The Future of Clock Collecting

Isaac

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As a relatively young collector, I've been pondering what clock collecting will look like in the future especially regarding my generation. Part of me worries that the interest in antique clocks will continue to dwindle (watches and the sort will likely do fine, since they're in-fashion and luxury items) because there's just an honest lack of interest/awareness regarding the hobby of collecting/repairing clocks.

Not many people in my generation want to spend the time to get an antique clock properly in-beat and regulated to run accurately across the week, especially since we have extremely quick access to digitalized time on demand (which never needs to be adjusted most of the time unless changing time zones). Clocks that don't work get thrown out, much like the mindset of "replace, don't repair". Of course, as time goes on there will be less and less people to fix antique clocks or family heirlooms, which would naturally present a pretty significant issue. I suspect high-value clocks will of course get specialized treatment and care, but the vast majority of mass-produced clocks we commonly encounter might face the aforementioned issue.

Your thoughts on the issue?
 
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bruce linde

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Similar, but perhaps with more depression in the mix. I’m 67 as of this writing and have amassed a small collection of clocks that make me very happy. I don’t really need them to tell time… I like them as the intersection of physics, mechanics and art. What depresses me is what’s going to happen to them after u go. Some are highly desirable, while others will probably only be appreciated by a dwindling number of clock nuts.

My clock mentor has some truly astounding clocks. I asked him how he felt about the issue and he said that once he goes it’s not his problem… and seemed OK with that. On the other hand, he’s been doing it for over 40 years and I’ve only been in for about 10. He’s also got another 15 years on me, which no doubt informs his perspective.

I follow my clock passion every day and try to keep it in the moment where it’s all about tolerances and in beat. :)
 
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Carl Bergquist

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It used to be said that every second or third generation were collectors and we are now in a rather deep lull. I won't be around to see if this is true, but I have no idea what is going to happen to mine. On the more optimistic side I believe that there will always be people around that love mechanical things which will lead them to these old beasts. My grandpa was a man of the depression and nothing was ever too damaged to repair. He instilled that gene in me and I hope I have passed along to as many youngsters as will listen the joy in finding out what makes things tick.
 

Schatznut

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Similar, but perhaps with more depression in the mix. I’m 67 as of this writing and have amassed a small collection of clocks that make me very happy. I don’t really need them to tell time… I like them as the intersection of physics, mechanics and art. What depresses me is what’s going to happen to them after u go. Some are highly desirable, while others will probably only be appreciated by a dwindling number of clock nuts.

My clock mentor has some truly astounding clocks. I asked him how he felt about the issue and he said that once he goes it’s not his problem… and seemed OK with that. On the other hand, he’s been doing it for over 40 years and I’ve only been in for about 10. He’s also got another 15 years on me, which no doubt informs his perspective.

I follow my clock passion every day and try to keep it in the moment where it’s all about tolerances and in beat. :)
I totally agree with Bruce. My passion is taking an old worthless clock and making it run like new again, and I tend to pick up the orphans and strays that no one else wants. I don't have to worry about what happens to the 18th-century masterpieces after I'm gone because there aren't any in my care. The difference between one of my clocks before and after I get done with it is that it starts out as an old worthless clock and ends up as an old worthless clock that runs. There is that common denominator. But for a stroke of chance they were doomed before I got them and likely will be doomed again when I go. I didn't start out to be a collector, and still don't think I am. I repair clocks and they just seem to accumulate.

Many of us on this forum tend to anthropomorphize our clocks and I'm probably much worse than most. I think that Weisenberg was right (see below). And that will drive you crazy.
 
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novicetimekeeper

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I buy good clocks as cheap as I can, but I don't buy them to make a profit, just to amuse myself. Others spend their money on expensive cars or children. When I go it is somebody else's problem.
 
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Chris Radano

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Bruce, you appear young in your posts. I always thought you were younger than I, I just had my 52nd birthday. I have 20 years of clock collecting. I am largely self taught, which explains my slow progress.
Yes I keep waiting for prices of fine English clocks to drop. Perhaps they have a bit since 15 years ago, at least in the USA. But I still can't get the good ones in England cheap!
Others I think went up a bit in the last 15 years- Fine cuckoos, and Chelsea seem to have increased. Some French as well.
Good Americans are still expensive. Some prices still raise eyebrows.
So despite my wishes and hopes for prices to reach bargain status, somebody else keeps bidding on good clocks. And I don't have the means to interview these souls to find out why they keep buying clocks, so I am stuck theorizing.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Like you Chris, I am frequently outbid. It suggests there is still some interest beyond my pocket.
 
