Junghans Crispi wall clock – from a clock-in-a-box to a clock that rocks!

This post describes the final detail work on my Junghans clock.

My winter (2017) project was an antique German Junghans Crispi time and strike spring driven wall clock made in the style of a Vienna Regulator. It was manufactured in Schwenningen, Germany in 1899. It came to me as a box of parts. To some a box of clock parts and pieces is discouraging but to me it was the challenge I was waiting for.

A clock in a box, how it came to me originally
A clock in a box, how it came

I wrote a multi-part series on the restoration of this clock. Use the search feature on this site to find past articles. I discovered this antique clock from a seller on an online for-sale site in January (2017) and was intrigued with its incredible history as a survivor of the Halifax Explosion on Dec 6, 1917.

On the morning of 6 December 1917 the SS Mont Blanc a French cargo ship laden with high explosives and Benzol collided with the Norwegian vessel SS Imo in the Narrows, a strait connecting the upper Halifax harbour to Bedford Basin. A fire on board the French ship ignited her cargo, causing a large explosion that devastated the Richmond District of Halifax. Approximately 2,000 people were killed by blast, debris, fires and collapsed buildings, and an estimated 9,000 others were injured……and a Junghans clock fell off the wall in a house on Princess court, North End Halifax

At first I was not sure how far I would go with this project but I decided I must go all the way towards restoring this clock to its former 19th century glory.

Most of the clock is original; the movement, the pendulum, coil gong and movement bracket as are the bottom base and top part of the case plus the crown, the backboard, the vertical columns and most of the decorative trim. What has been replaced is the box frame, the front piece that supports the right and left columns. I can only assume that parts of the clock were destroyed beyond repair on that fateful day.

Thirty years ago the previous owner used contemporary materials and techniques to reconstruct the frame and front piece. Although not authentic, I have no objection for two reasons; much of what he has done is unseen and care was taken to replicate period woodworking techniques to reconstruct the case except for the Robertson screws. During the restoration process I have added or in some cases made:

  • Front glass and 2 side glass panels,
  • 3 glass support rails,
  • 3 top replacement finals,
  • 2 newly constructed top finial bases,
  • 2 brass door hinges,
  • 2 brass door catches,
  • 2 brass case stabilizers,
  • 2 hardwood trim pieces and
  • 6 decorative buttons.
Original 1899 catalog image
Original 1899 catalog image

I disassembled the movement and in the process made two errors. In my attempt to re-position the star wheel paddle by bending it just a little bit, I managed to snap it off. Although I might have been able to fix it I do not have the tools, yet! I also managed to snap off the paddle wheel arbor spring which is essentially a thin steel rod. Again, I could have fixed it if I had the tools. As a result the strike side did not function. I cleaned and re-assembled the movement, got the movement running and thought, what is my next move?

Very dirty movement
Very dirty movement; after all it had not been running in years

I might have been content with a time-only clock but I decided that my mission was to have it fully restored. I decided to bring the clock to a horologist that I have used in the past. While it was in the shop, why not have it serviced completely. The horologist did a great job and when I picked it up she remarked that it was the first style of clock she had ever worked on.

What remains? There are two trim item on the left side just below one of the buttons as you can see in the photo below and a corner piece on the right side of the case in the same area.

Let’s see if my skill with router can address these issues.

Missing trim piece
Missing trim piece, not quite finished!

I took out my vintage Black & Decker router and managed to find the correct bit. Since it is a very small trim piece birch rather than oak would do. I made the measurements using my micrometer. The dimensions had to be precise in order to duplicate the trim piece exactly. I am very pleased with the result. Now for the right side.

Last trim piece, left bottom side
Last trim piece, left bottom side
matching trim pieces
matching trim pieces

I made a corner piece out of birch and glued it in place. In the next two photos you can see the very small piece that fits into the corner trim.

Corner piece is missing
Corner piece is missing
Hardwood replacement piece
Hardwood replacement piece
Corner piece is glued into place
Corner piece is glued into place

I am very pleased with the repair.

I posted a reference to this clock in one of my blogs and received a curious letter from someone who thought it was a Chinese clock. I fully understand the comment because the clock is so “blingy”. The many brass buttons and trim items might make one think that it was made in China. It simply reflects the Victorian era, a grand excess of ornament and an eclectic revival of historic styles mixed with middle east and Asian influences in furniture design. A Chinese clock? No, but an understandable error.

Garish Victorian excess but I like it!
Garish Victorian excess but I like it!

It is a clock that will be in our family for years to come

Was it worth the hours of toil and the money to bring this Victorian style clock back to its former glory? Absolutely, without question! The clock works perfectly. The coil gong on the hour and half hour sounds terrific and resonates throughout the house. Visitors to my home are immediately drawn to the clock because of its unique Victorian style. Indeed, it is a clock that will be in our family for years to come.

From a clock in a box to a clock that rocks.


7 thoughts on “Junghans Crispi wall clock – from a clock-in-a-box to a clock that rocks!

  1. hey! i’ve been searching for this clock for years and years. my grandfather has one exactly like it and i wasn’t able to find it anywhere.

    how can i get a value on this?

    please email me. thanks!


    1. Kero,

      Would you happen to have a photo of your grandfather’s Crispi? I’d love to see it as I have never seen another one. I value mine at about $500.



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