Famous Grandfather Clocks

Famous Grandfather Clocks - Premier Clocks

Grandfather clocks have become famous and iconic for their symbol of status and elegance. Grandfather clocks were considered luxurious and prestigious items throughout history, often found in affluent homes, palaces, and grand estates. Owning a grandfather clock was seen as a symbol of wealth, refinement, and a testament to one's appreciation for fine craftsmanship. Grandfather clocks are often passed down through generations, becoming cherished family heirlooms. Their enduring appeal and ability to stand the test of time contribute to their fame and enduring popularity.

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What Are Some Names of Grandfather Clocks?

Grandfather clocks are often referred to by different names based on their design, features, or historical significance.

  • Longcase Clock. This is the most generic and commonly used name for traditional grandfather clocks. It refers to the clock's tall, freestanding case that typically houses a pendulum and weights.

  • Tall Case Clock. Similar to a longcase clock, this name also emphasizes the clock's tall stature.

  • Floor Clock. This name highlights the clock's placement on the floor, distinguishing it from wall clocks or mantle clocks. It's often used for a modern grandfather clock.

  • Hall Clock. This term is often used interchangeably with grandfather clock and refers to the clock's typical location in a hallway or entrance hall.

  • Pendulum Clock. This name emphasizes the clock's reliance on a swinging pendulum for timekeeping.

  • Chiming Clock. Some grandfather clocks feature a chiming mechanism that produces musical tones at regular intervals. They may be called chiming clocks to emphasize this feature.

  • Moonphase Clock. Certain grandfather clocks include a moon phase dial that displays the current phase of the moon. They may be referred to as moonphase clocks.

  • Antique Grandfather Clock. When referring to vintage or historical grandfather clocks, the term antique is often used to indicate their age and historical value.

  • Grandfather Wall Clock. This term refers to a clock that hangs on a wall, has a pendulum and a design similar to a large grandfather clock.

  • Grandmother clock. This kind of a clock highlights a smaller size.


What Are the Famous Grandfather Clocks and Why?

There are numerous famous grandfather clocks for various reasons. Some clocks are famous for their clock makers, some for the features they have, while other clocks have historical significance or became famous by being featured in a TV series or movies. Premier Clocks have picked 5 grandfather clocks that are famous for different reasons.


Tall Case Clock by Simon Willard

Simon Willard was one of the most prominent and famous clock makers in the Boston area of his era. The Tall Case Clock by Simon Willard stands as a masterpiece of elegance and craftsmanship. Crafted in the late 18th century, this clock showcases Willard's exceptional skill and attention to detail. Standing tall and proud, its wooden case exudes timeless charm. The dial of the clock face is signed “Simon Willard".

To produce quality grandfather clocks, Simon, with his brother Aaron, coordinated an extensive network of independent artisans for building clocks. They set up two separate workshops in Roxbury, close to the Boston market and shipping routes, and employed more than a score of workmen. They also attracted to the locale additional independent craftsmen with related skills.

More than twenty clock makers, cabinet makers, dial painters and gilders worked for the Willards in Roxbury by 1807. To meet customer demand for things with English style and quality, they provided English-made clocks under their signatures, assembled English clock kits and made clocks from English components. They even made clock parts of their own.

Tall Case Clock by Simon Willard - Premier Clocks

Source: National Museum of American History 

Breguet Sympathique Clock

Although not a traditional grandfather clock, the Breguet Sympathique Clock is a famous timekeeping masterpiece built on the principles developed by Abraham-Louis Breguet, a renowned Swiss watchmaker, in 1793.

It combines a precision pendulum clock with a pocket watch and features intricate complications. The watch is automatically set and wound daily when placed into the recess at the top of the clock. The clock frame is crafted and finished with gilt bronze. The movement of the clock is designed with constant-force chronometer escapement.

The sympathique clock displays the day, month and date, the phases and age of the moon and the equation of time. Celsius thermometer is one of the additional features. A drawer holds a magnifying glass and screwdriver in 18K yellow gold along with a key for resetting the calendar and the time.

