Solar time and strike mantel clock by Eatons – first look

This is the first look at a diminutive mantel clock sold by T. Eaton & Co. in the 1960s.

Solar mantel clock
Solar mantel clock

Eaton’s was a Canadian department store chain that was once Canada’s largest. It was founded in 1869 in Toronto by Timothy Eaton an immigrant from Ireland. Eaton’s grew to become a retail and social institution in Canada, with stores across the country, and a mail-order catalog that was found in the homes of most Canadians.

A changing economic and retail environment in the late 1990s, along with mismanagement, culminated in the chain’s dissolution in 1999. As a young child, I remember pouring through the Eatons “Christmas Wish Book” trying to decide on that perfect gift….for me!

Eatons catalog
1975 Eaton’s catalogue, page 184, clocks (Online image: Fair Use; for information purposes only)

Eaton’s catalogue, as well as department stores spread across Canada, sold a variety of clocks including this Hermle mantel clock under their house brand, Solar. Many of the Solar clocks sold from the 1950s through to the 1980s survive in Canadian homes to this day.

This example,a time and strike mantel clock with a 6″ dial and dark walnut case that would have been around $50 or $60 when new. At about 13” wide by 7” high by and 4” deep it is not a very large clock and would fit just about anywhere in a home where space is at a premium.

It has a type 141 German movement from Hermle with a recoil escapement and 11cm pendulum and 200.8 bpm. It is a half-hour strike on a bell but not the prettiest sound for a mantel clock. As a testament to its design and durability, the type 141 is still being produced by Hermle GmbH & Co. KG today.

It also came with instructions and a product card from Eatons.

Solar Hermle movement
Solar with type 141 Hermle movement (trademark FHS), (beat amplifier attached)

It was not a running clock when I bought it and I hoped that a good cleaning would set things right. Judging from scratches on the backplate of the movement it has been worked on in the past. I won’t see the extent of previous service work until I take the movement out of its case and examine it more closely. My only fear is plated pivots which were the bane of Hermle clocks from the late 1970s to the late 1980s. I have a good feeling this clock predates that period.

The case, on the other hand, is in near perfect condition.

It will be serviced and put up for sale. I am not normally in the business of selling clocks but will sell the odd one locally to trim my collection and cover clock supplies.

Look for an upcoming blog article on the servicing of the Hermle movement.