Regulator clocks, sometimes referred to as pendulum clocks, were invented in the late 18th century in a quest for greater timekeeping accuracy. They were weight-driven devices and featured a deadbeat escapement (an improvement on the anchor design). To ensure their accuracy, they usually omitted complicated features like calendars. Instead, each of the clock’s hands worked off a different mechanism.

The Englishmen Benjamin Vulliamy and James Harrison invented two of the earliest regulators between 1760 and 1780. Despite this British lineage, regulator clocks were not especially well received in England, but they were in Vienna, where the form flourished. Indeed, Vienna regulator wall clocks gained such a reputation for accuracy that they were routinely used in public places such as railway stations and post offices.

During the Empire period (1800-1835), the cases of early Viennese regulator wall clocks were typically made of wood, which was either polished or gilded. These laterndluhr clocks resembled three boxes, one stacked on top of the other. The upper part of the case housed the movement and was capped by a roof. The clock’s weights dangled in the center of the case, and at the bottom swung the pendulum.

The Biedermeier period (1835-1848) was a very conservative time in Vienna—regulator clocks reflected the new austerity. The dachluhr clocks from this era were thus simpler in style. Instead of three sections, these clocks had two: a top section (still with a roof) for the clock’s face and movement, and a bottom section for the weights and pendulum, which could be accessed by a glass door. The clocks were elegant but rigid in their design, except for the "piecrust" bezels around the clocks’ faces.

The Viennese revolution of 1848 expanded the middle class, which made luxuries like regulators more accessible to a greater percentage of the population. And after years of aesthetic repression, these newly affluent Viennese embraced revivals of Greek, Renaissance, and Gothic styles.

For regulator clocks, this meant that straight sides would give way to serpentine waves. Ornamentation was on the rise, as pediments were interrupted by finials and the sides of regulators were ornately carved and scrolled. As for the dials, they were rendered in creamy, bright porcelain.

In 1850s Vienna, antique regulator clocks continued to become increasingly ornate. This meant more finials, more flanking columns, and fancier woodwork on the clock’s top and bot...

The Vienna regulator clocks from about 1870 to 1895 are the most common today. They are also some of the most ornate and beautiful. Signatures of these regulators include the Corinthian columns on the sides of the cases and the clock’s elaborate hands.

All that effusive design ground to a halt at the turn of the 20th century, when the overlapping impulses of Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts ushered in the Jugendstil style, which was a precursor of sorts to 20th-century modernism. It was a return to the box regulators of almost a century before, but this time the lines were softer, the boxes were less boxy but more massive. In addition, Viennese regulators from this period often featured leaded and beveled glass in front of their swinging pendulums, and the woods ranged from gorgeous maple to rich walnut.

In the United States, 19th century clock manufacturers such as Ingraham, Sessions, Seth Thomas, and New Haven also made regulators. Some were designed like squat versions of the famous banjo clocks that were so popular, others were marketed as "railroad regulators" with train-station style numerals and hands.

Just as in Vienna, accuracy was the main selling point for makers of U.S. regulators. Even more interesting, the look of these U.S. clocks paralleled the evolving design of those of the old country, which suggests that U.S. clockmakers were not yet setting the standards for clock design.

Key terms for Antique Regulator Clocks:

Escapement: A device that converts the pressure of a spring or coil into a fixed release of movement.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]

Clockhistory.com

Clockhistory.com

Bill Stoddard's clock history site offers a trove of great reference information on clock and watch makers includin… [read review or visit site]

National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum

Check out this sampling of nautical and maritime items held by the U.K.'s National Maritime Museum and Royal Observ… [read review or visit site]

Dan and Diana's Lux Clock Collection

Dan and Diana's Lux Clock Collection

Dan and Diana Lockett's amazing collection of several hundred novelty Lux clocks made by the Lux Clock Manufacturin… [read review or visit site]

