Art Deco Carriage Clock Buying Guide

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Art Deco Carriage Clock Buying Guide

Carriage clocks are well known for their rectangular cases, hinged handles, and convenient size that made them ideal for travel. They continue to be a sought after timepieces, and designs from the Art Deco era – though more recent than many of their antique relatives – are unique to the twentieth century. Upon first investigating carriage clocks, a buyer may notice that the twentieth century delivered a collision of design ideas. Due to the number of designs on the market, a buyer looking to purchase an Art Deco carriage clock could benefit from following a few simple guidelines. By considering what defines a carriage clock as Art Deco, the variety of Art Deco designs available, the features to look out for, and methods of maintenance, a prospective buyer can be more confident they will purchase the Art Deco piece that suits their needs and taste.

History of Art Deco Carriage Clocks

Carriage clock history starts well before the Art Deco era. Carriage clocks were mantel clocks designed for travel, and often included a case with a hinged panel that allowed for protection as well as easy access to viewing. Created by clockmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet in the early nineteenth century, one of the first pieces was believed to be a gift to Emperor Napoleon. Following this, from 1860 to 1900, carriage clock production soared and remained prolific up until 1930 when the quartz clock was introduced.

With a bold new approach to clock design, Art Deco left the ornate craftsmanship of the previous century behind, focusing instead on straight geometrical shapes and strict adherence to symmetry. The Art Deco movement reached out to most areas of creativity and lasted up until the end of World War Two. A purchaser may note that the era of carriage clock mass production only just overlaps with the Art Deco design movement, meaning that authentic historical Art Deco carriage clocks may be harder to find than those in an Art Deco ‘style.’

Discover Art Deco Carriage Clocks

Through definition, most carriage clocks share broad design features in common. Around fifteen centimetres high, even the French pieces of the 1800s had a rectangular case and a handle like the Art Deco designs. The distinguishing element for an Art Deco buyer is usually not only the carriage clock’s practical design, but also the aesthetics of the Art Deco era. They are found to be simpler in many ways, boasting strong, straight lines, and a lack of overly ornate additions to the case and dial. Their materials and design are said to evince the Machine Age, and also call on influences from other cultures. Their faces often have Arabic numerals as opposed to the previously common Roman numerals. Though the Art Deco era ended in the 1940s, these designs continue to be replicated today in what is known as Art Deco ‘style.’

Parts of Art Deco Carriage Clocks

The internal and external parts that make up an Art Deco carriage clock are the same as most other carriage clock designs. Considering that any given clock has hundreds of parts, below is a list of larger components that make up each piece.



Power source

Allows the clock to run and is generally wound by a key.


Vibrates at a stable frequency and is connected to the escapement.


‘Pushes’ the oscillator to make up for frequency lost by friction and emits a measured pulse.

Counter Chain

A combination of gears that convert the pulse from the escapement into minutes and seconds on the indicator.


The readable part of the clock that is commonly represented by two ‘hands’ and the numbers one through twelve.


Mechanism that emits a noise upon certain positions of the hands, usually on the hour.


Used to wind the power source.


The case surrounding the clock’s mechanisms and indicator.


Found on top of the housing for easy transportation.

Types of Art Deco Carriage Clocks

Art Deco carriage clocks are a very specific clock design, and a prospective buyer would find it hard to pick differences within the carriage clock family. Variations between Art Deco carriage clocks are generally informed by artistic expression, but still reside within the Art Deco framework. While a prospective buyer could search for a particular size, colour, or place of manufacture, it is important to consider that the variations can be minimal, and further classification does not necessarily guide the designs themselves.

An important distinction that a prospective buyer can make, however, is whether or not an Art Deco piece is – or will soon to be – a classifiable antique. Some professionals deem 1930 a measuring year for antique value, which means that there is a chance that those purchasing an Art Deco carriage clock may find themselves browsing antiques, potentially increasing the clock’s value.

Factors to Consider When Buying an Art Deco Carriage Clock

Before making a final decision, a buyer may wish consider a few further important factors before purchase.

