Philip Gore’s Tips for Antique Clock Maintenance

Philip Gore in the workshop

In today’s modern world, as we continue to move aspects of our lives from the analogue over to the digital, there exists also a sentimental desire to return to simpler origins. There are some commodities that remain treasured in their analogue formats, a primary example being clocks and timepieces. 

While functionality plays a large part in the collectability of clocks, there are other features that are desired when purchasing an antique clock, ranging from decoration of cases, condition, movements, and makers. Size is also important for some collectors who give preference to table, carriage, and bracket clocks, which occupy little room and are easily showcased on existing furniture or cabinetry. 

With the popularity of antique clocks on the rise, we paid a visit to the workshop of our antiquarian horologist Philip Gore, and asked him to share his top five tips on clock maintenance, drawing from his 40 years of experience handling and fixing clocks of all sizes and types.

 1. Wind, wind, wind
Consistency is key. Establish a regular winding pattern once a week
– regular as clockwork. Overwinding is an old wives’ tale! Wind it fully until the end and remember to rewind the next week.

A Louis XIV-Style Bracket Clock in the Martinot Manner / Sold for $7,500

2. Mind your movement
When redecorating, be mindful of moving your clock, as clocks are sensitive to shifts. If you must move the clock, it is strongly recommended that you remove the pendulum, which sits on a delicate suspension spring that can be damaged or broken if not handled correctly. Alternatively, for large and heavy clocks, it is recommended to have these moved and set up in the new location by a professional horologist.

3. Always move forwards
When setting the time, never wind the hands backwards – only forwards, stopping on hour, half hour, or quarter time where relevant to allow the clock to strike. This is crucial to avoid the clock going out of phrase and to avoid breaking the delicate hands.

 4. Trust the professionals
Professional maintenance is a must. Servicing is recommended as frequently as every five years, certainly no longer than ten. This keeps your clock in good order and ensures accurate timekeeping.

5. Location is key
Choose your clock location well. Veer towards mantelpieces or larger furniture and make sure it’s on a level and stable surface. Avoid small side tables and pianos, as the pendulum may stop moving if affected by vibrations and movement.

With thanks to Philip Gore for his time. 

November 2023

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