clock & barometer repairs
01277 658800   Billericay


dial clock repairs

Dial clocks are so called because they are little more than a dial in a circular wooden case for hanging on a wall.

The majority have twelve inch dials set in slightly larger hardwood surrounds (usually mahogany or walnut) but they can be as large as 24 inches across and more, where they were designed for public use. But they can also be as small as eight inches across and those smaller ones often fetch higher prices because they better suit a smaller modern house.

There are broadly three types. American dial clocks made by Ansonia, Seth Thomas, Gilbert, Waterbury, Ingraham etc are comparatively rare but that does not make them highly valuable. Some have a date ring on the perimeter of the dial and a long red calendar hand, usually housed in an octagonal frame. And all of them have open springs (no barrels). You'll see quite a few Ansonias with a strike train as well but you should listen to them before buying as many sound like a bag of spanners when the wheels start turning! Since reducing my working days a week, I no longer take American clocks in for repair because the buld quality is poor.

Most of the rest of the dial clocks you'll see are English and much better, but there are three distinct types.

First there are recent electric dial clocks, run by an electric motor directly from the mains supply, which are easy to spot as soon as you turn then over. The power is supplied by a synchronous motor which relies on the mains frequency so they are very accurate and yet very inexpensive though still very collectible in some quarters, especially if the frame is in bakelite (an early form of plastic). Watch out, though, as some have "slave" movements and require a "Master" to drive them. These were frequently used in schools, post offices (remember those???) and public buildings like police stations, libraries and the Town Hall in the nineteen fifties and sixties. I am not qualied to repair mains electrical items so I'm afraid that I do not take these in.

Before that were the cheaper mechanical dial clocks with pendulum, often 8-day but sometimes 30 hour, and often still in a mahogany (or oak) case but sometimes with a softwood case like pine. These are comparatively inexpensive and have a simple spring-driven movement by Enfield or Smiths where the spring is contained inside a barrel. The digits might well be Arabic rather than Roman. But those with Roman numerals in a mahogany case look very like the more valuable ones described below and there is a massive difference in value so be careful to check before you buy.

Finally, there are the 8-day fusée dial clocks. These were used on the railways and other public places where accuracy was important . The fusée is a conical shaped brass wheel linked to the mainspring barrel by a line of some sort, made from chain, natural gut or steel cable. It is designed to balance out the tendency for a mainspring to retain less and less power as it gradually unwinds and releases its power. If you're technically minded, you can see some illustrations and find out more about this on my FUSEES page.

The dials and hands were rarely decorated as they were functional timepieces rather than objects to admire. For the same reason, they rarely struck the hours. Early fusée dial clocks are particularly collectible, immediately distinguishable by their slimmer hands and brass bezels, and by their domed dials and convex glass. Under the dial, the wheels of the brass movement are finely crossed out, and the plates are always riveted and pinned together, not screwed front and back.

One of the most prolific makers of dial clocks were Gillett & Bland of Croydon (later Gillett & Johnston) but take special care because there are a great many fake dial clocks from India bearing that name on the dial, often mis-spelled! Other names to watch out for are Atkinson, Allen, Jones, and SIR Walker. Some even have LNER on them to suggest they are former railway clocks but the curious thing is that more often than not the brass plates (that you can only view if you remove the back box) are stamped 'London' and/or '6472'. I have a separate page devoted to these fake versions so check out FAKE DIAL CLOCKS if you're thinking of buying a dial clock or are suspicious about one you already have.

Have a look at Prices next. Most paid for work is guaranteed.



  • DialA
  • DialB
  • DialC
  • DialD
  • DialE