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rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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I have been collecting clocks and other things for 30-40 years. I have been a member of NAWCC since 1988. Yes, there are people who participate in the Forums who have been members for much longer. I'm glad to say I'm not QUITE as old as Bruce.

It's not just what is the future of clock collecting, but what is future of collecting antiques in general?

I don't know the answer to that. My crystal ball is on the fritz. I don't think anyone really does. One can only speculate and very imperfectly prognosticate.

In the years that I have collected, tastes have changed, fads have come and gone, prices gone up and down. What was once "hot" is now an out of fashion "granny antique". I remember when yuppies went into a feeding frenzy over that heavily refinished golden oak furniture. Now, something a millennial or a hipster wouldn't be caught dead with. Same stuff, changing tastes.

The basic bromide goes something like the best always holds its value. Well, not always. I've seen some auction results for some very fine things bought in the '90's and 2000's that more recently have brought eye watering prices. However, the prices achieved actually represented a significant loss. Tall case clocks, for example.

So, I collect what I like, what interests me and I find aesthetically pleasing. I love researching my purchases and understanding the context of the time of their creation. With regards to clocks, this includes the technical aspects of the movement, where it fits into the history of American horology and the decorative/design elements, e.g., the Fenn glass, etc.

I will say that in the past few years a # of things have become quite accessible. However, at some recent auctions, I have noted a definite upward trend, for some things rather strong. But then again, I'm comparing the prices to the doldrums of the past 5-10 years. By the way, I think this might be a "bubble" as people turn from spending on antiques and resume spending discretionary $$ on vacations, travel, going to movies and restaurants and spending less time at home. However, for a # of categories of clocks and antiques, there remain great opportunities as prices are down, again in some instances reflecting changing tastes in general.

Will my collection of "stuff" pay off in the end? Probably won't be my problem.

RM
 

DeanT

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Like you Chris, I am frequently outbid. It suggests there is still some interest beyond my pocket.
I suspect this is because you are able to identify the better clocks from the rubbish. Usually these clocks are better bid as there are others with the same skills and knowledge. But fortunately not always. :)
 

novicetimekeeper

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I suspect this is because you are able to identify the better clocks from the rubbish. Usually these clocks are better bid as there are others with the same skills and knowledge. But fortunately not always. :)
It is a bit of the reverse to the saying I always used in business, any fool can give it away.

Though in some instances I could probably win by bidding more, there is a sense of pitching it right and winning some of the good ones at a decent price.
 

chimeclockfan

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I don't think the hobby will die out entirely but where it's more popular has certainly shifted.
Plenty of youngsters and families who enjoy having mechanical clocks in their households... in Vietnam.
Meanwhile I've known young collectors in Britain, Germany, and other countries.
With the global clock trade I don't think you'll find a mass exodus of antique clocks in the end.
There's always some country with enough people into this stuff - even if it's halfway around the world.

Still wanna put a clock on the moon someday. Haha.
 

Salsagev

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I don't think you'll find a mass exodus of antique clocks in the end.
Yup, the Vietnamese do not collect American clocks (from a Vietnamese collector).

I will say that in the past few years a # of things have become quite accessible. However, at some recent auctions, I have noted a definite upward trend, for some things rather strong.
Some examples include Ansonia, Vedette 1950s, and even some Korean makes, while tall cases (as you said) and some bracket clocks have hit rock bottom.

The thing with these antiques is that they are no longer the "centerpiece" of their ancestors memories. Thats the only reason why people are selling these for rock bottom prices. High end stuff will probably never change very much because they are mostly in the hands of collectors already.

Regarding the "future" of clock collecting, we need to make clocks matter to someone or even fit for ones lifestyle. Make clock collecting more attractive. They make collecting Cheetos attractive so I think you can do the same for this!

