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Carriage Clocks

The golden age of classic carriage clocks was between 1860 and 1900. Despite knowing some very beautiful pieces from Switzerland, England and Austria, the great bulk was produced near Belfort in France and then mainly exported to England. The forerunners of carriage clocks were the Capucines.

Although all carriage clocks look very similar (surrounded by a glazed brass housing, polished or gilded, with a fold-down handle) there are, however, very great differences in quality, size, housing and such complexities as striking trains, calendar indicators, etc.

French carriage clocks practically always have an 8-day spring movement and a cylinder or anchor escapement. The anchor escapement is preferable for reasons of reliability and ease of repair. Simpler versions have a movement comprising the clock alone, possibly with an alarm. These are followed by versions with striking trains (repeating or non-repeating) which strike onto gongs or bells.

Simple striking trains chime the hours (1 - 12 chimes) and the half-hours with a single beat. If these clocks are provided with a repeat button, the last hour can, on request, be struck again. The so-called "petite sonnerie" (small striking train) strikes the complete hour and every quarter-hour on 2 gongs or 2 bells with 1x ding-dong for the first quarter-hour, 2x for the half-hour and 3x for the three-quarter-hour. Repetition results in striking the last complete hour and then the preceding quarter-hour, which even today can be very pleasant at night.

The "grande sonnerie" (large striking train) not only strikes every quarter-hour, but also automatically repeats the preceding complete hour (i.e. not only on request). This all culminates in the repetition of minutes, where the minutes which have passed from the current quarter-hour are also struck.

The standard height is around 15 cm (with handle open). There are also some very small examples (5 cm or below) and some very large ones (30 cm or above).

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