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]

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    

Laterndluhr Vienna Regulator Month Duration Wall Clock - Original Antique ClocksAntique German Ruf Urania Freiburg Schl Vienna Regulator Wall ClockVintage Seth Thomas Regulator Long Drop World Clock RunsFrench Champleve Cloisonne Enamel Regulator Clock Brass Four Glass France GiltRare Sessions-welch Orange Crush Store Regulator Calendar Oak Wood Lobby Clock !Antique Vintage Regulator Wall Clock Parts Or PepairAntique Waterbury Calendar Regulator Wall ClockAntique German H E Co Schutz Vienna Regulator Wall ClockLarge Antique Double Weight Gustav Becker Vienna Regulator Wall ClockAntique Ansonia Inlaid Regulator Wall ClockNew Haven Crystal Regulator Shelf Clock Open EscapementAntique Brass Ansonia Crystal Regulator Mantel Shelf Clock PartsNew Haven Antique Large Long Case 30 Day Regulator Wall Clock Esquisite Glazed Miniature Vienna Regulator Wall Clock - Month Duration ClockMarti French Crystal Regulator Clock Retailed By Tiffany & CoOld 1870s French Brass Regulator Mantle Clock Movement Open Escapement Runs Nr!Antique Ansonia Mercury Brass/glass Regulator Mantle ClockVtg Hamilton Wooden Weight Driven Regulator Wall Clock Key Wind Westminster YqzAntique Sessions Regulator Calender Clock PendulumOld Wall Clock German Regulator **adn** BeautifulLong Drop Ansonia Time/ Strike And Calendar Regulator Antique Clock - Runs GoodAntique General Store/school House Regulator Clock - Parts Or RestoreAntique Gustav Becker Big Burly 8" Dial Vienna Regulator Wall Clock Early 1900'sAntique Hamilton Regulator Key Wind Oak Wall Clock Greenfield Manor Nr YqzVtg Hamilton Wooden Weight Driven Regulator Wall Clock Key Wind Westminster YqzFine Classic Antique Vienna Regulator Striking Wall Clock Horse Crown Circa 1900Key Wound Mechanical Regulator Wall Clock W/ Pendulum, Chimes & Oak CaseAntique Wall Clock Vienna Regulator 19th Century ** Junghans **Vintage Ingraham Oak Schoolhouse Calendar Regulator Wall Clock Commercial StickeAmerican Oak Regulator Wall Clock Case Original ProjectVintage Hamilton Wooden Case Regulator Wall Clock Key Wind Westminster Chime YqzTwin Weight Vienna Regulator Wall Clock Weights - Antique ClocksAntique-wall-clock- Regulator 19th Century Vienna Clock *junghans *Vtg Hamilton Wooden Case Regulator Wall Clock Key Wind Westminster Chime Nr YqzVtg Hamilton Wooden Case Regulator Wall Clock Key Wind Westminster Chime Nr Yqz3 Vienna Regulator Clock Cast Brass Movement Brackets @ 1890sAntique Gustav Becker 2 Weight Regulator Wall ClockSeth Thomas Crystal Regulator Clock. Mint Cond. Runs Great! Excellent Striking Vienna Regulator Wall Clock Horse Decorated Crown Circa 1900Nice Circa 1890 Gustav Becker Vienna Regulator R/a Wall Clock - Runs GoodLg Antique Ansonia Mercury Regulator Crystal Beveled Mantle Case Carriage Clock Seth Thomas Crystal Regulator Mantel ClockClock Movement, Mechanical Chiming, Vienna Regulator Type.French Mantle Clock-brass/4 Glass-s. Marti Mercury Regulator-needs Key & ServiceAntique Gf Single Weight Vienna Regulator ClockAntique German Wall Regulator Box Clock Beveled Glass Vintage Regulator Wall Clock Parts - Dial And Large Pendulum Grape Pattern Minneapolis Heat Regulator Co Swivel Clock W/ Beveled Glass Lens 1912 HoneywellSeth Thomas Empire No. 23 Crystal Regulator Mantel Clock Brass Greek 1910Antique Ingraham Regulator Wall Clock, Key And Pendulum, Regulator On GlassBeautiful 28" Chiming 31-day Regulator Wall Clock W Pendulum /key; Working FineNew Haven Clock Co. Regulator Type MovementOld School House Regulator Wall Clock By Verichron Porcelain, Brass New Haven Clock Dial- For An Open Escapement Crystal RegulatorIngraham Dial Pan Office Store Regulator Long Drop Clock Original Pan & DoorJohn Wilding, How To Make An English Regulator Clock, 97 Pages, 8 Day Key Hole Regulator Wall Clock.Antique Junghans Vienna Regulator Wall Clock Side View RunsHoward Miller Regulator Mantel Clock Model 4996 Made In Germany Barwick ClockdivVintage--wiener Biedermeier Wall Clock--regulator----7 Generations Old

Recent News: Regulator Clocks

Source: Google News

Paradise celebrates the return of the clock
Clark Fork Valley Press, November 20th

Once the ceremony commenced Dave Colyer brought the regulator clock to the front of the crowd, accompanied by a drum roll from those in attendance. Colyer and Stephens then placed the clock on a display stand to a round of applause from the ceremony's ...Read more

Old clock's return signals a new era for Paradise School
The Missoulian, November 15th

Judy Stephens, who stumbled on an antique Sessions Regulator clock in Kalispell that had once kept time in the Paradise School for decades, helped bring the clock home this week. Stephens and others hope the clock will return to a prominent place in...Read more

New Home for an Old Clock
Flathead Beacon, November 15th

For more than a decade, a century-old Sessions Regulator clock has ticked away time on the classroom wall at the Museum at Central School in Kalispell. But on Nov. 12, the clock began a long-awaited journey home when the Northwest Montana Historical ...Read more

Piece of history headed back home to Paradise
KPAX-TV, November 14th

Fortunately, another almost identical clock - one with more local historical significance - was donated to Central School several months ago, which meant it was time to send the Sessions Regulator clock back home with the Paradise Elementary School ...Read more

Rare Antique & Collector Clocks, Plus Watches Will Be Sold In A 2-Day Auction ...
PR Web (press release), November 14th

J. Soldano · J.J. Beals · James Doutt · Japy Freres · Jewelers Regulator Clock · Junghans · L'Epie · L.F. & W.W. Carter · Lenzkirch · Limited Edition · L'Marti et Cie · Mantle Clock · Mirror Clock · Mystery Clock · National Calendar Clock Co. New Haven...Read more

Historic school clock changes hands
Daily Inter Lake, November 12th

Judy Stephens holds a 1900-era clock as members of the Paradise School Preservation Committee accept the Sessions Regulator clock from the Northwest Montana Historical Society at the Museum at Central School in Kalispell on Wednesday. The clock ...Read more

Estate Sale Roundup: October 24-26: Check your shocks before you buy old ...
Austin Chronicle, October 24th

There are wall clocks galore, including an Ansonia regulator clock. There are several bedrooms, and the rest of the house, which is full of finds, and don't forget the garage. Inside the house you'll find a floral love seat, two Ethan Allen side tables...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