Anybody want to know my method for buying cheap? Too bad, it is a secret! :)
 

Schatznut

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I haven't paid any money for the vast piles of clocks and watches I've got rusting away in my yard.
Ouch! How many of them are sitting on cinder blocks with the hoods open? :cool:
 

Salsagev

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bruce linde

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Bruce, you appear young in your posts. I always thought you were younger than I, I just had my 52nd birthday. I have 20 years of clock collecting. I am largely self taught, which explains my slow progress.
well, if we measure in terms of clock addiction, i’m 11. :)

i’m hearing a common theme: it will be someone else’s problem.

yes… and that’s part of what concerns me. I created a website to show off my clocks and keep track of them… it includes a password-protected control panel that allows me to manage them, and also provide notes for my sister who is slated to be my executor. Every time I wind a clock, though… which would be a little over 50 times every Tuesday morning… I think about how the clock is secured to the wall, what pieces would need to be removed and what order to take it down safely and or transport it, how it might be received at auction, and whether it’s going to end up at the dump.

all of my friends are well aware of my clock addiction/passion, and a few of them even have clocks. All we can do is expose people to what makes our clocks so special, and why they resonate with us, and hope that they will be intrigued. One of my tennis buddies surprised me out of the blue by asking if I would help him and his wife find a tall case time only regulator. Maybe there is some hope?
 

leeinv66

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What a depressing lot you are ;) I am 60 and have been interested in clocks since I was a child. Brought my first clock to restore at auction when I was twelve. None of my friends or family share my interest, other than to have me fix a clock for someone then know. 99% of the people I have I know who share my interest I have met through the internet. So in my world, I have only ever seen an increase in the popularity of clock collecting. Moreover, given the high prices that are being asked in my neck of the woods, it looks like clock collecting is booming. People certainly aren't throwing them in the trash. Otherwise, I'd be spending a lot of time dumpster diving :)
 

Schatznut

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What a depressing lot you are ;) I am 60 and have been interested in clocks since I was a child. Brought my first clock to restore at auction when I was twelve. None of my friends or family share my interest, other than to have me fix a clock for someone then know. 99% of the people I have met who share my interest has been through the internet. So in my world, I have only ever seen an increase in the popularity of clock collecting. Moreover, given the high prices that are being asked in my neck of the woods, it looks like clock collecting is booming. People certainly aren't throwing them in the trash. Otherwise, I'd be spending a lot of time dumpster diving :)
You do make a good point, Pee-tah. 400-day clocks are my sweet spot and I've noticed that on average their prices have doubled and in some cases tripled in the last two years. There's always the stroker asking an insane amount (the more someone screams "rare" the more I'm convinced they're trying to get rich quick) but they're easy to filter out. Are others seeing the same trend in other clock types?
 
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Bruce Alexander

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well, if we measure in terms of clock addiction, i’m 11. :)
I like this Bruce. Me too.

I like to buy, service and sell. I'm doing more servicing of other people's clocks, but I'm still mostly focused on finding homes for our stash. The market has declined during my clock addiction which makes it hard sometimes not to be the fool who "gives it away" but I do enjoy giving clocks a new lease on life with one more new owner and I'm not complaining.

Most of my customers/clients seem to enjoy their clocks. Occasionally I run across someone with no prior experience in owning and operating a mechanical clock. When combined with no mechanical aptitude, that can be a disaster.

In an attempt to answer your question Isaac, I think it will depend heavily on the economy. We have seen a bifurcation of the classes in the United States during the Pandemic. Only the affluent have disposable income. I noticed a real dip in the collection market following the Real Estate crash of '08. As the middle class diminishes, so too will the market for middle class and low-end clocks.

A lot will depend upon social "trends", and RM points out. Those can be as mercurial as Cryptocurrency.

I think we're all very fortunate to even be able to contemplate the question.

