watchmaker's regulators

Larry Lawton

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Nov 13, 2020
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Where could I find a watchmaker's regulator? How accurate are they, and what should I look for in such a clock, and what would be the expected price?
 

lpbp

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It really depends on what you want it for, how accurate, and your budget.
 

gleber

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Regulators tend to be pricey, but there is a wide range of regulators and so you can expect a wide range of prices. Have you narrowed it down any - case style - wall or standing, country of origin, timeframe of manufacture, specific features?

If you simply want an accurate time for setting clocks or watches, there are internet sites. I use: Time.is - exact time, any time zone (nice big display of the time to the second with an indication of the latency (time delay) to your computer to the millisecond.

If you want a regulator so you can enjoy the satisfaction of dialing it in to serve as your personal standard time, then I think you should do some Google or message board searches. Caution, a lot of clocks used stencils on their glass or dial that say "Regulator." Generally, that was a marketing ploy and does not confer regulator quality. A true regulator will have many features that are designed to improve accuracy and precision, not just a decal. There are several threads here where some of those qualities/features are discussed. If you plan to spend money on a true regulator, I would definitely do research. We're here to help teach people to fish, not fish for you. I don't mean that in a condescending way, but a quick search will get you started and then come back with specific questions.

Tom
 

bruce linde

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I have three jewelers regulators, one with a mercury pendulum. i also have more than a few seconds bearing time only wall clocks. They can still be off by a couple of seconds over a week or two, despite regulating them every week when i wind them. usually it’s temperature fluctuations, but sometimes maybe barometric pressure... who knows?

i use time.is, like gleber. easy to get to on my mobile devices, or big screen for the clocks in my office.

now... the real question is: what does need have to do with it?!?!? 8 -)

go out and get yourself an awesome regulator because you want one... and deserve one.
 

Vernon

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I see most (jewelers) regulators for sale at auction sites. They can go anywhere from a couple of thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. They will be time only, seconds beat, weight driven, dead beat escapement, maintaining power and pendulum.
 

TJ Cornish

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I collect clocks and watches and read the article about the regulator. I would like to get an accurate clock to set my watches and clocks by. Problem is, how much would they cost?
Hi Larry. I also like large jeweler's regulators. I have 3 1/2 of them - two pinwheel, and two deadbeat, with the 1/2 referring to a clock that has a jeweler's regulator-quality movement in a fairly pedestrian case.

If you don't already have it, American Clocks Volume 1 by Tran Duy Ly (arlingtonbooks.com) has pictures of many of them. They range from about 7' tall to 9' tall. Some are floor standing, and some wall hanging; I have two of each. I have a hanging Gilbert 20 that is about 7' tall but since it's hanging really likes a 9' wall. Bruce and I both have a Waterbury 8 which stands at about 100" tall, and I have another one that's about 90" tall.

My advice would be to page through the book I mentioned and see what you like. Then start googling the name of the clock. You will find auction houses that will have records of past sales that will give you some idea of the cost of each and how likely they are to hit the market. FWIW, I paid $2500 - $3500 ea for 3 of mine and quite a bit more for the fourth one which was extra special. Cosmetic and operating condition of course affect the price. The good news is they are pretty simple clocks and are likely to be fairly easily repairable.

Your local NAWCC chapter would be a great resource for a geographically-convenient supply of clocks. I think it's highly likely that there would be a NAWCC member or two with something they would sell you that might be what you're looking for.

As to clock accuracy - I have one clock with a pinwheel regulator and mercury pendulum, which on paper should be my best time keeper. I'd be hard pressed to say it is: my other high-quality seconds-beat regulators are about the same, and they each take turns needing the least amount of correction on winding day. On a good week, I like to see my high precision clocks about 5 seconds fast, which means I can correct them by holding the pendulum for a few seconds until the real time catches up with what my clock said. Slow is no bueno - that means stopping the clock, setting it a minute ahead, and waiting for time to come around to where your second hand is. Many weeks I hit my +5 seconds/week target; sometimes I don't. My "1/2 Jeweler's regulator" has a wooden pendulum rod. Most of the time it is every bit as good as the metal pendulum rods on my other clocks; this past week something must have happened with the humidity because out of the blue that clock was 40 seconds fast this week.

This is a little bit like Rolex's "superlative chronometer" - you pay 5 figures for a watch that is still in spec if it gains or looses 14 seconds/week when you can get a quartz watch from Target that will outperform the Rolex. By all means get a (or more than one) jeweler's regulator - they are beautiful and fine clocks, but I think you will find that you will still need to tweak.
 
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