The Carriage Clock

Clocks

A Walk Down DIY Memory Lane

In modern society, we have so many different DIY projects suitable for everyone from a beginner or amateur hobbyist all the way through to the advanced craftsperson. These DIY projects can fall into the range of small household hacks to the construction of major structures. However, the hobbyists in the past may have had a different variety of projects that were popular in the olden days.

One of the more popular items to construct at home were the carriage clocks. These clocks were invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet to be used by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1812. Here at Cape Watch, many of us have seen these old rectangular clocks in our grandparents’ homes. This is due to the fact that they were later used as a traditional retirement gift from the employer to long serving employees.

Back in the day it replaced the bracket clock as a more portable option that allowed it to be carried around. This is could be done thanks to the balance spring mechanisms which countered the dependence on pendulums. This of course makes the actual timepiece a lot harder to build. The original carriage clocks were fitted with a platform escapement which is observable through the glazed aperture above the casing. In addition to the actual spring balance systems, the carriage clock carried a complicated arrangement of levers and gears that allowed it to have an alarm function.

Although not many companies still use it as a retirement gift, it has remained a favourite vintage item for the keen hobbyist to construct. This, however, is not an easy feat due to the intricate apparatuses that make the clock run. Thankfully, with the invention of quartz clock mechanisms, we can build one at home without spending years to master the craft, unlike our predecessors.

As a group of keen hobbyists ourselves, it is needless to say that we’ve tried to construct one of these clocks. With all the necessary clock parts ready at hand, we were all set to go. Although our first attempt cannot be said to be 100% successful, it was still an enjoyable experience.

Recently we discovered a perfect tutorial from Handyman Magazine that took us step by step on how to successfully construct an elegant carriage clock. Even though the inner mechanics is not an exact replica of the original intricate design, the exterior of the final product still looked amazing. We added our own touches by decorating the exterior with watch parts to give it a more postmodern industrial appearance.

While it may seem to be slightly challenging in the beginning, we found the construction process a lot easier when we followed these tips prior to starting any DIY project:

  • Prepare all the parts in advance,
  • Ensure all your equipment is in working order,
  • Follow the tutorial,
  • Be creative with the decoration but don’t tweak the inner mechanics,
  • Have fun!

If you are interested in building one of these clocks, why not get your hands on a copy of this month’s Handyman Magazine and give our team at Cape Watch a visit. We will help you find all the parts you need so all you have to worry about is following the instructions in the magazine.

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