Regards,

Bruce
 

DeanT

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well, if we measure in terms of clock addiction, i’m 11. :)

i’m hearing a common theme: it will be someone else’s problem.

yes… and that’s part of what concerns me. I created a website to show off my clocks and keep track of them… it includes a password-protected control panel that allows me to manage them, and also provide notes for my sister who is slated to be my executor. Every time I wind a clock, though… which would be a little over 50 times every Tuesday morning… I think about how the clock is secured to the wall, what pieces would need to be removed and what order to take it down safely and or transport it, how it might be received at auction, and whether it’s going to end up at the dump.

all of my friends are well aware of my clock addiction/passion, and a few of them even have clocks. All we can do is expose people to what makes our clocks so special, and why they resonate with us, and hope that they will be intrigued. One of my tennis buddies surprised me out of the blue by asking if I would help him and his wife find a tall case time only regulator. Maybe there is some hope?
Its not only about their value as I see them as providing satisfaction and enjoyment over the years. I've spent money restoring clocks which from a financial perspective wasn't sensible but I enjoyed it, these clocks make me feel good as I saved them from ruin and it provided an income for my talented good friends as well. So money well spent even if I won't get it back....

Many people buy expensive cars, race horses or holidays which depreciate quickly and could lose nearly 100% of their value. Not sure why we expect clocks to go up in value? You certainly wouldn't buy the latest sports car as an investment. If you enjoyed having the clocks and your estate got back close to what you paid this seems like a great deal!

Yes documenting them is a great idea as at least when they get sold the seller will have a good idea of what the clocks are so they don't give them away and get fleeced by buyers taking advantage of their lack of knowledge. Some of my clocks are a little obscure without specialist knowledge so I've got most documented with a one page description, ordered by country of origin and approximate date. for example, E1 for English clock number one etc. I have another spreadsheet with their approximate (aka wishful thinking) valuation, only to be opened after my passing. Plus a contact name or two to help with the selling.

E1.JPG
 
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Chris Radano

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What a depressing lot you are ;) I am 60 and have been interested in clocks since I was a child. Brought my first clock to restore at auction when I was twelve. None of my friends or family share my interest, other than to have me fix a clock for someone then know. 99% of the people I have I know who share my interest I have met through the internet. So in my world, I have only ever seen an increase in the popularity of clock collecting. Moreover, given the high prices that are being asked in my neck of the woods, it looks like clock collecting is booming. People certainly aren't throwing them in the trash. Otherwise, I'd be spending a lot of time dumpster diving :)
Peter, you echo my experience with collecting clocks. I started on my own without really any prompting. My interest in clocks started firstly with my interest in collecting since I was around 10 years old. But with clocks, there are aspects of history, mechanics, physics, and art. So there is a lot to hold my interest.
I had not known anyone previously who collected clocks, including family (even grandparents) and friends. With the advent of the internet so began my clock collecting. So, considering myself an optimist, I believe there are others who will become organically interested in clocks.
It is worth pointing out, the vast majority of people are not collectors of any kind. Do we tend to expect the masses to be interested in collecting clocks? This simply is unrealistic, and has never been the case.
I will add, with the advent of online sales, in my opinion there is also a bit of market saturation. Until 25 years ago, there was not such a selection available worldwide. I think in many instances this reflects in prices dropping. With auctions, there are increased costs associated with the online marketplace with are passed along to buyers with increased buyer's fees. Higher buyer's fees means decreased prices for items sold. So perhaps there are other factors besides economic trends and politics at play with clocks and collectors.

Just one more thing. These are cars my buddies had when we were in High School: 1968 Chevy Nova straight six. 1966 Corvette convertible with removable hardtop. 1969 Chevy Blazer with removable hardtop. 1968 Chrysler Newport. There were others I can't remember now. So if those jalopies (except the Corvette) were sold today the appreciation would be something like 1000%. Not totally relevant to the topic but I am amazed at how much muscle cars and cars that cost $1000 30-40 years ago have increased.
 
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chimeclockfan

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Until 25 years ago, there was not such a selection available worldwide. I think in many instances this reflects in prices dropping.
Here's a question for you all: how many clocks would you have if you were restricted to buying only from local selections?
No internet, not much in the way of roadtrips or phonecalls. Just whatever would have been attainable in your town.
 

Chris Radano

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I have bought quite a few from local auctions, especially those that would be an inconvenience to ship. Before the internet buyers relied on printed catalogs. Ironically I view local auctions online. With the internet it is easier for buyers to cherry pick what they like to collect the most- which must have an affect on prices but I'm not sure how.
 

