Wall clocks represent the largest category of antique clocks and are among the earliest forms of clocks designed for the home. Throughout the years, walls clocks have been produced in an enormous range of styles, from Rococo to Biedermeier, Arts and Crafts to Art Deco, cuckoo to Coca-Cola.

Some of the first wall clocks were the cartel clocks of 18th-century France. Housed in elaborate cast-bronze or gold-leaf-on-wood frames (cartel is French for frame), these wall clocks often featured Roman numerals on white dials surrounded by gilt garlands, figurines, and cherubs.

The cuckoo clocks made in Germany’s Black Forest are another venerable wall-clock form, particularly the house-shape ones made in the 19th century and attributed to Friedrich Eisenlohr.

Picture clocks from the same century, mostly from Austria, inserted clocks into paintings. In many cases, the paintings would depict village scenes—the hands of the real clock would be strategically placed on the painting so that they were positioned on the exterior of, say, a church steeple. Vienna was also a center for regulator wall clocks, which were among the most accurate clocks of their time.

Wall clocks in 19th-century America evolved from these forms, as well as from English wag-on-the-wall clocks, whose weights and pendulums dangled and swung for all to see below the clock’s case. The most famous and sought-after antique American wall clock is Simon Willard’s banjo clock, which was so named for its resemblance to an upside-down banjo.

In the early part of the century, every American clockmaker worth his salt made a banjo clock. They were typically cased in mahogany and frequently had brass ornamentation on their sides to suggest frets on a banjo’s neck. Some were crowned with eagles, others were anchored by boxes that were decorated with paintings of everything from harbor scenes to grand estates. Still other variations replaced the banjo shape with that of a lyre.

The gallery clock was another popular type of American wall clock. Unlike the banjos, which had long cases to hide the clock’s pendulum, these were almost all dial, with hardly a...

Schools got their own design, the so-called schoolhouse clock, first appearing sometime between 1850 and 1860. Similar to a gallery clock but with more framing—usually wood—around the dial, schoolhouse clocks had short cases below their faces, often with a small pane of glass to reveal the pendulum inside.

Mirror clocks were a very popular form of American wall clock, and hard to find today given their fragility. Typically the dial would occupy the top quarter or third of the clock’s rectangular case, with the bottom section devoted to a mirror, behind which swung the clock’s pendulum. Frames ranged from plain birch to gilt pine.

Double-dial wall clocks from makers such as Jerome and Ingraham were another 19th-century favorite. In most cases, a clock giving the hours and minutes would fill the top section of the case, while hands pointing to the date, month, and/or day of the week filled the bottom. In some of these clocks, tumblers with the printed names of the days and months ("Monday," "January," etc.) poked through the dial, giving these antiques an almost digital appearance.

By the 20th century, many of these wall-clock styles were being mass-produced by Seth Thomas and others. With the advent of electrical wall clocks, manufacturers began adding neon to their products and making their clocks out of plastic, steel, and chrome.

For advertisers, electric clocks represented an exciting new way to pitch products to customers. Coca-Cola and Budweiser were some of the first companies to make advertising clocks, as were gasoline companies and manufacturers of radios and other consumer-electronics devices.

While advertisers chose not take full advantage of the miniaturization of clockworks (dials needed to remain large so that products could be promoted), designers did. One of the best and most collected clock designers of the 20th century was George Nelson, whose clever and even humorous Mid-century Modern sunflower, ball, and starburst wall clocks give new meaning to the phrase "wag on the wall."

