Is it worth the time and expense to have a clock professionally serviced?
That is the question of the day.
I receive many letters from people who ask whether a clock handed down to them is worth repairing/preserving. It is not an easy question to answer. Shared history and stories connected with the clock can be passed down from generation to generation and it is fond memories that keep it alive and consequently, there is a desire to have a clock in running condition. Sometimes it is better to do nothing and simply remember the stories associated with the clock.
If the decision is made to do something, the first consideration is whether or not the cost of preserving or restoring the clock is worth it. If the clock has deep sentimental value, the cost of repair cannot be compared to its resale value.
In the early days of clock collecting, I sent out clocks to be serviced and happily absorbed the cost. I knew then that some clocks cost more to repair than they are worth but I wanted to preserve some and have them operate daily, so, professional repairs were necessary.
A case in point
In January 2017 I bought a box of old clock parts (above photo). I was determined to make my German-made circa 1895 Junghans Crispi wall clock into what it is today. It was my first huge restoration challenge. It was a steep learning curve for me but in the end, I was pretty happy with the results.
During the course of restoration, I attempted to repair the movement, which hadn’t run in over a hundred years and made some rookie errors. I had no other course of action than to bring it to a professional in order to correct my mistakes. At the end of the day, the total cost was $475 for the initial purchase plus the servicing.
Last year, after 4 years of reliable running the clock developed an errant strike which required investigation and disassembly (and a good cleaning while I was at it) but I would not blame that on the professional repair. Perhaps it is the nature of that particular Junghans movement requiring the odd adjustment every now and then.
In the years since then, I have acquired the skills and necessary equipment to perform my own repairs.
Twenty-three of the clocks in my collection are daily runners, all serviced from time to time by myself over the years. I am not a professionally trained clock-maker and some procedures are clearly beyond my capabilities, things such as teeth replacement and repair and fashioning new parts from stock brass. 95% of repairs I can comfortably handle on my own.
Should you bring your clock to a professional? This is a decision you will have to make after weighing all factors. Know that by relying on a professional you can be assured that years of knowledge and experience go into the repair of your precious clock which becomes part of the cost.
Reputable repairers have the correct equipment to tackle just about any repair, offer a warranty period, and will correct any problems that arise after servicing, often without an additional fee.
Clocks are machines and machines do not last forever, parts will wear and from time to time they, like any machine, require attention. If, after some years, the clock that you had professionally repaired stops, I would have no hesitation suggesting that you return to the same repairer for servicing unless, of course, you had a negative experience.