DeanT

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Here's a question for you all: how many clocks would you have if you were restricted to buying only from local selections?
No internet, not much in the way of roadtrips or phonecalls. Just whatever would have been attainable in your town.
95% international purchase off the Internet
 
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Bruce Alexander

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Seems to me that what you're describing CCF are yard sales. For me, even local purchases were mostly found on the Internet. My mentor would go "Yard Sailing" for bargains that he would restore and sell. He even disliked local estate auctions because of the time spent sitting and waiting for clocks to come up. Guess he didn't mind driving around looking for yard sales in nice weather though.
Most of our purchases and sales have been conducted through the Internet. Probably less than 5% and those would have been found at local antique malls.
 
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Salsagev

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Here's a question for you all: how many clocks would you have if you were restricted to buying only from local selections?
No internet, not much in the way of roadtrips or phonecalls. Just whatever would have been attainable in your town.
98 percent is from online preview or auction and one or two is from coming across at thrift stores or antique shops. My paintings, however, are mostly from thrift stores.
 

brian fisher

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i have mostly stopped buying clocks these days so unfortunately, i am not doing my part to stimulate the horological economy. not because i have lost interest, but space has become an issue as well as a wife that doesn't want a house cluttered with them. anything i buy from here on out is going to be fairly extraordinary like a 10-12 inch chelsea or an astronomical. i can think of a few others perhaps.....
 
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Bruce Alexander

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Yeah, I'm pretty much in the same boat as you Brian. My wife and I will be downsizing in the not-too-distant future. I have purchased a couple of Baby Bens this year, but they are more watch than clock as far as space is concerned. Neat little things. Also purchased these online (eBay).
 

leeinv66

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I have over 120 clocks in my collection (I don't count the ones I haven't restored) and all but 3 of them were brought via Ebay. But to be fair, I do live on an island.
 

novicetimekeeper

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I have over 120 clocks in my collection (I don't count the ones I haven't restored) and all but 3 of them were brought via Ebay. But to be fair, I do live on an island.
I live on an island too, though it is bigger, there is another to the West about the same size as yours. Dean lives on an Island as well, but that is a different thing altogether.
 
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DeanT

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I have over 120 clocks in my collection (I don't count the ones I haven't restored) and all but 3 of them were brought via Ebay. But to be fair, I do live on an island.

I live on the larger island just north of your small island.

I did laugh as the same discussion was had 12 years ago with many of the same names posting...not much has changed. I wonder if the original posters still agree with their comments?

 

Bruce Alexander

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I did laugh as the same discussion was had 12 years ago with many of the same names posting...not much has changed. I wonder if the original posters still agree with their comments?
Dean,

That is a nice feature of the updated Message Board/Forum environment, isn't it? I'll have to get into the habit of looking at the "SIMILAR THREADS" feed.

If past is prologue, you can get a "feel" by searching price results on an auctioneer website like Liveauctioneers.com. Using a canary-in-the-coal-mine model like the Seth Thomas "Garfield", (or choose your own) one can clearly see a downward price trend (that we're all well aware of) over the last 14 years. This is before taking into account inflation of both the Dollar and "Buyer's Premiums".

An extreme example would be the $2,000 (highest price) specimen selling in February of 2006 being the equivalent of $2,650 so far this year vs. a comparable(?) $1,100 specimen selling in 2020. That price being the equivalent of $860 in 2006.

If I'm reading charts right, $2000 invested in a Spider ETF over roughly the same period be up about 175+% today.

I can imagine no reason why trends would suddenly reverse themselves.

I say with modest confidence that most clocks are not an investment and most of us are in a very expensive hobby.

Regards,

Bruce
 
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DeanT

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I was always look at the bottom to see similar threads as quite often interesting connections turn up.

The clocks that interest me don't sell too often and are mostly one offs so really hard to compare and track. When you only have one clock sold 5 years ago as comparison its hard to draw concrete conclusions as the variability of condition, bidding interest and quality of auctioneer descriptions are high. But I honestly think the prices bottomed a few years ago but its virtually impossible for me to confirm. Don't know if they are going up but it feels like they have stopped falling in the categories which interest me.
 

Bruce Alexander

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It's a good feature of the new Message Board. I'm going to try making it a point to look at "Similar Threads" too. The search is right there for us. I've noticed it but I haven't really looked at any of the results before now.

I agree, there are a lot of variables which probably can not be adequately accounted for. You have some very rare and beautiful clocks in your collection. I would suspect them to keep pace with inflation or to even outpace it in the right market.

