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]

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 Hand58" German Gustav Becker Grand Sonnerie 3 Weight Vienna Regulator Wall ClockRare Original Vintage George Nelson Mid-century Modern Howard Miller Wall ClockVintage Starburst Sunburst Elgin Eames Atomic Mid Century Era Wall Clock 50s 60sOld Wall Clock Black Forest Cuckoo Clock Schwarzwald 8 Day Clock !!! Special !!!Large English Mahogany Station Dial Wall Clock Antique Fusee Kitchen Wall ClockWonderful 8 Day Antique Wall Clock - German Gustav Becker Wall Clock Movment25" Japanese Shaku Dokei Stick Pillar Ebony Case Wall Clock With Striking Bell46" Highly Brass Decorated Ansonia Antique Hanging 2 Weight Driven Wall ClockAntique-wall-clock- Regulator 19th Century Vienna Clock **Wonderful 8 Day Antique Wall Clock - German Drop Dial Gustav Becker Clock CaseOriginal 1930s English General Post Office Mahogany Chain Fusee Dial Wall ClockOmega Speedmaster Apollo 11 40th Anniversary Dealers Showroom Wall Clock Russell & Jones Wall Clock Company Kitchen Very DecorativeAntique Wall Clock Regulator Vienna Clock*kienzle* Very Big Clock 150 Cm Height Antique Single Weight Vienna Regulator Wall Clock Works With Or Without CaseSuperb Antique German Walnut & Colour Floral Inlaid Vienna Regulator Wall Clock Beautiful Antique German Kienzle Wall Clock At 1900*** Gustav Becker *** Antique-wall-clock- Regulator 19th Century !!beautiful!!Antique-wall-clock- Regulator 19th Century ** Vintage/antique 2 Key Wind Up Chiming Wall Clock In Beautiful Wooden Case Antique Gustav Becker Germany Vienna Regulator Wall ClockBeautiful German Gustav Becker Balcony Free Swinger Wall Clock New CasePequegnat Clock Co. Preston Model Wall Clock Canada Made RegulatorRare U.s. Army Wall Clock- Chelsea Clock Co. BostonE. Howard 59 6 Inch Dial Weight Driven Wall Clock By Foster CamposMagnificient Gilbert #1 Weight Driven Wall Clock With Original Gold Leaf DoorFantastic New Haven "mini" Saxon 8 Day Time Only Wall Clock 7 Inch Dial Mid Century Modern Eames Era 29" Sunburst Forestville Germany Wall Clock Patek Philippe Grand Gallery Showroom Display Mechanical Movement Wall ClockOld Wall Clock Dutch Zaandam Zaanse Wall Clock Orologio Reloj Uhr Xl ClockAntique German Wall Clock ( Junghans)Beautiful Large Size Antique German Spring Driven Wall Clock With German EagleVintage Ge School Train Depot Military Industrial 24 Hour Bakelite Wall ClockBeautiful Antique Junghans Wall Clock With Beautiful Pendulum- 1890 GermanyRare Ansonia Black Metal Iron Case Parlor Mantle Chime Statue-column Wall Clock Wall-clock-comtoise Big Clock With Big Pendulum ***franz Hermle & Sohn ***Antique E Ingraham Country Store Regulator Calendar Wall Clock 32" Tall 12" DialBeautiful German Kraft Behrens Balcony Free Swinger Wall Clock New CaseLuminor Panerai Showroom Wall Clock DisplayAntique 1912 Junghans Wall Clock W/ B12 Movement - Looks Nice, Needs Some WorkGood Reliable Hac Striking Wall Clock Oak Case Glazed Door Circa 1930Antique Striking Drop Dial Wall Clock Kay Of Worcester, Ornate CaseLate 1800's Drop Dial Fusee Wall Clock Bunce Deritend EnglandAntique Wall-clock-comtois Brass Clock ***mesaize Cagnes *** Repeats The SoundBeautiful Antique German Friedrich Mauthe Free Swinger Wall Clock At 1900Old Clock Dutch Zaandam Zaanse Wall Clock +++Beautiful Q-strike Kienzle Wall Clock- 1910 GermanyAntique-wall-clock- Regulator 19th Century Vienna Clock *junghans *Patek Philippe Calatrava Wood Showroom Display Wall ClockRonde Solo De Cartier Dealers Showroom Wall Clock DisplaySuperb Antique C.werner Freeswinger Wall Clock Approx. 1910Antique Solid Elm Octagon Schoolhouse Office Calendar Regulator A Wall Clock Antique Wall Clock Junghans Seth Thomas Starburst Mid Century Modern Wall ClockVintage Mid Century Modern Elgin Atomic Sunburst Wall ClockAnsonia Striking School Wall ClockBeautiful Antique Lenzkirch Gothic Free Swinger Wall Clock- 1901 GermanyCorum Admirals Cup Dealers Showroom Advertising Wall Clock, DisplayLarge Rare Wood & Brass Zaandam Dutch Zaandese 8 Day Chiming Wall Clock Project!