This is a rather interesting tale because it sounds so unlikely! Grandfather Clocks used to be referred to as Longcase Clocks, however due to a highly successful song by Henry Clay Work in 1876, called Grandfather’s Clock, the name of Grandfather Clock stuck.

Did you know you can also buy a Grandmother clock?  You will mainly see Grandfather clocks, however a Grandmother clock is smaller in size, which is great when you don’t have the room for the larger clocks.

There are many shapes to the Longcase / Grandfather clocks as you can see below.

The Classic Grandfather

Curio Cabinet Grandfather

Dome Top Grandfather

Contemporary Style

There are 2 main distinctions between how the Grandfather Clocks are driven.
They may have either a Chain or Cable-driven movement.

Movements

The mechanism that drives a clock is called movement.  It is the heart of the clock, which keeps accurate time and plays the tunes.  Ensuring your clock has a quality movement, means you will have an accurate and long-lasting timepiece, which will also sustain its value over time.

Our Grandfather clocks use either Kieninger or Hermle movements, which are made in Germany.

Kieninger:

Is one of the leading Grandfather clock movement makers.  Founded in 1912, Kieninger have mastered their skills over a hundred years and are the longest existing manufacturers of mechanical clock movements for Grandfather, wall and mantel clocks in the world.  Kieninger has stayed with its traditional concept – the manufacture of technically advanced, high-quality mechanical movements and clocks.  It is no surprise that they are known for their craftsmanship and highest quality products.

Hermle:

Founded in 1922, Hermle is another clock making company that prospered through the war and is still leading the industry in producing high-quality movements and prestige clocks.  Hermle is known for its cutting-edge technology, precision and quality.

Hermle clocks are well-known specifically for their precision and are produced from one of the most modern clock making plants in the world.  They strive to stay on top of current technology, which compliments their work.

The Chimes

Grandfather clock chimes

Grandfather clocks are widely known for their majestic chimes and hour strikes resonating through the halls of a home.   Most Grandfather clocks will chime every 15 minutes,  playing a progressive quarter of the chime as time ticks on.  On the first 15 minutes the clock will play the first 4 notes of the tune, on the half and hour it will play half of the tune, at 45 minutes you will hear 3/4 of the tune and when it hits the 12 o’clock it plays the full tune of 16 notes.  This will then be followed by the strike whose number will correspond to the O’clock.  The world famous Westminster chime is very popular and is most prominently featured in all Grandfather clocks with a single chime.  If the clock features a triple chiming movement, the Whittington and St. Michael chimes more often than not make up the trio.  Ave Maria and Ode to Joy are also two chimes which feature exclusively in some of our Grandfather clocks.

Westminster Chime

Originally derived from Handel’s Messiah, the Westminster Chime became to be known as the Cambridge chime due to them being installed in the University Church tower clock at St. Mary’s in Cambridge.  They were later named the Westminster chime after being installed at the Palace of Westminster in London, now known as Elizabeth Tower.

Whittington Chime

The legendary Whittington Chimes rang in the Church of St. Mary Le Bow in Cheapside, London in the 16th Century. Legend has it that a penniless boy, Dick Whittington (1354-1423) heard them as he ran away to escape his drudgery as an ill-treated house waif. The chimes seemed to say to him, “Turn again, Whittington, Lord Mayor of London Town!” So, back he went and persisted in his labours until he finally did become Lord Mayor of London Town and served three terms!

St. Michael Chime

A true story of adventure surrounds St. Michael’s Chimes: The bells, cast in London, were installed in the St. Michael Church steeple in Charleston, S.C. in 1764. During the Revolutionary War, the British took the bells back to England. After the war, a Charleston merchant bought them and sent them back to America. In 1823, when cracks were discovered in them, they were sent back to London to be re-cast.

In 1862, during the Charleston siege, they were moved to Columbia, S.C. for safe keeping, but Sherman’s army set fire to the area, and nothing but fragments of the bells remained. These were sent back to London once more, where the original molds still stood, and again, re-cast. In February 1867, the eight bells were reinstated in the St. Michael steeple, and on March 21st they rang out joyously, seeming to say: “Home again, home again, from a foreign land!” There was a great rejoicing by the entire city as the bells rang out. Since then, they have endured a cyclone, earthquake and fire unharmed.

Chime on/off

For those that enjoy a nights sleep with silence, the Grandfather clocks have an automatic and/or manual on/off lever where you can disable the chime.  Once engaged by using the selector, the automatic night off function will continuously silence the chimes between approximately 10pm and 7am.  If desired, the chimes and strike can be turned on or off as desired at any time of the day or night.

Special Features

Grandfather Clocks can come with many types of special features.

Moon dials are a popular feature of the Grandfather Clock as they display the 29.5 day calender of the lunar phase. There are many types from simple to elaborate, but generally they show the lunar date and position of the moon in the sky. They are set once and then operate in conjunction with the clock movement.

Hidden safes or hidden compartments are another feature  which make for a really special Grandfather clock.  The exquisite craftsmanship of the cabinetry is remarkable.

Timbers

Grandfather clocks come in many different types of timbers and colours and depending on the manufacturer, there are variations between these colours.  Below are a few of the colours you might find.

Cases can be made from a variety of solid timbers including Oak, Walnut, Mahogany, Maple and Alderwood.  They may also be veneered with specialty timber including burl accents and inlays, while others may have intricate carvings.

Teak

Oak

Cherry

Black Espresso

Russian Birch

Light Cherry

Timber Inlay

Timber Inlay

Heimuhren Clocks

If you have always wanted a Grandfather clock, but simply don’t have the space, you might be interested in the Heimuhren (Home) Clocks.  These timepieces have several of the features of a Grandfather clock such as moon dials and 4/4 chimes, but are wall mounted and take up only a fraction of the wall space.

For more information, the Heimuhren clocks can be found HERE.

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