Why so heavy mantel clock?

Elliott Wolin

NAWCC Member
Nov 18, 2019
417
65
28
67
Williamsburg, Virginia
Country
Region
Just purchased this black slate or marble mantel clock. It weighs a ton ( ok, maybe 40 lbs). Why did they make these clocks so heavy? I'm not sure our mantel can take the weight!

Also any information about this clock would be appreciated, so far I've done nothing but start the pendulum, it runs for a minute or less.

20201218_181524.jpg
 

jmclaugh

Registered User
Jun 1, 2006
5,370
252
83
Devon
Country
Region
They were made because they were in fashion and once installed they were unlikely to be moved and afaik there were no widespread reports of mantelpieces giving way. I'd say this clock is early 20th C. As to only running a minute or less it is very likely out of beat and that's not the easiest of clocks to fix that in but well worth doing.

Meanwhile I'm wondering what would be my favourite Xmas song which might go..all I want for Christmas is a clock.
 
Last edited:

Elliott Wolin

NAWCC Member
Nov 18, 2019
417
65
28
67
Williamsburg, Virginia
Country
Region
Yes, it is likely out of beat, and it's dirty as well. I don't think it has run in a while, something about their grandfather was the last one to get it to work. Further, the dial is rotated somewhat, perhaps indicating the movement is as well.

Unfortunately there are a few other clocks in the queue ahead of this one so it may be a while before I can get to it.

Is it French?
 

jmclaugh

Registered User
Jun 1, 2006
5,370
252
83
Devon
Country
Region
Yes, it is likely out of beat, and it's dirty as well. I don't think it has run in a while, something about their grandfather was the last one to get it to work. Further, the dial is rotated somewhat, perhaps indicating the movement is as well.

Unfortunately there are a few other clocks in the queue ahead of this one so it may be a while before I can get to it.

Is it French?
The easiest method I've found of setting these clocks in beat is, assuming them have them, to loosen the holding screws at the back very slightly just so you can rotate the dial but not easily from the front. Once done just remember to hold the bezel firmly when you wind it. That may expalin why the dial on this one is rotated. However it sounds like it needs a service.

As to French I'm happy to be convinced.
 

Elliott Wolin

NAWCC Member
Nov 18, 2019
417
65
28
67
Williamsburg, Virginia
Country
Region
On the back of the movement I see an anchor with B on the left and N on the right. Also "Medaille De Bronze" surrounding "S. Marti" (the S could be an L). Also the number 2855. There are fainter marks but I'd have to take the movement out to see them better.

French it seems, more information will be appreciated.

20201220_181522.jpg

 

jmclaugh

Registered User
Jun 1, 2006
5,370
252
83
Devon
Country
Region
Yes French, Samuel Marti is the maker of the movement, the bronze medal dates to 1860 and as the firm was awarded a silver mdeal in 1889 and a gold in 1900 it is not unreasonable to assume they would use the most prestigious award and that the clock dates to before then. That bronze mark is often found on these movements though sadly there appears to be limited information on the company. The anchor B N logo imo is that of a finisher.
 

svenedin

NAWCC Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,264
237
63
Surrey
Country
Region
Unfortunately they are just incredibly heavy due to the material they are made from. I was concerned about my mantel too but it is fine. It took 3 of us to lift mine into place but it is a huge beast. Once set up there is no need to move it as there is a Brocot adjuster on the dial for regulation. A good book is “The French Marble Clock” by Nicholas Thorpe. You can, if you wish, get that case clean and the marble black and shiny again. An ideal time is when the movement is out for overhauling. There is excellent information in Thorpe’s book on the restoration of movements and cases of these clocks. In fact, it is a very useful book for any of the Roulant de Paris movements as they were used in many types of clock.
 
Last edited:

Burkhard Rasch

NAWCC Member
Jun 1, 2007
4,949
219
63
65
Twistringen
Country
Region
the movement is tilt; setting it upright might solve the problem (at first)
A professional cleaning and lubing is recommended sooner or later.
A verry nice clock! When You move it please support it from underneath , not grabbing under the top panel and lifting it: the case might come appart due to its weight!
Burkhard
 
  • Like
Reactions: svenedin

svenedin

NAWCC Member
Jan 28, 2010
1,264
237
63
Surrey
Country
Region
the movement is tilt; setting it upright might solve the problem (at first)
A professional cleaning and lubing is recommended sooner or later.
A verry nice clock! When You move it please support it from underneath , not grabbing under the top panel and lifting it: the case might come appart due to its weight!
Burkhard
I didn’t notice that Burkhard. You’re right! The movement is rotatated. To correct this, loosen the straps that hold the movement in place and rotate the movement until it is in beat. Then tighten the straps back up.
 

Betzel

NAWCC Member
Dec 1, 2010
429
76
28
Country
Region
Wow, very cool. I did not know clocks could ever be that heavy. Is the gong look original, or was there once a bell? The hammer arm looks like it has been adjusted "a few" times and then soldered to make up for it, but that's not a big deal. Maybe the gong was adapted for the case by the casemaker.

So for a rough date? 1870's?
 

JTD

Registered User
Sep 27, 2005
8,849
779
113
Country
Is the gong look original, or was there once a bell?
I think the gong is original. Apart from anything else, the movement has no bell stand. Gongs are often seen in this sort of clock.

JTD
 
  • Like
Reactions: Betzel

Elliott Wolin

NAWCC Member
Nov 18, 2019
417
65
28
67
Williamsburg, Virginia
Country
Region
Unfortunately, not visible in the pictures are two large cracks. One on top as if someone lifted the clock using the top of the sides and a "wing" cracked off. The other is in a lower corner, as if someone dropped it. The broken pieces were glued back on, except for a small corner that must have disintegrated when it was dropped (if this actually happened).

When I get to it (many clocks ahead of this one!) I hope so do something to hide the cracks, and perhaps even repair the broken off corner, but I'm not sure how to do this.
 

Cheezhead

Registered User
Dec 30, 2010
203
19
18
Wisconsin
Country
Region
In reply to your question: "Why did they make these clocks so heavy?" I offer another view.

A designer may want to equate heavy weight with high quality and luxury. With that in mind an old maxim is as follows: "The job of an engineer is to do the most with the least" but that is not always done and results in no harm especially with a low production clock with more profit from each instead of less profit from each from many clocks produced.

Heavy clock examples are your clock, full size Schatz 400 day clocks, and my small but heavy 4 lb. (1.8 kg) Swiza alarm clock made of enormously thick, solid brass pieces as per my post # 46 in the "Post your quartz clock matters here" thread in the Electric Horology section.

It may have been possible for your clock to be built of thinner material to save raw material cost, to save packing and shipping costs and to make it easier to handle but those were not higher priorities intended by the clockmaker.
 
Last edited:

Les harland

Registered User
Apr 10, 2008
1,649
169
63
Hertfordshire England
Country
Region
Going slightly off topic cast iron has also been fashionable material for clock cases
It is almost as heavy as marble
 

Forum statistics

Threads
167,105
Messages
1,456,181
Members
87,308
Latest member
Ksaylor
Encyclopedia Pages
1,057
Total wiki contributions
2,914
Last edit
E. Howard & Co. by Clint Geller