Grandfather Clock Movement - How to Choose a Grandfather Clock

Grandfather Clock Movement - How to Choose a Grandfather Clock

Traditional grandfather clocks have a mechanical movement that requires winding and work without external power. Most grandfather clock mechanical movements are made by a movement supplier, such as by Hermle Clocks or Urgos or Kieninger Clocks while the maker of the clock can be Howard Miller Clocks or Ridgeway Clocks. Mechanical clocks need to be wound, creating energy stored in weights that is used to run the clock. Electric clocks are operated by batteries that produce the external energy to power the clock. There are three movement types: chain-driven, cable-driven, and quartz (battery-operated).

Chain Driven Grandfather Clock

Grandfather Clocks and Floor Clocks with Chain Driven Movement - Premier Clocks

Grandfather clocks with the chain driven movement use chains as a wind mechanism to set the weights in the correct position. The chain-driven grandfather clock has 3 chains, one for each weight with separate purposes. One weight on the right is responsible for the chime melody, one weight in the middle powers the pendulum, and one weight on the left drives the hour striking and counting mechanism. 

The weights must be raised every seven days or the clock will stop. This type of grandfather clock movement needs to be wound manually once a week as the weights are dropping almost to the bottom while powering the grandfather clock. The grandfather clock weights should be placed back to the top by lifting the end of the chain with the weight and at the same time pulling the other end of that chain down. The manufactures suggest performing the weight adjustment wearing cotton gloves or using a soft cloth to protect the chains from tarnishing the brass.

The chain driven movement is less expensive to produce and can be found on the grandfather clocks that cost less in price. At the same time, the chain driven movements are smaller in size and as a result, the grandfather clocks with such mechanism tend to have smaller grandfather clock cases and can fit in smaller spaces. Chain driven movement has a lower lifespan compared to other movements but it can be replaced at relatively low cost.

Find a full selection of Grandfather Clocks and Floor Clocks with Chain Driven Movement here.

Cable Driven Grandfather Clock

Grandfather Clocks and Floor Clocks with Cable Driven Movement - Premier Clocks

On the cable driven grandfather clock, weights are suspended by cables that are used to return the clock's weights to the top position. Similar to chain driven grandfather clocks, there are 3 weights with different purposes: the weight on the right is to power the chime melody, the weight in the middle drives the pendulum, and the weight on the left is responsible for the clock striking mechanism.

Each week the weights need to be adjusted to the top position or the clock will stop. The grandfather clock with cable driven movement is wound by inserting a crank, also called the key, to raise the weights that are near the bottom by the end of the cycle as they power the clock. To place the weights back, the crank (or the key) is inserted into the dial and wind them to the top position. 

The advantage of the cable driven grandfather clock over the chain driven movements is that the brass and cables as well as weights and pendulum are never touched protecting from tarnishing. In addition, the lifespan of the cable driven movement is much longer and the sound of the chimes might be significantly better. The cable driven clocks are bigger in size as the movement requires a larger case which allows for more decorative and elaborate designs. The cable driven movement costs more to produce and as a result such clocks have higher prices.

Find a full selection of Grandfather Clocks and Floor Clocks with Cable Driven Movement here.

Quartz Battery Operated Grandfather Clock

Quartz battery operated grandfather clock - Premier Clocks

The newest way of powering grandfather clocks is quartz or battery-operated movement that was used to build the first quartz clock in 1928. Quartz crystals are used to produce an electronic oscillator to power the pendulum of a grandfather clock and keep accurate time. A fresh battery can operate the clock for over a year and needs to be replaced if the clock begins to lose time, chime weakens, or pendulum stops to swing.

Quartz battery powered grandfather clocks require less maintenance as they have less moving parts. In comparison to mechanical movements, quartz clocks do not need winding and at the same moment, they keep time much more accurate.

Find a full selection of Grandfather Clocks and Floor Clocks with Quartz Battery Operated Movement here.

More about grandfather clocks:

➤  The Common Styles Of Grandfather Clocks
➤  The Types of Grandfather Clock Crown
 Grandfather Clock Pendulum and Weights

1 Response

Mark ross
Mark ross

December 14, 2022

I have a cable weight clock movement handed down to me from my dad. I can’t get the pulley attached because the cable was wound too high. Must I hand turn the hour hand multiple times to get the length back far enough to get the pulley in place then attach the weight? I can’t find a release for the too tightly wound cable

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