Finding a repairperson for your mechanical clock

The past year will be remembered for many years. It was a very trying time for many of us but in the midst of the pandemic, there are positives. It was a time of reflection and a time that reminded folks of a past when life was simpler. More and more people have become interested in hobbies and perhaps collecting antiques in general or antique clocks in particular.

Seth Thomas adamantine mantel clock, C.1909

Perhaps you received a clock as a gift, inherited one, picked one up at an antique store, found a clock online that needs work or discovered that very rare clock that requires a little TLC to run perfectly and you want to have it running just like the good old days.

Junghans Corner feet finished
Junghans Sydney bracket clock C.1911

Two options

Basically, you have two options.

  1. Try to fix the clock yourself, or,
  2. Find someone to put the clock in working order.

Even if you bought a working clock, eventually it will stop running and it will require cleaning at the very least or major repairs if it is very worn.

You might attempt to fix a non-working clock yourself. With basic tools, you might get lucky with the repair of simple, cheap movements but eventually, you will require a professional. Working on clocks requires a certain skill set and plenty of patience. It takes years to attain a level of expertise not to mention the specialized equipment required to work on the mechanisms. For any high-quality or rare clock, you may not trust yourself to work on it yourself and will need a reputable clock repair person to make it right.

Scottish tall case clock
McLachlan tall case clock, C.1848

It may come as no surprise that there are not as many people involved in the clock repair business today as there were years ago. Clockmakers are a dying occupation. Clock repair businesses are closing when owners retire as there are not enough young people to carry on the tradition. Plus, in the digital age do analogue clocks make sense!

Kienzle World Time clock
Kienzle World Time clock, C.1951

With so few skilled professionals left, finding a person to repair your clock requires time, effort, and research. At one time in my home province of Nova Scotia, there were a dozen repair shops operating in or near every major town. Today there are two reputable repair shops left and both are hours away from where I live. They perform excellent work but they are expensive, and why not, they provide an exclusive service.

Reputable clock repair shops have repair persons who have the necessary credentials to work on a wide variety of clocks. However, some repair shops have questionable work practices. How would you know? The Better Business Bureau is a good source to determine whether or not a business is in good standing. If a business is in good standing and has no complaints it is considered reputable according to BBB standards.

Local jewellers might advertise mechanical clock repair but very few have a certified repair person on site.

one-weight Vienna wall clock
Miniature one-weight Vienna wall clock, C.1870

A second source is the American-based National Association of Watch Clock Collectors business directory which lists reputable repair services in Canada, the United States, Austria, Singapore, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, or NAWCC, has over 175 chapters, mostly in the United States, that are devoted to the repair and restoration of clocks. Members of this organization range from interested beginners to dedicated horologists. Consumers and interested collectors can receive answers to many clock questions with a free registration on the NAWCC Forum site. Guidance and direction can be provided to those seeking a repair person in their local area.

Rare Ingraham Huron found on a local online for-sale site
Ingraham Huron shelf clock, C.1879

Those looking for a clock specialist in the UK should look for those individuals who have a membership in the Antiquarian Horological Society or AHS.

Contacting either of the above organizations or reading their publications will narrow down your choice of a clock repair specialist.

For those living in Germany, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Chronometrie. is an excellent resource.

Ingraham Grecian
Ingraham Grecian, C.1872

And finally, word of mouth. Connect with someone you know who works on clocks and watches and they likely will tell you not only where you can have your clock repaired but who is reputable and if the repair cost is reasonable.

Once you find that special clock person to repair your clock you can rest assured that it will be given the love and attention it deserves and take comfort in the fact that someone is available to look after your mechanical antique or vintage clock needs.