Detex Watchman's Clock Album

Detex Watchman's Clock Album

Philip Haselton's guide to watchmen's time recording equipment. Includes 19th century German portables, 20th centur… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Oak, Gilbert Regulator No. 10, Single Weight Wall Clock W/ Second HandMystery Ferris Wheel Falling Ball Gravity Driven Brass Crystal Regulator ClockRare Antique French Bronze & Champleve Curved 4 Glass Regulator Mantel ClockAntique Samuel Marti French Bronze Mantle Clock Mercury Crystal Regulator FranceEarly Single Weight Vienna Regulator Clock Movement, Dial & Bracket Only @ 1870 Antique 27" German Ra Regulator Wall Clock Parts RepairAntique Wall Clock Regulator Vienna Clock*kienzle* Very Big Clock 150 Cm Height Superb Antique German Walnut & Colour Floral Inlaid Vienna Regulator Wall ClockAntique Single Weight Vienna Regulator Wall Clock Works With Or Without CaseFine Antique Empire Stone & Bronze Crystal Regulator Clock Case Ansonia Dauphin?Antique-wall-clock- Regulator 19th Century ** Antique Gustav Becker Germany Vienna Regulator Wall Clock*** Gustav Becker *** Antique-wall-clock- Regulator 19th Century !!beautiful!!Pequegnat Clock Co. Preston Model Wall Clock Canada Made RegulatorAntique E Ingraham Country Store Regulator Calendar Wall Clock 32" Tall 12" DialC1890 Gustav Becker Vienna Regulator "blind Man's" Clock 54" Runs GreatMatching Pair Engraved Vienna Regulator Clock Weights @ 1890Gilbert Store Regulator ClockSigned 2 Weight Vienna Regulator Clock Movement Only @ 1875 ProjectNice Antique German Junghans Regulator Wall Clock .Antique Ingraham Wall Regulator Clock Movement Parts RepairAntique Sessions Clock Co. Regulator No. 2, Advertising Clock, ProjectEngraved Vienna Weight Regulator Clock Pendulum Only @ 1890 Fancy SuperAntique-wall-clock- Regulator 19th Century Vienna Clock *junghans *Antique Ansonia Prism Jeweled Regulator Mantel Clock Open Escapement Runs GreatVintage Gilbert Crystal Regulator Time And Strike Mantel Clock - VistaAntique-wall-clock-vienna Regulator 19th Century Friedrich Mauthe SchwenningenAntique Seth Thomas 41a Wall Regulator Clock Movement Parts RepairAntique Regulator Clock Gilbert Clock Company Winsted Connecticut Nice!Antique, Vintage Crystal Regulator Clock, Beveled Glass, Very Nice.Rare Antique Ornate Brass French Crystal Regulator Clock Case - W/beveled GlassAntique Clock Vienna Regulator Weight Polished Brass Shell Excellent ConditionAtkins Clock Co. Bristol, Connecticut C. 1870 Rosewood Regulator Schoolhouse Vintage Wall Clocks Regulator 31day Vintage Wall Clock Vienna RegulatorEngraved Vienna Regulator Clock Weight @ 1890Engraved Vienna Weight Regulator Clock Crank Key Only @ 1890 OriginalSerpentine Style Wall Regulator ClockAntique Wall Clock Regulator 19th Century ****junghans****Vintage Schoolhouse Regulator Key Wind Wall Clock With KeyAntique Brass Ingraham Wall Regulator Clock Bezel Glass Dial Parts RepairAntique Brass Wall Regulator Clock Bezel Glass Dial Parts RepairMatching Pair Engraved Vienna Weight Regulator Clock Pulleys @ 1890 FancyVienna Weight Regulator Clock Porcelain Beat Scale Only @ 1890Vienna Weight Regulator Walnut Clock Case Only @ 1875 ProjectComplete Vienna Regulator Weight Clock Pendulum, Brass Bob And StickAntique 24" Oak Regulator Wall Clock Case Parts RepairAntique Wall Clocks Regulator H.braukmanGerman Regulator Clock Gustav BeckerEarly Vienna Weight Regulator Clock Porcelain Beat Scale Only @ 1875Antiquegridiron Seconds Pendulum For A Regulator ClockAnsonia Fancy Crystal Regulator Clock PendulumVienna Weight Regulator Clock Pendulum & Hanger Only @ 1890Clock Part Vienna Regulator Stabilizer PartsAntique Ingraham Regulator Wall Clock, 2 Original Keys And Pendulum, Very NiceVienna Regulator Clock CaseAntique German Regulator Wall Clock Case W/ Wavy Front Glass & Movement Bracket.Oak Wall Hanging Regulator 31 Day Calendar Clock Key Glass DoorAntique Yamato Japan Wall Clock, Regulator, 11.5" X 23"Gustav Becker Lenzkirch Vienna Regulator Wall Clock Beat Plate Scale Cast Brass

Recent News: Regulator Clocks

Source: Google News

Clock school at Oregon prison still ticking
East Oregonian (subscription), March 1st

Among the dozens of clocks placed around the room were vintage cuckoo clocks, a Westminster mantel clock from 1900 and a Vienna regulator clock from about 1870. Richard Courtney stood near a grandfather clock made in Paddington, England, in 1860...Read more

Massive gift keeps nation's last clock school ticking
East Oregonian (subscription), February 27th

Among the dozens of clocks placed around the room were vintage cuckoo clocks, a Westminster mantel clock from 1900 and a Vienna regulator clock from about 1870. Richard Courtney stood near a grandfather clock made in Paddington, England, in 1860...Read more

The Neurobiology of Bipolar Disorder: Neuroimaging and Genetics Update
Focus (subscription), February 23rd

Doi M, Hirayama J, Sassone-Corsi P: Circadian regulator CLOCK is a histone acetyltransferase. Cell 2006; 125:497–508 [CrossRef]. 86. Brown SA, Kowalska E, Dallmann R: (Re)inventing the circadian feedback loop. Dev Cell 2012; 22:477–487 [CrossRef]...Read more

Ashland resident donates clock to historical society
News Item, February 15th

The regulator clock, a more accurate version time-wise of a standard pendulum clock, was rewound about every eight days with a key, which was stored in the case. The glass cover over the lower half of the clock showed "P.H. Loeper, Leading Jeweler...Read more

Rock Valley relics shine in born-again Pember Drug
Sioux City Journal, February 8th

One trip later, and lots of tender loving care, and Westra had the Regulator clock showing in his museum, almost exactly where it worked 100 years ago. Like the back bar, the penny scale and the die-cuts, it's on loan from the Porter family. "The clock...Read more

E. Howard & Company No. 47 wall-hanging astronomical regulator soars to a ...
ArtfixDaily, December 5th

PITTSFIELD, Mass. – An E. Howard & Company No. 47 wall-hanging astronomical regulator clock – one of only three examples known and so rare it doesn't even appear in the E. Howard catalog – soared to a record price of $356,950.00 at a clock and watch ...Read more

An E Howard Company No 47 wall-hanging astronomical regulator clock soars ...
News-Antique.com (press release), December 5th

An E. Howard & Company No. 47 wall-hanging astronomical regulator clock – one of only three examples known and so rare it doesn't even appear in the E. Howard catalog – soared to a record price of $356,950.00 at a clock and watch auction held Nov...Read more

E. Howard & Co. No. 47 wall-hanging clock could fetch $200000-$300000 at ...
ArtfixDaily, September 11th

PITTSFIELD, Mass. - Horological history might be made on November 22nd when an exceedingly rare E. Howard & Company No. 47 wall-hanging astronomical regulator clock comes up for bid in an antique clock auction at Fontaine's Auction Gallery located ...Read more