Antique and collectable clocks can sometimes be hard to pinpoint or identify. If a clock has been neglected over the years its value may not be as visible. For example, maybe you found an old cuckoo clock at a garage sale or an old longcase clock in a relatives house covered in dust. How do you find out its value? Is it worth keeping? Should you sell it? These are just a few of the plethora of questions that come up when we find vintage or antique pieces. In this post we’ll cover all these questions so you know what you’re looking for.
Places like garage sales are often gold mines for vintage and collectable items, however, not everything you discover is a rare and valuable find. So, we’ve put together a list of 10 rare antique and collectable items for you to look out for, unfortunately due to the rarity of some of these antique time-pieces we were not able to find accurate photographs of the individual clocks, the photographs represented in this article are of similar makes or models.
Need to Know: Antique and collectable clocks
Everyone’s go-to for vintage and/or antique clocks tends to be garage sales or house clearances. However, not everything you find in these sales will have a high value. Do you know what makes an antique clock so unique?
Antique clocks are not characterised by the way they look or are required to have certain characteristics. Rather, an object such as an ornament or clock qualifies as an antique if it is over 100 years old. This is something we often miss as we’re searching for valuable items, we’re drawn to the shiny objects or the ones with the most detail. When actually it’s about the age and craftsmanship of the object. You could find the fanciest looking clock in the sale but if it’s not at least 100 years old it won’t be an antique.
Collectable items and clocks on the other hand, have slightly different requirements. A collectible is an item that’s worth increases over time because of its rarity or popularity. Common collectible items include; toys, coins, comic books, clocks and even stamps.
A simple trick when trying to tell if an object is an antique or a collectible item is looking to see if the object or clock is well crafted by looking at the intricate detail and mechanics of the clock. If an object has been passed down to you or inherited its value can often be hard to spot because of wear and tear. In this case it’s always worth going to a reputable website or antique store to check the value and collectible status of your clock or watch.
Let’s get into some of our favourite antique clock pieces:
10 Antique Clocks – The most rare and valuable
The Paris LeCoultre La Serpente
Up first we have the Paris LeCoultre La Serpente Super Complication, a 40mm face, 18K gold case with a sapphire crystal face is one of the rarest pocket watch movements in the world. This one of a kind watch currently retails at around £22,000-£33,000, a true timeless classic. We think this watch could be one of the most elegant pieces that we could ever wear on our wrist. The face of this classic watch is unmatched but what gives it a timeless feel is the crocodile leather bracelet. The balance between the gold case and the leather is unmatched, now we see why this piece is so sought after.
Staffordshire Park 1858 Patent Hand Clock
Quite strikingly modern for its time, the French Rosewood Striking Mantel clock dates all the way back to 1870. Many antique clocks can be traced back to the 17th century, the French Rosewood is a later 17th century piece and is known for its handsome craftsmanship. This clock has a richly figured case with accent tones of fine brass inlay. What we love about this clock is that it’s somehow both boldly traditional and has modern accents that would make it the perfect centrepiece for any interior today. This antique clock currently retails at around £1,850.
French Louis XVI-Style Ormolu Striking Mantel Clock
One of the most delicately crafted clocks, this beautiful clock has a cast rococo case with floral mounts and is encased with putti holding a sundial resting at the top of the clock. Just when we thought this clock couldn’t get any more pristine, your gaze catches the white enamel of the clock face as the ormolu hands pass by the royal blue chapters. This magnificent antique clock currently sells for around £4,200 in the UK, it’s truly a rare statement piece that we’d love to collect one day!
Hermle Longcase Clock
This longcase clock is the piece of childhood dreams, for the Disney generation it will unlock memories of classic the clocks seen in your favourite films and for the nostalgic heart it will bring heartwarming memories of your grandparents or even great-grandparents home with the mahogany staircase and the longcase clock that stood in the hallway. The Hermle longcase clock is made from walnut tree with real wood inlays, truly one of its kind. The face of the clock is laced with the phases of the moon on the inner circle and roman numerals mark the chapters on the clock face. A wonderfully classic antique clock that ticks all the boxes, the Hermle longcase is definitely a matriarch of an antique clock collection.