  • Authentic Style – Art Deco designs are widely available from contemporary manufacturers. Buyers should determine if their Art Deco carriage clock is authentic, or from a more recent period.
  • Maker’s Mark – Carriage clocks are often marked by their manufacturer which can be used to verify the piece’s Art Deco authenticity.
  • Condition – If purchasing second-hand, a buyer should check to see if the housing’s brass, wood, glass or handle is damaged.
  • Price – A buyer should compare prices if there are Art Deco clocks of similar make and age on the market.
  • Functionality – Carriage clocks often have a rough life through travel, and may no longer tell accurate time.
  • Components – Even though Art Deco carriage clocks are likely to be stronger than their antique predecessors, the internal pieces may have been replaced with modern parts.

Typical Features of Art Deco Carriage Clocks


Generally rectangular, the housing of a carriage clock is one of its defining characteristics. Art Deco designs were influenced by ‘exotic’ materials, and can be found made from a variety of substances including brass, marble, jade, glass, ebony, and chromed bronze.


Art Deco carriage clock’s numerals, whether they were Arabic or Roman, were generally in a streamlined and minimal typeface, echoing the style of the period.


Hands are a distinguishing element of any clock’s design. In keeping with the era’s strong and minimal composition, Art Deco carriage clocks do not generally have ornate additions, but feature solid lines or geometric shapes.


A clock’s audible telling of the time is a feature that also reaches across to Art Deco design. Chimes can vary in their loudness and frequency, and can also come with a silencing option.

Key Winding

Many carriage clocks, including those of the modern Art Deco style, will require hand winding with the use of a key. This is to activate the power source, which will otherwise be operated by a battery.

How to Care of Art Deco Carriage Clocks

There are a few approaches to maintaining a carriage clock that can assist in keeping it working for years to come.

  1. Do not allow a clock to overheat. Mantel clocks of any kind – including carriage clocks – should not be placed above working fireplaces, as they can be warped both inside and out. It is also best to try and keep them out of direct sunlight.
  2. Art Deco’s wide variety of materials means a variety of possible procedures for care. Ensure that dust, moisture and pests do not jeopardise its quality. If it is wooden, make sure to dust it with a non-scratch cloth and keep it out of dry air. Metal or stone designs can be cleaned with a damp cloth and then buffed.
  3. Though their internal mechanisms are sturdier than a pendulum clock, carriage clocks should still be moved with care, so as not to disrupt the inner-workings.
  4. When in doubt, clocks should be taken to professionals for any serious cleaning or maintenance.

Popular Art Deco Carriage Clock Manufacturers

  • Jazz
  • Bayard
  • Duverdrey & Bloquel
  • Blangy
  • Edgar Brandt
  • ImHof
  • Ingraham
  • Seth Thomas
  • Telechron

Finding Art Deco Carriage Clocks on eBay

Once you determine the type of Art Deco carriage clock that you want to purchase, visit the Antiques portal on eBay, select 'Clocks' and start searching item listings. The Categories list on the left-hand side of the eBay page helps to narrow the search.

Searching forArt Deco Carriage Clockson eBay

Search eBay listing titles for specific words when shopping for Art Deco carriage clocks. For example, to find a nickel-plated Art Deco carriage clock, type ‘Nickel Plated Art Deco Carriage Clock’ into the search box, and then click the Advanced button to customise the results. Also visit eBay’s Search Tips page for more advice on searching for clocks with keywords. If you can’t find the exact Art Deco carriage clock you want, try shopping eBay Stores.


Sleek and practical, the Art Deco carriage clock can be an attractive addition for collections or homes. Due to the large amount of information on both the Art Deco era and carriage clocks themselves, it can be a good idea to take note of the above-mentioned guidelines before moving forward with a purchase. It is advisable to be equipped with the knowledge of what separates an Art Deco carriage clock from other twentieth century clocks, the variety of options on the market, and the specific features of the carriage clock to look out for. Once you have collected this information, you can buy an Art Deco carriage clock safely and securely on eBay.

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