Clocks of Cuba

During two vacation trips to Cuba in the last 4 months I managed to locate a few clocks in my travels. Though some clocks were very intriguing none that I saw save for the tower clocks were in working condition. Nonetheless it made me wonder about their provenance in a land that time seemingly forgot.

At Christmas time my family and I traveled to Trinidad of Cuba. We stayed overnight at Los Helechos Hotel in Topes de Collantes which is located about a half an hour bus ride from Trinidad of Cuba. The next day we spend our time exploring the wonders of Trinidad of Cuba.

I saw some interesting clocks in a couple of restaurants. The first is a Wm L. Gilbert time and strike wall clock with calendar dial from Winsted Conn., USA. It looked like a reasonably well preserved dark walnut regulator clock with an 8-day brass movement with pressed features dating to about the 1900s.

wall clock
Wm L. Gilbert clock found in a restaurant

The next is unknown to me. It is a Spanish clock. Whether or not Malaprade is the maker was difficult to determine as I could find no information on the internet. However, it is clear that this spring wound time-only clock with second hand feature was made in Barcelona. I would date it to pre-1930. It is a relatively short clock and might have been originally designed as a wall mounted clock as it stands less than 5 feet tall. I am not sure what the area around and below the keyhole represents. I cannot make out any sort of design if there is one.

Floor clock
Malaprade Floor or wall clock

Next is a floor clock. Again the maker is unknown. I do not see any winding arbors on the dial face and can only assume that it is weight driven (the weight was not attached) and that the weight (or weights) were pulled up by chain to reset the clock likely once every 8 days. This clock was clearly in meed of restoration as were most of the clocks that I saw.

Floor clock
Floor clock of unknown maker

In March we stayed at the Paradisus Rio de Oro in Holguin province located on Playa Esmeraldo near Guardelavaca. The resort is set on a beach next to Bahía de Naranjo Natural Park. In it are a number of interesting clocks.

Lobby clocks
Time only lobby clocks

There were a total of 4 of these lobby clocks which were originally intended to display time zones for the guests. They are time-only and the cases appeared to be in good shape but I do not think they have been running for quite a while. My thought is that there is nobody at the resort tasked with the responsibility of maintaining these and other fine clocks.

face of clock
Face of unknown floor clock, second hand is missing
RS Tall case clock (2)
Unknown floor clock

This clock actually works though it needs servicing. It is located in an ante-chamber adjacent to a Mediterranean themed restaurant. I opened the front door of the clock and found the rod gong impeding the pendulum. Once I dislodged the gong the clock happily began to function and it was in beat, surprisingly. Although it had two weights there were three winding arbors and I would be curious to see the internal workings of that movement. Inside the door was an official seal from the Ministerio de Cultura.

400 day clock
400 day clock

This 400 day clock was made in Germany. There were no other markings that I could determine. It could be a Kundo Kieninger & Obergfell dating to about the 1940s or so but that is just a guess. It needs a thorough servicing and clearly it has been neglected for some time.

Carriage style clock
Carriage or wall mounted clock

This is another an anniversary mantel clock but it appears to have a wall mounting bracket on the rear. Not sure why as these clocks are not meant for wall mounting. Again, an unknown maker but possibly German and in very poor condition. The front glass looks like it can be lifted up for adjustment purposes.

Clock in a peasants home

While hiking through El Cubana National Forest we came across a small dwelling and we were able to briefly tour inside. In it I found an old quartz clock dating from the 1980s or earlier.

Tower clock
Tower clock at Peublo La Estrella tourist village
Tower clock
Tower clock in Holguin

The first tower clock is located in a tourist village in Cayo Santa Maria called Peublo la Estralla while the next is in a downtown principle square in the city of Holguin. The Olvera clock is a modern electric clock and I am assuming that the tower clock in Holguin might also be electric.

I am told that my next stop in Cuba (another time) should be the Paladar Decameron restaurant in Havana, a fixture in the paladar scene that’s located in the leafy residential district of Vedado. The restaurant is said to said have an old world charm with a collection of various collectibles including antique clocks of all shapes and sizes.

Cuba is a fascinating country and certainly worth exploring time and time again.

2 thoughts on “Clocks of Cuba

  1. The first two clocks are the most interesting to me. The Gilbert looks fairly standard (often called a “Store Regulator”) but I think it’s been painted black. Normally these are in oak cases, occasionally (but rarely) in walnut. The colour would have matched the interior back.

    The second clock looks like a fine and expensive Jeweler’s Pinwheel Regulator. I’m wondering if you’re wrong about it being spring driven. These are normally always weight driven. The weight normally hangs behind the pendulum. Is it possible you didn’t see the weight? The movements from these are almost always Swiss made (near the Jura region of France), with pinwheel escapements. They are VERY EXPENSIVE clocks. The movement alone would fetch around 1000$. I have no idea what that circle is on the dial. I’ve seen some with inlaid marble dials, but most have enameled dials like this one. Cases can range from plain to extremely elaborate, and from 5 feet to 9-10 feet.

    The name and place on the dial is the retailer where the clock was sold. It is never the manufacturer (this is typical on all French and some Swiss clocks of this type/vintage – the same is true of Comtoise clocks and French mantle clocks).

    The rest of the clocks (with the exception of the 2 figure 8 wall clocks) seem to be imported German clocks from 1930 and later. These include both tall clocks and all the 400 day clocks shown. The figure 8 clocks are either American or Asian made copies (likely from Japan) from the early 1900s.


    1. Hi JC. Thanks for coming to my blog. In many cases I did not have much time to examine the clocks if at all. In the case of the regulator it was simply snap a quick photo, make a few mental notes and run. Well not literally run but I had to be quick.Just the same they are all fascinating but sadly in various states of disrepair.



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