Finial replacement on a Junghans wall clock

In January 2017 I took a chance, plunked down $75 and bought a project clock which consisted of a box of clock parts.

Junghans clock in pieces
Junghans clock in pieces (notice bottom finial)

I took it home, stared at the box for a while trying to figure out what to do and how far I would get with this project. I itemized the parts, arranging them on the case as best I could and put together a plan. At least I had something to go on when someone sent me the actual catalog image of the clock.

The clock is called the Crispi by Junghans, Ca. 1899. Junghans is a reputable German clock-maker that made all styles of clocks for over 100 years in Germany and continues in the watch business to this day.

There are subtle differences between my clock and the clock in the catalog but to the untrained eye it looks much the same.

What I did not change at the time was the bottom centre finial. Most who are familiar with clock case design would agree that the bottom centre finial is actually one of the top crown finials and was re-positioned in a previous repair. I left it as-is as I went about restoring the rest of the clock.

After completing a number of other clock projects during the Pandemic as well as addressing an errant strike issue with this clock, I decided it was time to replace the finial with something more in keeping with the original design.

Here is the clock (next photo) when I finished with the case. That bottom centre finial always bothered me but, as I said, I let it be.

This is a clock that I took to a professional clockmaker to have repaired in the days when I did not have the skills to service a clock.

It worked well for about two years or more and then the strike side became very erratic. It would either strike incorrectly on the half hour or strike until the mainspring wound down. I cannot blame the repairer as these movements can be finicky to work on but my knowledge of clock repair has improved such that I can better diagnose and repair most clock issues today.

The problem was twofold. One, the paddle was not quite in the correct position in the deep slot of the count wheel at the end of the strike and the strike paddle ended the strike sequence by hanging off one of the star points of the strike wheel.

It took several attempts through trial and error but eventually I was victorious and the movement now strikes correctly.

Crispi clock back from the horologist
Top finial placed on the bottom by a past repairer

Now, let’s get back to the case. As you can see the clock had been returned to its former glory and is quite faithful to the original except for that bottom finial.

I chose a flat back unfinished 2 1/2″ by 2 3/4″ hardwood finial that is available from most clock parts suppliers. I matched the stain to the case and applied three coats of shellac. Using a drill press I made a hole to accommodate a piece of dowel in the base and finial to secure it to the lower base section. I applied yellow carpenters glue to secure it and here is the result. The cost to rectify it was minimal.

The shape, size and style is now appropriately suited to the case.

The seller had the clock in his family for many years, perhaps as long as the clock is old. Anyway, he would not budge from the $75 but he asked me to send a photo of the clock when it was completed. I did, and received no acknowledgement. I don’t think he ever thought it would look quite like this.