What are some of the world’s most famous wall clocks? Well, we asked that question of many of our grandfather clocks and mantel clocks and wall clock customers who were shopping for both new and antique clocks.
Somewhat surprisingly, at least to us, almost all answers related to modern day brands and makers, and clocks other than wall clocks, such as grandfather grandmother and mantel clocks frequently became part of the answer. Howard Miller Clocks, which makes not only their own branded wall clocks, but also Howard Miller Grandfather Clocks and Howard Miller Mantel and Atomic Clocks, seems to be the most recognized and respected high-end maker in today’s clocks marketplace. As some readers may know, Howard Miller, who founded Howard Miller Clocks almost 100 years ago, was the son of Herman Miller, the legendary maker of furniture targeting the office marketplace, synonymous for some with names like Eames and George Nelson, and still highly sought after today both as new furniture and highly collectible vintage and older pieces. What few know is that Howard Miller started his career at Herman Miller making Herman Miller branded clocks, including mantel clocks, wall clocks, and grandfather clocks. While still reasonably young, because Howard Miller became so enamored of clocks, he decided to start his own company literally just across the street from Herman Miller in Zeeland Michigan, and to this very day, both companies still exist as separate entities across the street from one another some 80 plus years later. A lot of grandfather clocks have chimed during this period, playing the Westminster Chime, Whittington Chime and St Michaels chimes.
While Howard Miller was by far the most popular single answer, it was by no means the only one. Perhaps because of our historical roots as a store in New York’s Grand Central Station, some people said whoever that company was that made the four sided clock that sits on top of the Information Center in Grand Central. Almost no one knew that this masterpiece was made the the New York based Self Winding Clock Company, and the inside movement for that particular clock was made to spec by Seth Thomas Clocks. The Self Winding Clock Company of New York has been out of business for many years, but since they made so many spectacular clocks, their work and name lives on in clocks, particularly wall clocks, especially train station clocks and double sided clocks and gallery wall clocks, and a few grandfather clocks, around many parts of the world.
Hermle Clocks was another name that came up a lot, although quite interestingly, people more often mispronounced the name of this great German clock company which has a history of at least 150 years. Hermle not only makes its wall clocks, but also makes its amazing Hermle Grandfather Clocks, Hermle Grandmother Clocks, and Hermle mantel clocks. Hermle Clocks is also known, along with Kieninger Clocks, as one of the last two remaining high-end mechanical movement manufacturers left in the world that makes mechanical movements in any larger quantity.
Seth Thomas Clocks is another name that was mentioned often, and this maker must have over 100,000 working Seth Thomas Clocks of all types over the last 150 years, including grandfather, wall and mantel clocks, and atomic clocks in more recent years. Sadly, for at least the last couple of years, Seth Thomas Clocks has effectively been out of business or at least not making any clocks or employing people in any quantity other than at most administrative. We believe that because the Seth Thomas name, and its great reputation both in general and as America’s oldest clock company, that the company will come back into existence and into its own under new ownership in the not too distant future.
Ridgeway Clocks, though known primarily as a maker of grandfather clocks, also comes up as an answer to who makes the best and most famous wall clocks. Ridgeway Clocks was in fact acquired by Howard Miller Clocks about 10 years ago. And for the last 8 or so years, all Ridgeway Clocks, including Ridgeway’s most famous grandfather clocks, have been made in the same places that Howard Miller clocks and Howard Miller grandfather clocks have been made. All of the grandfather clocks made by Ridgeway and Howard Miller have the same movements, with all the mechanical movements in more recent years having been made by Kieninger Clocks. Even more recently, the same people who design Howard Miller Clocks have been designing Ridgeway Clocks. And when one hears the Westminster Chime being played on a Ridgeway Grandfather Clock, it will sound identical, because comparable models will have the same movement, to a Howard Miller Grandfather Clock.
Bulova Clocks did get some mentions, but most all people still think primarily of their high quality watches if they do not somehow have firsthand knowledge of their clocks offerings.
So you have a favorite antique wall clock? We know some of ours would include the German made Gustav Becker clocks, the J W Benson Fusee wall clocks made in England, E Howard regulator clocks, not to mention the Tiffany wall clocks, which were made in small lots for individual designs, and by many different high-end makers, including A D Mougin and Japy Freres of France, among many, many others. Schneider cuckoo clocks, still made today, come to mind as well. We could go on and on here, but we would like to hear from you.
Famous Clock atop Information Booth at New York’s Grand Central Station (courtesy iStock photo)