English Fusee Dial Clock
This 17th century clock is an ornate and colourful piece, with impeccable detail and a timeless design. It has a string mahogany structure that accentuates the vivid colours and bold patterns. This clock is a traditional piece and is most commonly seen in commercial venues such as schools, offices, banks and pubs. It is delicately painted with red, blue and gold detail and has an amazing pendulum feature that’s visible through the glass panels. What makes this clock a unique antique clock is that its colourful patterns are painted on the back of glass panels to create a bold and vibrant timepiece. With its bold and eye-catching design, the face of the clock is comparatively understated. It has a magnolia face with Roman numerals on an easy reading 24 inch clock face. A perfectly balanced clock (in our opinion)
Girandole Wall Timepiece
The Concord Massachusetts clockmaker, Lemuel Curtis, an apprentice of the Willard family in Boston, made the Girandole wall timepiece famous in the early 1800’s. This clock is more than an antique timepiece, it is a work of art. It features intricate carvings and mouldings, metal painted dial and arabic numerals and a golden eagle perched at the top of the clock itself. The metal throat of the clock is painted with a delicate pattern and the lower frame of the clock carries a tablet with a striking illustration of Aurora pulling a chariot. However, this clock is not just about appearances; it will run eight days on one wind and is weight powered rather than spring powered. To get into the mechanics of this piece is any clock lover’s dream.
Cartier’s Flamingo & Lotus Automation Clock
You probably expect this clock to be an antique but it was only created by Cartier in the 1980’s and is probably one of their most favourite clocks to date. Even though it is not yet an antique timepiece, it is a collectable item in its own right. It features a handcrafted flamingo and lotus flower laced with diamonds that amount to 190 carats in total, giving this timepiece a price of $1.2 million or £935k. The 18k yellow gold base of the clock is set with onyx and grey mottled hardstone with four eye-catching lapis lazuli buttons. Two of the Lapis Lazuli buttons have unique functions that truly make this clock one of a kind; one activates the lotus automaton, the second houses the power supply within the opening of the drawer. The diamond laced lotus has ten petals that open to reveal the dial of the clock that sits on nephrite leaves. The Flamingo stands on one leg on the base of the clock and is set with finely cut diamonds as well as square-cut sapphires, rubies and emeralds on the birds plumage.
Japanese Single Foliot Kak Dokei
Appearance wise you may think this clock has little to no value compared to other timepieces on our list, however, the Japanese Single Foliot Kak Dokei has an unrepeatable design unique to 19th century Japan. This unique timepiece is a product of western mechanical clocks and the Japanese 16th century timekeeping system. The design of this timepiece is lantern-inspired and was created to reflect the ‘timekeeping in context’. The dial features a 24 hour system and the clock strikes on the hour by a weight- driven movement. The hourly chime comes from a bell supported on an iron stand with supporting iron pillars and a brass siding. Sitting at just 10 inches tall, this timepiece sits effortlessly on a wall, designed to be the perfect home companion not a attention-demanding centrepiece.
Patek Philippe’s Magpie’s Treasure Nest
Created by high end watch manufacturer Patek Phillippe, the Magpie’s Treasure Nest timepiece is a stunning clock that features a magpie feeding her baby. The piece is encrusted with precious stones including 24.95 carats of diamonds, 13.7 carats of rubies and a stunning blue tanzanite in the mother bird’s mouth. The blue tanzanite alone weighs 104.75 carats. It’s no surprise that the Magpie’s Treasure Nest is one of the most expensive pieces on our list at a price of $2.3 million or £1.79 million. Blue sapphires mark the numerals on the face of the clock and the dial is a delicate diamond encrusted flower. No detail has been overlooked in the creation of this clock.
Did you find one of these rare collectables in your search for rare vintage watches or antique clocks? Let us know in the comments.