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What is my Clock Worth? Determining the Value of your Antique Mechanical Clock (#025)

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C114 French Lantern Clock 02

Every clock owner wants to know what their clock is worth!  Perhaps this is the most common question in all of antique collecting.

Valuing a clock’s selling worth is extremely hard to do, is almost always inaccurate, and entirely at the mercy of an unpredictable market.

Know that the value you place on your clock may not line up with what the experts say and what other collectors are willing to pay.  If you have a clock you plan on keeping, the value you place on it is all that matters.



Personal value tends to be personally subjective, an appraised value tends to be based on expert assessment of condition and collectibility tempered by market trends, and actual selling price is always a wildcard dependent on what collectors are willing to pay.

The value of each horological item is determined by the maker, date of manufacture,  complications in the movement, style, material of the case, originality of all the components, availability or rarity, and the present condition. Smiekel Patrick, Timely Investments (USA)

These are several considerations when assessing the value of your clock, or a future purchase:

  • What condition is it in?  Clocks in “textbook” condition are worth more than those requiring much attention – regardless of how collectable the type of clock it is.
  • Does it have all the original parts?  If it does not have all its original parts, its value decreases significantly.
  • What type of mechanism does it have?  The complexity and construction of a mechanism is a significant consideration.  For example, a clock with time, strike and melody (three “trains”) is normally valued more than one with just a time train (some refer to a single train clock as a “timepiece” and not a “clock”).  Also, clocks that have to be wound daily are less desirable than eight-day clocks.
  • Is the clock labeled, stamped or marked with the name or trademark of its maker?  Clocks that have identifications on the face, mechanism or case are more desirable than those that do not.  Unmarked clocks are hard to value because you are left to guess about its period, origin, and maker.
  • Is it from the correct Period or is it a Reproduction?  For example, an original early 19th century Simon Willard  Banjo clock is valued much higher than an early 20th century reproduction of the same style.

    Mass produced clocks are easy to find and are normally not highly desirable. I found one antique dealer in Belgium that had hundreds of vintage (ca 1950-70) Dutch Zaandam clocks. They were relatively hard to sell in that secondary market.

  • Is it Collectable?  This is a wildcard that is almost entirely dependent on supply and demand.  For example, there are so many American Kitchen “Gingerbread” Clocks out in the market that their retail value is very low in comparison to a rare one-of-a-kind marked English Bracket clock from the same period.  Certainly, rare clocks are highly collectable.  They can be rare because few exist.  They can also be rare, although many may exist, but owners do not want to sell them.

Finally, you need to do some research homework.

Find comparable clocks that have sold recently.  This is hit and miss.  Searching through eBay and other online auction sites is the best starting point.

Don’t waste any time determining value using books or sales from 10-30 years past.  These will normally only provide you a false and inaccurate impression of value, since true value is mostly dependent what buyers are paying today – not yesterday.

See our Price Guide. Find out how much clocks are selling for.

Ask the experts – with recent sales experience – to find out what they think.  Clock Shops and online forums work great for this; but, be careful, many times the “experts” may provide an opinion that is clouded with their emotional tie to clocks and over/under value the clock in comparison to what the market would pay.

Good luck and happy Clockventure!

G. Palos

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4 Responses to What is my Clock Worth? Determining the Value of your Antique Mechanical Clock (#025)

  1. Serefino Cambareri November 11, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    Great Website!!!!!!!

    Thanks

  2. Dale Kiesewetter February 28, 2015 at 7:45 pm #

    G. Palos, I enjoyed this timely and important post on valuation of clocks. This information is important and relevant to all “collectibles”.

    The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors has recently begun to offer week long classes entitled “Understanding the fundamentals of watches (clocks) for valuation.” There are apparently very few well qualified individuals that can offer appraisals specifically for watches and clocks.

    • G.Palos March 4, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

      Dale, Thank you and absolutely this is very relevant to other collectibles. Thanks for the info on the NAWCC course…I’d be interested to taking it; My hope is that more people find the joy of clocks and watches.