Although I believe that we have some nice specimens in our personal collection, clocks I generally deal with are not high-end. Let's call them "accessible" and they are an expense. I don't think that our economy ever fully recovered from the residential real estate bubble. It was certainly changed. My wife and I believe that there may be a commercial real estate and inflationary "correction" coming. I also agree with RM that we're probably seeing a pandemic related bubble in clock collecting, but I have no crystal ball. It was interesting to look back at the previous thread.

Thanks for pointing it out. :)
 
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Chris Radano

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I think we discuss this topic once or twice every year.
I am usually interested in the topic. When I type a response it's a way for me to focus my thoughts (which are subjective).
Bruce, I don't disagree with your thoughts of the real estate bubble burst of 2008. Things were never quite the same since then. But I think the early 2000's were a bubble. People were using the internet on an ever increasing scale. There was a general feeling of excitement. Prices were high, but looking back I think people (collectors) felt enthusiasm and optimism having all these things available at their fingertips, that previously couldn't be found in their region or perhaps took a lifetime to find. I think prices were inflated, you point out some of the nicer Seth Thomas clocks which benefitted from some of the high prices. So it was a bubble, and the real estate crash was the catalyst that ended that initial enthusiasm of the onset of the Worldwide internet.
I think what we see today is more "real" than before the real estate bubble. Some prices of clocks take a real dip from time to time. But to me they may not be at the right sale venue, are presented online poorly, or perhaps are simply victims of changing tastes RM refers to.
I see tastes and prices fluctuating at a rapid pace. And I think there is a slight market saturation as collectors sell or people want to make a buck, which affects prices. Also I did not mention, the last couple years the marketplace share pie is being cut into more and more by social media (which in my opinion is turning things to a more local scale again). I think collectors are still to date interested in collecting, though.
 

jmclaugh

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Maybe one of the biggest issues is what seems to be the decline in those repairing/servicing clocks but....

 
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rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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Again, I see clock collecting as one aspect of the antiques market, somewhat sadly reflected in this past weekend's experience.

This past Saturday and Sunday, there was a gigantic 2 day outdoor/indoor show in Deerfield, NH. It was the inaugural show. It was meant as something of a replacement of the Spring Brimfield shows which this year occurred in a very much reduced form (only 1 field opened).

The weather up here this weekend was atrocious. 41 degrees (Fahrenheit) and relentless downpours. I did not attend the first day, but did the morning of the second as the rain stopped between about 9 AM to about 1 PM. Still in the 40's.

The first day, in the pouring rain, 6,000 people attended!! The second day, traffic to get into the fair grounds where the show was held, was significantly backed up in both directions with cars waiting to get in. Crowds of people.

Very soon upon gaining entrance to the show, I realized this gigantic show was mainly flea market. There were booths selling home made soaps, Harley -Davidson tee shirts, lousy chochkahs, etc. The peace of a Sunday morning was shattered by a space devoted to making chain saw sculptures (how many of those damn bears and Native American caricature chiefs are needed?). There were some selling nice collectibles (I do like advertising), and what I consider genuine antiques.

The flea market type booths selling inexpensive stuff were packed. I met quite a few dealers I know and have done shows with. All sell what I would consider real antiques. And not just at "if you have to ask the price you can't afford it" prices. They are eople who love the stuff and are willing to talk about it to anyone who is interested. No snobbery, arrogance. Amongst those whom I met who were set up for the show, all but one were rather despondent. Their booths were empty of shoppers. Essentially no sales. Some did note sales to other dealers but none to retail. They reported a litany of familiar respected names whom, between the weather and in some instances, the proximity of the distracting endless loud noise of a chain saw, bugged out early the first day. I speak from experience. Nothing is more demoralizing then crowds of people just walking past your space.

The moral of this droning is that I see many obvious parallels to the clock market.

By the way, I did buy a very nice earlier Chelsea ships' bell shelf clock that runs like a top at I think a great price. The seller commented that over the 1 1/2 days he was there (he drove up from NJ for this), I was the ONLY one to look at it and show interest! And it was much cheaper than the garish reproduction neon advertising clocks, repop clocks and other horological material etc. on the field.

