Not a clock but a fine mechanical timekeeper by Wittner

A couple of months ago I was in an antique shop and in two places within the shop were metronomes. Both were in pretty rough shape and missing too many parts and one was not even working at all. That, and the prices were high. I continued my search for a metronome and I was confident I could find one.

What is a metronome? A metronome is a practice tool that produces a steady pulse (or beat) to help musicians play rhythms accurately. Some come with a bell. In music terms the bell is to keep track of the beginnings of measures.

Wittner series 800 metronome

Is a metronome necessary for clock repair? No, but I can think of some uses such as determining the BPM of a pendulum plus I have always been fascinated with them. It keeps a beat, has mechanical gearing and can be easily repaired by a clockmaker.

Recently I found another at a different shop at a price that cried: “take me”.

It is not perfect, there are a couple of issues but it works, has a bell, the case is in far better condition and it was reasonably priced, unlike the other two. A stamp inside says 1067 which I surmise is October 1967, the date of manufacture.

The door is meant to be taken off. The metronome functions perfectly

It is missing the pull-out knob for the bell and the winding key. I am pretty sure the screw end of the mainspring arbour where the key attaches is broken off as well. So, not without problems.

Since this a Wittner metronome and Wittner, a German company that still makes a similar 800 series metronome I decided to visit their site to see if I could purchase the parts. The company has been in business since 1895 and they are considered one of the most respected names in metronomes.

I described what I needed; a complete one-piece mainspring housing and a winding key. They wrote back to say they would send the parts free of charge which I thought was odd since I had not yet given them an address, but I quickly followed up with address details.

Once the email was sent I realized I should have mentioned the missing pull-out knob for the bell. In the meantime, the only way I can make it run is to remove the bottom tin panel and wind it with a pair of pliers.

2 weeks later a package arrives

Two weeks later a package arrives in the mail with the parts I requested and as a bonus, they were free. In the package was a mainspring housing complete with old locking spring (not sure what “old” means, perhaps NOS, new old stock) and a screw-on winding key.

The spring barrel is plastic (as expected) but the replacement has an enclosed mainspring rather than open in the one I have but it appears to be a sturdier design. When wound the action is smooth, not the ratchet sound of a clock movement.

mainspring housing and winding key installed

If you have ever worked on clock movements, swapping out parts on a metronome is pretty simple.

A tin panel underneath protects the mechanism. Loosen two screws and the panel comes off. The mechanism is secured by 4 screws. After unscrewing, pull the assembly out. Once out, unscrew the side bridge. Finally, two C-type washers must be pried off to release the mainspring arbour. Out comes the old mainspring arbour and in goes the new. Just like that! While I was at it I cleaned the pivots and pivot holes and oiled the mechanism with Keystone clock oil.

I am very impressed with a company that supports its products even if the product is over 40 years old. Now, about that pull knob for the bell.

The knob is the top of a finial

Well, rather than than requesting another part I fashioned a pull-out knob out of the tip of a spare finial. I then drilled a hole and, since it is threaded, screwed it in place. It is more aesthetic than functional since I may never use the bell function.

The metronome works perfectly. A very satisfying acquisition and thanks to Wittner for their outstanding after sales support of a product.