In Praise of Fake Ansonia Movements.

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by Friendofclocks, Aug 16, 2019.

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  1. Friendofclocks

    Friendofclocks Registered User

    Dec 1, 2018
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    I'm writing something I've wanted to post for some time, but distracted by other priorities, pressures forcing me to put participation in this group on hold. As these issues persist, hopefully it's OK I'm writing a bit haphazardly to get the point across.

    As I indicated in my initial participation in this forum, I was renewing (somewhat problematically for some in this group) my teenage fascination with reproduction clock kits triggered when as a kid I saw some in Popular Mechanics and I was seduced. (It had been a review of Mason and Sullivan, "Emperor" and "craft products" kits.) At the time (around 1983) I got the catalog from Craft, and again was "seduced," buying an oak store regulator kit (35") that ticks to this day.

    At the time, Craft advertised most of its clocks as containing "fine West German movements" by Hermle, Urgos, and Kieninger. As a kid, that *almost* sounded like "Rolex" to me, though I was sophisticated enough to know not exactly. Still, it was some form of European craftsmanship compared to Chinese ubiquity. I was choosing between the gong-strike store clock and an octagon westminster drop clock, the latter with Hermle, the former with (so-called) "Ansonia" movement. Hermle they said was German, "Ansonia" not specified as to origin. Indeed, 99% of the kits they were selling had the German movements, the store clock apparently the only exception. Though I wanted the "prestige" of the Hermle, I opted for the store clock because I liked the aesthetics including imposing size.

    So years later, I found the Craft/Hermle drop clock (already built) at Goodwill.com for $10(!) and jumped on it (1983 kit price was $129; my store clock has been $119). When the octagon/school clock arrived, the back has a clocksmith's notation that it had been rebuilt for $100 or $120 around 1998 (I forgot the exact details and I'm unable to check for various reasons). I did some of my own work to spruce up the case (slightly, but quite effortfully re-positioning some parts like the lower door and the octagon to achieve a more professional appearance that the original owner achieved).

    But here is the upshot: All those years when I'd assumed the Hermle was better, and my "Ansonia" was a compromise, turns out I was wrong. I've subsequently learned that the "Ansonia" I got is a Japanese reproduction of an antique original, reproducing in materials and design the original model, or that's what I think.

    The "Ansonia" was imposingly heavy and solid, when handled (admitedly, a 35 year old memory). It felt like my conception of a real "machine." Handling the Hermle was a very different experience: it seems lighter and flimsier.

    When the "Ansonia" ticks, it has a satisfyingly solid percussive sound. Each impact is crisp and vigorous, in the way a hammer's clean strike of a nail satisfies. The Hermle seems very weak, anemic, by comparison, just as its feel in the hands seemed underwhelming compared to my recollection of handling the "Ansonia."

    So, wondering if my take on the "Ansonia" rings true? I've read many, many comments here on the superiority of antique movements to modern ones. Is it likely my reproduction Ansonia successfully copied the strengths of the original, and that this is what I'm detecting in my comparison to the Hermle? Or is my comparison likely confused (either based on distorted memories or based on Ansonia reproductions in actually being comparable in quality to Hermles)? Again, this is mostly based on the sound of the tick-tock, Ansonia seeming much more robust and solid.
     
  2. Friendofclocks

    Friendofclocks Registered User

    Dec 1, 2018
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    Actually, now that I think about it, I likely confused the approximate year it was rebuilt: maybe a few years into this century?

    The reason I can't check will be unique to this crowd: I hung it with the top of the octagon form covering an eyesore doorbell chime, using that component's screw to suspend the clock. This could only be done by temporarily removing the octagon assembly (several screws) to drive in the screw. Can't get the clock down without 10-15 minutes of work, may 20-25 minutes round-trip.
     
  3. lpbp

    lpbp Registered User
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    Aug 25, 2000
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    Some early Japanese clocks actually had Ansonia movements in them, later they copied that movement and it was a reasonably good movement, they used other designs that weren't as good.
     

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