Breguet Sympathique Clock - Premier Clocks

Source: breguet.com

Long Case Clock by Thomas Tompion

The Long Case Clock by Thomas Tompion stands as a testament to the genius of its creator. Crafted in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Tompion's antique clocks are renowned for their exceptional precision and exquisite craftsmanship.

The tall clock design, adorned with intricate woodwork and elegant details, showcases Tompion's mastery of aesthetics. Tompion's fine workmanship and ingenious designs contributed greatly to the fame of English clockmaking.

Although the seconds-beating long pendulum became standard for longcase clocks in the late seventeenth century, a few clockmakers experimented with longer pendulums. Thomas Tompion was one of the best English clockmakers who could achieve this. The movement, meticulously crafted with precision gears and a perfectly balanced pendulum, ensures accurate timekeeping. Each tick and tock is a symphony of mechanical perfection.

Long Case Clock by Thomas Tompion - Premier Clocks

Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art 

Stranger Things Grandfather Clock

While the grandfather clocks that we mentioned before are famous for the innovative features, designs and clock makers, there are a few clocks are famous for being featured in movies and TV series. One of these clocks is the grandfather clock from Stranger Things, a popular Netflix series. The show primarily focuses on supernatural phenomena, adventures of a group of kids, and 1980s nostalgia.

The grandfather clock appears in season 4. "Stranger Things" has been using the grandfather clock as a cautionary signal that something wicked this way comes. A grandfather clock chimes four times, and chills run through the bodies of the kids of "Stranger Things" because they all know it means Vecna, the evil entity who rules the Upside Down, is coming for the kill.

The “Stranger Things” clock has a dark wooden body in a Gothic style that was popular during the 1700s. Gothic style has traditionally been connected with mystery and horror books and films, so this particular choice is fitting. The clock face of the prop grandfather clock is actually a design from the mid-18th century, created by (non-accursed) London clockmaker Thomas Grignion.

Stranger Things Grandfather Clock - Premier Clocks

Source: Netflix

Beauty and the Beast Pendulum Clock

Another famous pendulum clock that appeared on the TV is a clock featured in Disney's animated film "Beauty and the Beast". In the movie, the enchanted castle where the Beast resides is home to a variety of sentient household objects, including a charming pendulum clock character named Cogsworth. Cogsworth serves as a loyal advisor and comically fretful companion to the Beast.

The design of the clock is reminiscent of a traditional longcase or grandfather clock, with a human-like face and animated features. The Beauty and the Beast clock has become an iconic symbol of the beloved fairy tale and is often recreated in merchandise and adaptations of the story.

Beauty and the Beast Pendulum Clock - Premier Clocks

Source: Disney
What Is the First Grandfather Clock?

The first known example of a grandfather clock is attributed to English clockmaker William Clement in the late 17th century. Clement is often credited with introducing the long pendulum and anchor escapement to clockmaking, which allowed for increased accuracy in timekeeping.

While the exact details of the first grandfather clock are not definitively known, the development of longcase clocks can be traced back to this period. These early clocks typically featured wooden cases with long pendulums and brass weights, housed in tall wooden cabinets. They were designed to provide accurate timekeeping and were often considered luxury items owned by the upper classes.

It's worth noting that there were earlier forms of domestic clocks that influenced the development of grandfather clocks. These include bracket clocks and hooded clocks, which had similarities in terms of design and mechanisms. However, the specific term "grandfather clock" came into common use later, around the 19th century.

Who Is the Most Famous Clock Maker?

The title of the most famous clock maker is subjective and can vary depending on different criteria, such as historical significance, innovation, craftsmanship, or overall influence on the field of horology. However, one name that is often regarded as one of the most famous and influential clock makers in history.

Abraham-Louis Breguet was an exceptional Swiss watchmaker from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He is renowned for his ingenuity, precision, and invention of numerous horological advancements. His innovations include the development of the tourbillon, an escapement mechanism that counters the effects of gravity, as well as the creation of exquisite and highly complicated timepieces.