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    

Gorgeous Large Size German 2-weight Wall Clock- Signed Movement- Highly CarvedAntique German Junghans Spring Driven Wall Clock Approx.1900Seth Thomas Regulator #2 Wall Clock Mahogany Case Excellent!Fantastically Beautiful Old Lenzkirch 1870 "landlords" Wall Clock Original !!!Old Railway Wall Clock - Barometer - B.r. (e) Lincoln St.marks Extremely RareA Large Mahogany Antique Fusee Wall ClockGorgeous Antique Q-strike German Wall Clock- Porcelain Dial- 1890 Gorgeous Unique & Rare Mark Schutze Two-weight Wall Clock- 1890 GermanyAntique 27" German Ra Regulator Wall Clock Parts RepairBeautiful Large Size Antique Gustav Becker Free Swinger Wall Clock- 1890Huge Genuine Xxl Dealer Display Wall Clock Advertising Patek Philippe Calatrava Antique Oak Gilbert 3005 Gallery Wall Clock Parts RepairAntique 19c. American Carved Gilt Wood Eagle Wall Clock Bracket Shelf Antique 1800s Mahogany & M.o.p Inlaid Fusee Drop Dial Wall Clock, Ganz ,swanseaeVintage U.s Government Chelsea Clock Co Boston Military Time Wall Clock No Glas Vintage-anno 1750 Gravity Saw Tooth Falling Wall Clock-parts Or Restore GermanyAntique Old Vintage Electric German Telenorma ( Tn ) Wall Clock See Video1930-1940 Western Union Naval Observatory Wall Clock Self Winding Art Deco StyleVintage Beautiful Weight Driven German Pendulum Sounding Wall Clock - TrendNew Patek Philippe Dealer Showroom Wall Clock Limited Edition Absolut RarGood Early 12 Inch Fusee Wall Clock Dial Etc C1850sLuminor Panerai Showroom Wall Clock DisplayBeautiful German J. M. Bon Free Swinger Wall Clock New Case - Old Movement 1870 Antique Lenzkirch Wall Clock - Working, Gallery Pub W Key And Pendulum Omega Speedmaster From The Moon To Mars Dealers Showroom Wall Clock DisplayRonde Solo De Cartier Dealers Showroom Wall Clock DisplayBeautiful French Comtoise Rondez Wall Clock- 1870 FranceAntique German Muller Schlenker Two Weight Wall Clock At 1900Vintage Us Navy Chelsea Wall ClockOld Clock Thomas Tompian Wall Clock Moon Phase ClockOld Pam Advertising Electric Wall Clock GrapetteAntique Remember Two Weight Vienna Reculator Wall Clock Works Good Nice CondAntique American En Welch Verdi 8 Day Drop Dial Rosewood Octagon Wall Clock 1885Vintage 1950's Mopar Forward Look Wall Clock Chrysler Desoto Dodge Plymouth 1960Antique-wall-clock- Regulator 19th Century Vienna Clock****Schatz Royal Mariner Nautical Brass Ships Bulkhead Wall Clock 8 Day Bell VintageAntique Oak Waterbury Regulator Wall Clock Case Parts RepairOfficine Panerai 255 Teakwood Wall Clock New In Box Pam255 00255 New Luminor Panerai Dealer Showroom Wall Clock Limited EditionAntique 1860's Running Gorgeous E. Ingraham & Co. Figure 8 Wall Clock W/ Strike.Antique German Black Forest Wall ClockAntique Junghans / Hau German Wall Clock Crossed ArrowsStunning Antique Westminster Chimes Oak Wall Clock, Bevelled GlassBeautiful Large Antique Gustav Becker Wall Clock With Bronze OrnamentsPatek Philippe Calatrava Wood Showroom Display Wall ClockVintage Welby Starburst Mid Century Modern Wall ClockAntique-wall-clock- Regulator 19th Century Vienna Clock ****Antique-wall-clock- Regulator 19th Century Vienna Clock ***gustav Becker ***Original Gustav Becker Original German Wall Clock Antique German B.paschen Freeswinger/wall Clock Approx. 1900Large Antique W.a.m.d Spring Driven Wall Clock With Horse- 1890 GermanyW.german Weight Driven 8 Day Striking Bell Skeleton Wall Clock With Moon DialPatek Philippe Grand Complication Dealer Showroom Advertisement Wall ClockBeautiful Large Antique Gustav Becker 2-weight Wall Clock- 1890Beautiful French Odo Wall Clock- 1920 FranceLux Juvenile Peter Rabbit Wall Clock No Reserve Large German Chime Wall Clock With West. & Ava Maria ChimesA Complicated Masterpiece, Patek Philippe Dealers Showroom Wall Clock, DisplayAntique Vienna Regulator Wall Clock--servicedPatek Philippe Complicated Calendar Dealer Showroom Advertisement Wall Clock