is there specific things to look out for regarding movement/case quality? I know lever escapements are better than cylinder escapements. More jewels is always good.

If someone could give me insight as to what makes up a good carriage clock, I'd be all ears. A lot of the movements (like most French roulants) look very similar to one another, so any advice/tips is appreciated.

Isaac
 

Salsagev

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Feb 6, 2020
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They are reliable in my experience. I work with French wall clocks though so I can''t say.
 

zedric

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Aug 8, 2012
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If you want to start collecting carriage clocks, then a copy of Allix and Bonnert’s book “Carriage clocks” is essential in my opinion.

These clocks come in all shapes and sizes, and for all budgets - most are good quality and some are exceptional. The only ones to avoid, really, are the modern Chinese clocks. There is a type, often with seconds hand, cloisonné enamel case and the striking work on the backplate which are quite common and very badly made.

Try to learn how to distinguish a gorge case, clocks in this design are often the best quality. And try to work out a theme for your collection because there are just so many types, but if you rush in then you can end up with a lot of the same.

Finally, the NAWCC has a chapter for those interested in carriage clocks, chapter 195
 

zedric

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Aug 8, 2012
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Also, “more jewels is better” is more a watch mantra than for carriage clocks. Any clock with a stamp saying the number of jewels is fairly modern, often they can be as later as the 1970s and are less interesting to collectors, even though of high quality!
 

zedric

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Aug 8, 2012
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Cracked glass can be replaced if you know the right people, so generally has only a small effect on price - replaced panels generally have a more green tinge side on than original ones. Cracks in curved glass can effect price, as these are nearly impossible to replace unless you know a glass blower..

Cracks in dials have more effect on price - small hairlines can sometimes be bleached or cleaned with denture cleaner (remove the dial first) while bigger cracks can require a dial to be remade, which is costly. If cleaning a dial, note that often the retailer's name on the dial is only inked on, and not baked into the enamel, so great care needs to be taken to preserve it. Usually the chapter ring and alarm indication (if any) are safe, but again, be very careful until you know that this is the case.

Dents in cases will effect price, as will obvious things such as missing handles etc.

Replaced platform escapements, likewise, will usually reduce the price of all but the cheapest of clocks, so it pays to know what an escapement looks like for the period of the clock, and that only comes with experience.
 

jmclaugh

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Jun 1, 2006
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As zedric says a copy of A&B's book is well worthwhile getting and will provide far more information than can be given in reply to this thread. The price second hand has fallen quite a bit in recent times and it is now quite affordable.
 

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