RM
 
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Schatznut

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Again, I see clock collecting as one aspect of the antiques market, somewhat sadly reflected in this past weekend's experience.

This past Saturday and Sunday, there was a gigantic 2 day outdoor/indoor show in Deerfield, NH. It was the inaugural show. It was meant as something of a replacement of the Spring Brimfield shows which this year occurred in a very much reduced form (only 1 field opened).

The weather up here this weekend was atrocious. 41 degrees (Fahrenheit) and relentless downpours. I did not attend the first day, but did the morning of the second as the rain stopped between about 9 AM to about 1 PM. Still in the 40's.

The first day, in the pouring rain, 6,000 people attended!! The second day, traffic to get into the fair grounds where the show was held, was significantly backed up in both directions with cars waiting to get in. Crowds of people.

Very soon upon gaining entrance to the show, I realized this gigantic show was mainly flea market. There were booths selling home made soaps, Harley -Davidson tee shirts, lousy chochkahs, etc. The peace of a Sunday morning was shattered by a space devoted to making chain saw sculptures (how many of those damn bears and Native American caricature chiefs are needed?). There were some selling nice collectibles (I do like advertising), and what I consider genuine antiques.

The flea market type booths selling inexpensive stuff were packed. I met quite a few dealers I know and have done shows with. All sell what I would consider real antiques. And not just at "if you have to ask the price you can't afford it" prices. They are eople who love the stuff and are willing to talk about it to anyone who is interested. No snobbery, arrogance. Amongst those whom I met who were set up for the show, all but one were rather despondent. Their booths were empty of shoppers. Essentially no sales. Some did note sales to other dealers but none to retail. They reported a litany of familiar respected names whom, between the weather and in some instances, the proximity of the distracting endless loud noise of a chain saw, bugged out early the first day. I speak from experience. Nothing is more demoralizing then crowds of people just walking past your space.

The moral of this droning is that I see many obvious parallels to the clock market.

By the way, I did buy a very nice earlier Chelsea ships' bell shelf clock that runs like a top at I think a great price. The seller commented that over the 1 1/2 days he was there (he drove up from NJ for this), I was the ONLY one to look at it and show interest! And it was much cheaper than the garish reproduction neon advertising clocks, repop clocks and other horological material etc. on the field.

RM
As usual, you tell a great visual story, RM. Sounds depressing. The only thing that would be worse would be not having it at all. The best analog we can come up with here in Southern California is the swap meet held on the asphalt wilderness of the local drive-in theater. I've given up on those.
 

Jim DuBois

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One of our local collectors and former clock dealer has for many years sold a truckload of clocks or the preponderance of the truckload at every show. He did a local show/mart 2 weeks ago. His gross sales? $2. That is it, $2. I have been with him when we sold 73 out of 78 kitchen clocks in 4 hours, or sold 175 modern movement takeouts before the show opened. He always has saleable stuff, sometimes it is far better than others. But, he knows what sells and at what price to ask....except for when what we have learned from buying and selling in a half-century doesn't work.

At another point of reference, there have been some clocks surface at auction that I was interested in. I left what I thought to be some strong bids. I wasn't even close. Not even a 3rd or 4th underbidder. One recent auction had some very nice clocks, one bidder spent over $600,000 and he was an "International bidder" on the phone. So, there is life, but not so much in what I like, unless I am trying to buy it? Sell it? Hmm, different problem.
 

Bruce Alexander

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Clocks seldom make it onto "Antiques Roadshow" but antique furniture seems to consistently depreciate while art most often seems to do well. Clocks are kind of a combination of both with no real useful purpose in comparison to modern technology. Maybe it's not too late for me to start collecting pocket watches...at least they don't take up much space. :)
 

rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

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As usual, you tell a great visual story, RM. Sounds depressing. The only thing that would be worse would be not having it at all. The best analog we can come up with here in Southern California is the swap meet held on the asphalt wilderness of the local drive-in theater. I've given up on those.
Yes, it was fun after all.

Finding that nice Chelsea and having the opportunity to speak with folks....in person, not "virtually"....was the best part.

By the way, MA has lifted most of the "mandates" re: Covid 19 including the mask requirement except for certain instances. I'm still wearing mine even though fully immunized. I just don't trust that virus. I'm also concerned about the "variants" and "hybrids" popping up and that we may be in for a surprise.

