Adjusting the Time on a Mechanical Clock for Daylight Saving Time (#010)

010 - Daylightsavings

Are you prepared to reset your clock(s)?

This is what you need to know about adjusting the time on your mechanical clock forward (clockwise) or backward (counterclockwise).

In 2015, DST starts on (a few examples):

  • October 4: Australia (Southern Hemisphere)
  • March 29: Germany, The Netherlands, UK
  • March 8: Canada, USA (most states)
78 countries participate in “Daylight Saving Time.” It’s also called “Summer Time” in some countries. When DST is not observed, it’s called standard time, normal time or winter time.
To learn more visit

Caution with the End of Daylight Saving Time:

Every Autumn (Fall), many clocks are damaged because owners unknowingly move the minute hand backwards causing serious damage to older antique clocks.

Unfortunately the end of Daylights Saving Time will also mark the end of many fine clocks. While most modern mechanical clock movements contain safety features that permit the hands to be gently moved forward or backward, while antique clocks can suffer sever damage from this simple activity. So what’s the clock owner to do?
Scott Markwood, Retired Clockmaker in North Carolina, The Clock-Shop Blog

010 - Counterclockwise - Small010 - Clockwise - SmallKnow This:

  • Time only (timepiece) “Clocks” can be moved clockwise or counterclockwise without any worry.
  • However, you must be cautious and take special care with clocks that have a strike or chime feature. Moving the minute hand on these forward (clockwise) may throw off the strike or chiming sequence, and moving them backwards (counterclockwise) may cause serious damage to the mechanism.
Traditionally, a clock that is time only is referred to as a “timepiece.” The term “clock” is derived from a Celtic word for bell. Therefore, many only refer to a clock as a “clock” when it has a striking or melody attribute.


  • Reset the time using the minute hand only, and not the hour hand
  • Never move the minute hand counterclockwise, unless you are certain you can
  • If you feel resistance when moving the minute hand (forward or backward), stop. You may cause damage to your clock if you continue.
  • Contact your local Clock Shop for assistance when in doubt or encounter resistance
On many antique clocks when moving the minute hand back, the damage occurs when the strike train is forced to move counterclockwise.  Forcing a counterclockwise movement will likely seriously damage the strike train.  It can be repaired by an experienced clockmaker at a local clock repair shop, but it may be costly.
Learn more about an antique strike train (with a count wheel) with this NAWCC tutorial.

Resetting the time Forward (Clockwise):

For all clocks, you can move the minute hand forward (clockwise) without fear of damaging the clock, but stop and pause to allow a strike or chime sequence to finish (at each quarter or half hour mark). Otherwise, on most antique clocks, the strike or chime sequence will be thrown out of sequence.

  • Modern Clocks (generally after 1950), can be moved forward without stopping to wait on the strike or chime sequence to complete. These clocks have a design to reset the correct strike and chime automatically (normally within a few hours).
  • Always stop if you feel resistance. Never force it. Your clock may have a problem with the mechanism. Contact your local clock shop for help.

Resetting the time Back:


  • Time only clocks can be set backwards without restriction.
  • For clocks that strike or chime, never move the minute hand counterclockwise, unless you are certain you can. If you don’t know, it’s best to stay on the side of caution.

For all mechanical clocks, the two safest methods to reset the time back are:

  • Stop the Clock. Stop the clock by gently stopping the pendulum for one hour to allow the time to catch up.  Restart the clock by gently moving the pendulum.  Move the minute had forward to the correct time.  If your clock has a balance wheel (no pendulum) it is easier to use the next method.
  • Move the Minute Hand Forward. Move the minute hand forward by 11 hours (11 full clockwise rotations).  Stop at each hour and half hour to allow the strike sequence to complete. For chiming clocks, also stop at each quarter hour to allow the chime sequence to complete.

Always consult with your local clock shop if you need help.

Daylight Saving Time Decomposed:

Still unsure about why Daylight Saving Time?  This short video is an excellent primer to help you understand it or confuse yourself further:

YouTube Preview Image

Good luck with your time travel and happy Clockventures!

G. Palos

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