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    

Antique Oak, Gilbert Regulator No. 10, Single Weight Wall Clock W/ Second Hand58" German Gustav Becker Grand Sonnerie 3 Weight Vienna Regulator Wall ClockOld Wall Clock Regulator Vienna Clock Very Big Xl Clock 128 Cm HeightRare Original Vintage George Nelson Mid-century Modern Howard Miller Wall ClockOld Wall Clock Black Forest Cuckoo Clock Schwarzwald 8 Day Clock !!! Special !!!25" Japanese Shaku Dokei Stick Pillar Ebony Case Wall Clock With Striking BellLarge English Mahogany Station Dial Wall Clock Antique Fusee Kitchen Wall ClockAntique German Junghans Spring Driven Wall Clock Approx.1900Antique-wall-clock- Regulator 19th Century Vienna Clock **Antique Wall Clock Herman Miller Banjo 40 Inch Mahogany Original 1930 No ReserveOmega Advertising Speedmaster Professional Showroom Wall Clock Moon To Mars Ed*** Gustav Becker *** Antique-wall-clock- Regulator 19th Century !!beautiful!!Wonderful 8 Day Antique Wall Clock - German Gustav Becker Wall Clock MovmentGlowing Dealer Display Wall Clock Advertising Officine Panerai Luminor WatchAntique Single Weight Vienna Regulator Wall Clock Works With Or Without Case Beautiful Antique German Carl Johannes Schlenker Wall Clock At 1897 / 1899Excellent Antique Eagle Crown Vienna Regulator Striking Wall Clock Circa 1900sAntike Vienna Regulator Wall Clocks With Seconds DisplayWonderful 8 Day Antique Wall Clock - German Drop Dial Gustav Becker Clock CaseAntique French Comtoise Morbier Wall Clock Not Running Looks Complete No WeightOld Westminster Wuba Friesen Wall Clock Extra Large Antique French Comtoise Morbier Wall Clock Not Running Looks Complete No WeightE. Howard 59 6 Inch Dial Weight Driven Wall Clock By Foster CamposAntique Running Gustav Becker Long Regulator Wall Clock Dial W/ Beveled Glass.Antique French Comtoise Morbier Wall Clock Repeater Calendar Looks Complete Vintage Dutch Zaanse Friesn 8 Day Wall Clock Beautiful Antique German Kienzle Wall Clock At 1900Huge Genuine Xxl Dealer Display Wall Clock Advertising Patek Philippe Calatrava Pequegnat Clock Co. Preston Model Wall Clock Canada Made RegulatorBeautiful German Gustav Becker Balcony Free Swinger Wall Clock New CaseVintage Dutch Zaanse Wall Clocks Extra Large 61cm Orologio RelojesSuperb Antique German Walnut & Colour Floral Inlaid Vienna Regulator Wall ClockAntique Regulator Wall Clock -kienzle 19jahrOld Wall Clock Dutch Zaandam Zaanse Wall Clock Orologio Reloj Uhr Xl ClockAntique Carved Wall Clock Case.gorgeous!Antique-wall-clock- Regulator 19th Century ** Russell & Jones Wall Clock Company Kitchen Very DecorativeFantastic New Haven "mini" Saxon 8 Day Time Only Wall Clock 7 Inch DialPatek Philippe Grand Gallery Showroom Display Mechanical Movement Wall ClockRare Ansonia Black Metal Iron Case Parlor Mantle Chime Statue-column Wall Clock Wall-clock-comtoise Big Clock With Big Pendulum ***franz Hermle & Sohn ***Beautiful Antique Junghans Wall Clock With Beautiful Pendulum- 1890 GermanyVintage Dutch Zaanse Wall Clocks Handpainted Rare Marked Ucw UnitedOld Wall Clocks Made Germany Extra Large Antique Wall-clock-comtois Brass Clock ***mesaize Cagnes *** Repeats The SoundChelsea U.s. Gonvernment Wall Clock Excellent Condition Antique German Westminster Embee Chime/gears Wall Clock.Howard Miller Model 612-575 Triple Chime Oak Wall Clock 30"Black Forest Wall Clock With Pendulum, Weights Wood Platres And Top BellBeautiful German Kraft Behrens Balcony Free Swinger Wall Clock New CaseOld Westminster Wall Clock Extra Large ´wiht Big Ben Melodie Franz Hermle Brand New ~ Seiko Melodies In Motion Wall Clock ~ Made With Swarovski ElementsAntique Wall Clock Regulator 19th Century ****junghans****Antique Gustav Becker Wall ClockNew Chopard Mille Miglia Gran Turismo Xl Dealer Showroom Wall Clock Limited EditAntique-wall-clock- Regulator 19th Century Vienna Clock *junghans *Castrol Gtx Oil Advertising Lighted Wall Clock Sign Garage Service StationSeth Thomas Ships Clock And Barometer - Hanging Wall Clock With Bell Seth Thomas Starburst Mid Century Modern Wall ClockOld Clock Dutch Zaandam Zaanse Wall Clock +++