RM
 

Ticktocktime100

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An interesting question, which I have asked myself multiple times. It is most educational to hear the perspective of others. I’m at the younger end of the age spectrum (20) and believe, while I may be somewhat naïve in view of the current state of the market and so on, that the future for collecting and repair can be very bright indeed - if initiatives are taken.
I think educating people on the subject of both clock repair and collecting is extremely important. Personally, I would probably not know the first thing about clocks if my grandfather, who is fortunately still living, hadn’t taught me everything he knows about all things horological. This inspired me to do a great deal of research on my own, and also led me to the remarkable community that is the NAWCC. I realise, however, how fortunate I am to have been given an introduction which many have not and the importance of the knowledge passed on to me.
I also think there are different ways in which to educate - a number of people will be drawn to clocks in need of care as mechanical projects, as many have pointed out before, but may remain mere hobbyists rather than collectors. This is perfectly fine, but in my view it is either because they will come to acquire clocks of no particular value or because they aren’t in a position to realise the multiple implications of horology as a historical subject, science and art, nor the magnitude and necessity of preserving the technical, artistic heritage that are fine clocks, which are always out there to be rediscovered and restored.

Furthermore, through the question of education arises that of publicity, which plays a big educational and naturally commercial, role. Watches are publicised constantly and have widespread appeal as elegant timepieces, status symbols and quite simply valuable objects. Clocks have never been depicted as such and have remained somewhat in the shadows, for the benefit of enlightened collectors. If books are be published, if auctions could are organized, if the public is made aware of the fact that marvelous clocks are out there, there is room for change. But this also means that all collectors have to be forthcoming with information for the novice, which fortunately many are, but still too few. It sometimes seems a big ask as it can mean that in time a collector’s knowledge will not be specific to him and will become more common, making it perhaps a bit more difficult to keep a « sleeper » quiet. But I feel it is a necessary step for the greater good of horology. The more informed people are, the more interest and commercial appeal there will be.
The NAWCC has chapters all over the US and has prospered internationally through this fine message board, although still too few people know about it and it has no equivalent elsewhere in the world. This perfectly illustrates the need and benefits exposure, like with anything else.

These are just a few ideas I’m putting out there. Personally, I just satisfy myself by making the biggest contribution I can and by building up both my collection and knowledge in the hope that things will change in the future and that all the right information can be put at the disposal of the present generation as well as those to come.

Best regards to all,

JJ
 

new2clocks

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But I think the early 2000's were a bubble. People were using the internet on an ever increasing scale. There was a general feeling of excitement. Prices were high, but looking back I think people (collectors) felt enthusiasm and optimism having all these things available at their fingertips, that previously couldn't be found in their region or perhaps took a lifetime to find.
I think what we see today is more "real" than before the real estate bubble.
Interesting and valid thoughts.

I will add what I call the "Antiques Roadshow Effect", where people believe everything that is old has great value. The AR Effect, I believe, still exists, as evidenced by the amount of value requests, or, more subtly, the "Is this rare?" requests we see on these forums every day. What people do not realize is an object can be as "rare" as an uncooked piece of steak, but if there is little demand for the object, the value will be low.

Regards.
 

new2clocks

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I'm still wearing mine even though fully immunized. I just don't trust that virus. I'm also concerned about the "variants" and "hybrids" popping up and that we may be in for a surprise.
Wholeheartedly agree, RM.

The reaction to Covid was revolutionary, as it had to be.

Now that significant progress has been made (vaccines), the return to "normalcy" should be evolutionary.

Everything about Covid is still too new to declare victory.

Regards.
 

S_Owsley

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......
I like them as the intersection of physics, mechanics and art.
.....
I'd just like to repeat what Bruce said earlier in the thread. His sentiments mirror mine. I don't know what will happen in the future as regards to the hobby, but I can certainly appreciate my clocks for what they represent. I don't look on them as an investment as much as something that gives me great personal satisfaction. The intersection of physics, mechanics and art hits my sweet spot. They keep me mentally engaged and my fondest wish is that they find appreciative owners after I'm gone. With every passing year, we lose a lot of accumulated knowledge, and that makes me sad. Hopefully much of that will live on in this forum to be passed down to future collectors.
 

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