Junghans bracket clock – cleaning a silvered dial and brass accents

Lately, I have been working on a stately bracket clock by Junghans from the latter part of 1911. I love the look of this clock though some would say it is quite plain.

Junghans mantel clock on display on the day it was bought

The Regency style veneered mahogany case of this time and strike bracket clock is in reasonably good condition save for a small piece of veneer missing on the right side of the base and replacement chrome feet which look decidedly out of place.

I had completed servicing the movement a while back but also planned to address both the case and the dial as part of the rejuvenation of this clock.

After a thorough cleaning (and scrubbing) with Murphy’s soap, I freshened up the case followed by three coats of shellac.

The top of the clock looked good after a cleaning

Cleaning the dial

Silvered dials present a somewhat more challenging problem than zinc painted or paper dials. The silvering is very thin and can be rubbed off easily through over-aggressive cleaning resulting in a damaged finish so, it pays to be cautious.

Here is a prime example of a German U.M. Muller wall clock dial where someone used a strong cleaner resulting in a serious blemish. The dial must be completely restored. I have no plan to fix it.

U M Muller clock dial
U M Muller clock dial, damage between the numbers 6 and 7

Of course, there is the option of leaving this dial as-is but why not attempt a cleaning. As this is a non-porous dial, dirt is surfaced based.

Junghans clock dial
Junghans clock dial and the extent of the dirt and grime

From my research, many methods of dirt removal seemed dubious and any kind of chemical on a silvered dial is plain wrong. I chose to use mild (diluted) liquid soap and Q-tips to lift off the grime. While it took dozens of Q-Tips dipped in soapy water and gentle scrubbing in the direction of the spun dial most of the dirt was removed and none of the silvering was damaged. It is difficult to see any improvement as one proceeds so, it pays to be patient. After a couple of hour’s work of gentle rubbing, this is the end result.

Junghans clock dial after cleaning
Junghans clock dial after cleaning

While not perfect it is much improved. The aged look remains, with a patina that most would consider acceptable. Following the cleaning, where there was missing paint on the numerals, they were filled in with black acrylic paint. No further restoration is necessary.

Junghans clock project is finished
Junghans clock project is almost finished but for the lower brass features

Brass features

Next are brass features above the base section. Q-tips (many of them) and Brasso (Simichrome works well too) are perfect for bringing up the shine. Following the polishing, everything is wiped clean with soap and water and the inset panels are given a fresh coat of shellac.

The carrying handle on top was also cleaned with Brasso.

Junghans Corner feet finished
Junghans Cbracket style clock

Dial work and case cleaning are options when bringing any clock back to life but it boils down to personal choice. Some choose to leave things as they are to retain the original patina but I am in the camp that a little cleaning goes a long way. Cleaning takes time and patience, however. You may not see the results immediately but work carefully and you will be amply rewarded.

You may have noticed that the feet are different in the last photo but I will save that story for another day.

4 thoughts on “Junghans bracket clock – cleaning a silvered dial and brass accents

  1. Ron, hi. Hugh here from http://www.theclock-shop.co.uk here in the UK. What a brilliant job you have made of the cleaning the dial. I just wish I had read the blog before starting work on the mantel clock I am currently trying to reunite with its original owner’s family. Too vigorous a clean resulted in my removing parts of the numerals, adding another task to the clocking job list.

    I love your blog – so informative and accessible. Thanks for writing and sharing it.

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