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    

Ansonia 1890 Oak Jewelry Store Wall Clock RegulatorAntique 8 Day Ts French Marti Crystal Regulator Clock Ornate Columns & PendulumLaterndluhr Vienna Regulator Triple Weight Wall Clock - Original Antique ClocksLow Reserve Antique German Hac Vienna Regulator Striking Wall Clock Horse CrownAntique 1882 Ansonia Brass Case Beveled Glass Crystal Regulator Clock PartsEsquisite Glazed Miniature Vienna Regulator Wall Clock - Original Antique ClocksAntique Vienna Regulator Clock CasePatent Amelgament Torsion 400 Day Anniversary Clock Crystal Regulator Parts Antique New Haven Calendar Wall Clock / Regulator 8-day Movement C. 1905Antique Ansonia Porcelain Dial 1882 Movement Crystal Regulator Open Clock PartsSessions 1904 Advertising Jeweler's & Optician Regulator Wall ClockAntique Wall Clock Regulator German Clock ***bwl*** 1912 Beautiful And PerfectGorgeous 19thc Etched 4 Glass French Mantel Clock - Crystal Regulator ClockAntique Wall Clock Regulator 19th Century Vienna Regulator Old Wall Clock From Germany Regulator **hermle** Good Time & Strike Junghans Vienna Regulator Clock Movement (weight Driven)Antique Waterbury Crystal Regulator Clock For Parts Or RestorationAntique Ansonia Crystal Regulator Mantle Clock, Prism Open Escape, Brass/glassAntique Wall Clock Regulator Germany Clock ***mauthe***Antique French Crystal Regulator Clock Working OriginalAntique French Brass Crystal Regulator Mantle Clock #311Seth Thomas Regulator No. 20 Clock Key Only @ 1910Samuel Marti Brass Regulator Mantel ClockBiedermeier Vienna Weight Regulator Clock @ 1850 Nice!Junghans 1890 Spool Columns Vienna Regulator Wall Clock Howard Miller Regulator Oak Wall Chime Clock VintageAntique New Haven Wall Clock Movement For Erie Or Bank Regulator Rare 3 FeetAntique 1882 Ansonia Brass Winding Key Double Ended Crystal Regulator Clock PartVintage--wiener Biedermeier Wall Clock--regulator----7 Generations OldAntique Regulator Mechanical Wall Clock With A Key. Size 23" X 14" X 6"Two Vienna Regulator Clock Weights With Attached Pulleys Antique Figure 8 Regulator Wall Clock Seikosha Original Looks/runs Great Japan! Franklin Mint L'epee Liberty Paris Regulator Clock Reuge Musical MovementHanging 23" Vintage Regulator Clock With PendulumVintage Verichron Regulator 31 Day ClockJaeger Lecoultre Atmos Clock Upper Regulator Suspension Spring Clamp Part Rare Antique Vtg German Oak Wood Vienna Regulator Bim-bam Chime Box Wall Clock !Vintage Ansonia Striking Regulator Wall Clock *key & Pendulum* Nice Condition!!Hamilton Dupont Regulator Wall Clock Wood With Brass Pendulum Centurion School House Regulator Key Wind Chime Wood Wall Clock 35 Day Vtg Fantastic Antiqued Brass Qe2 World-time Regulator Clock-setting Sundial CompassLarge Regulator Keyed Oak Wall Clock.very Nice Ding Dongs On The HourVintage Dea Regulator Wall Hanging ClockRegulator Verichron Chime Wood Wall Clock. Missing Internal Pieces!Matching Set Of 3 Weights For Vienna Regulator Clock @ 1890Art Nouveau Vienna Weight Regulator Clock Case Only @ 1900Vintage Centurion 35 Day Regulator Key Wind Chime Wood Wall Or Mantle Clock

Recent News: Regulator Clocks

Source: Google News

Estate Sale Roundup: October 17-19: The weather is perfect for rummaging
Austin Chronicle, October 17th

1947 Roseville blue "Snowberry" pedestal (no jardiniere); Vilbor (Germany) barometer/thermometer/hygrometer; El Presidente humidor; Howard Miller "Regulator" clock; Southwestern Louisiana Institute "L'Acadian" 1947-49 yearbooks and other books; ...Read more