Breguet's creations were sought after by royalty, nobility, and prominent figures of his time, and his legacy continues to inspire and shape watchmaking to this day.

Who Is the Most Famous Clock Maker? - Premier Clocks

Source: horobox.com 
What Is the Oldest Grandfather Clock Company?

The oldest known grandfather clock company is the Lenzkirch Clock Factory (Uhrfabrik Lenzkirch) of Germany. It was established in 1849 in the town of Lenzkirch in the Black Forest region.The company initially produced a wide range of clocks, including wall clocks, mantel clocks, and grandfather clocks.

Although Lenzkirch faced financial difficulties in the early 20th century and eventually closed in 1932, its legacy remains significant, and antique Lenzkirch clocks are highly sought after by collectors today.

What Is the Best Vintage Clock Brand?

Determining the "best" vintage clock brand is subjective and can depend on personal preferences, specific models, craftsmanship, historical significance, and various other factors. However, there are several notable vintage clock brands that are highly regarded by collectors and enthusiasts.

Seth Thomas Clock Company, established in the early 19th century in the United States, is known for its quality clocks with a wide range of styles and movements. They produced various types of clocks, including mantle clocks, wall clocks, and grandfather clocks.

Chelsea Clock Company, founded in 1897 in the United States, is renowned for its precision timepieces. They primarily produced ship's clocks and high-end marine chronometers.

Junghans, a German clock and watch manufacturer founded in 1861, is recognized for its craftsmanship and innovation. They produced mantel clocks, wall clocks, and grandfather clocks.

Ansonia Clock Company, established in the late 19th century in the United States, was known for its decorative and intricate clock designs. They were famous for their mantel clocks and wall clocks.

Gustav Becker, a German clockmaker in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is renowned for his high-quality clocks. His clocks are often admired for their precision movements and beautiful cases.

What Is the Best Vintage Clock Brand? - Premier Clocks


Top Current Grandfather Clock Manufacturers

Different brands have different advantages. Here are the 5 well-regarded current grandfather clock manufacturers known for their craftsmanship and quality.

Howard Miller

Howard Miller is a prominent American clock company that produces a wide range of clocks. The company take its start from the Herman Miller Clock Company that was mostly producing wall clocks and mantel clocks. Howard Miller expanded the collection and offers various styles, finishes, and features to cater to different tastes and preferences. Howard Miller Company has created one of the best grandfather clocks ever. Premier Clocks have written a large article about the History of Howard Miller Clock Company.


Hermle Clock Company is a German clock company that has a long history of producing exceptional timepieces. It was found by Franz Hermle. The German grandfather clocks that they produced are respected for their highest quality craftsmanship and traditional designs. Using weight driven mechanical movements, Hermle clocks are famous for the clock's mechanism.


Ridgeway Clocks is another reputable American clock manufacturer specializing in high-quality grandfather clocks and grandmother clocks. They are known for their attention to detail, precision movements, and elegant designs. You can find more information about Ridgeway Clocks production at Premier Clocks Blog.


Kieninger is a renowned German clock manufacturer known for its precision clock movements. They produce a range of clocks, including high-end grandfather clocks, often combining traditional craftsmanship with modern technology.

Erwin Sattler

Erwin Sattler, based in Germany, is highly regarded for its luxurious and meticulously crafted grandfather clocks. By using premium materials (exotic veneers), precision movements, and elegant designs with unique details, each grandfather clock is a perfect timepiece that can be passed down through generations.

The Famous Modern Grandfather Clocks

Clocks in all their variations are important accents of home decor. While the concept of the grandfather clock is rooted in traditional designs, there are some modern interpretations and variations to accommodate customers' needs.

With the vast variety, there is no specific grandfather clocks that are regarded as most famous. However, some styles of modern grandfather clocks seem to be more popular than others. For example, mid century modern furniture, including clocks, is trending now. Also, grandfather clocks in industrial style, such as hourglass or tripod, are purchased more often.

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