Its just overwound: NO, IT IS NOT!!!!

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Its only "overwound".

There are only two things that really annoy me here in "eBay land"; sellers who rip buyers off for post and packing and people who say the clock (or watch) they are selling is "overwound". I have been repairing and overhauling clocks for well over forty years and have been collecting them for many, many more. I have a mentor who is still performing repairs on clocks and watches to this day and he is well into his nineties. I have learned so much from him over the years and I still continue to do so. Sadly, I now do fewer repairs and overhauls, due to my progressively poor health. When I do overhaul a clock, it is done to the standards set out by the British Horological Institute (BHI), to which I am a member.

The first time I took a clock to my mentor and told him that it was "overwound", I nearly got my head bitten off! I truly thought he was going to hit me over the head with it. He was EXTREMELY quick to inform me that it is impossible to overwind a clock (or watch) that was made within the last 250 years or so. If a clock has the main spring wound tight, the clock (or watch) has a problem. It could be "gummed up" through years of hanging on the wall, sitting on the mantel piece or standing up the corner. The oil, what little there would be, may have solidified. "Lung cancer" is another complaint that will cause an item of horology to fail! Nicotine makes the movement very sticky and can cause all sorts of faults, most of which could be intermittant. It could have had a squirt of WD40, or as a friend once did with his clock, he gave it a few drips of oil from the dipstick of his diesel Ford Orion! On the more expensive side, it could need new bushes and pinions or a new wheel made and replaced. If it is a pendulum clock, it may simply be that it needs setting up. OR, it may be totally worn out! Quite often, a clean and service will put the piece back in working order. Whatever the case may be, if it is not working, it has a fault. Being "overwound" is NOT a fault.

It "just needs a service"

Some people when they advertise a clock (or watch) here on eBay, say in the item description "it just needs a service" or "it would benefit from a service" or "we strongly recommend that you have it serviced". OK, we would all benefit from a good service!!  If you read this in the item description, alarm bells should start ringing!! The first thing you must ask yourself is WHY DO THEY SAY IT NEEDS A SERVICE? When sellers say that, it is fairly safe to assume that the timpiece has a fault or problem. You say to yourself  "no problem" and buy the item. So you take your clock (or watch) to your local clock repair man for a service. Assuming that it just needs cleaning and some fresh horological oil applied in the correct places, you could come away with your timepiece working perfectly for as little as £60.00-£80.00. If it needs a bush or two, or a pivot or two, or both, your bill will soon be in excess of £130.00. If the piece is worth £3,000 and you got it for £2,000, it won't be an expensive repair. BUT, if the piece is worth £150.00 and you paid £90.00 for it, you are in trouble! Of course, you could always take it to your "next door neighbour's grandad's friend" who "mends clocks" He may get it working for a tenner. He may not be able to fix it at all and make it worse. Or, you may never see it again! These are things that need to be considered when somebody says "it just needs a service".

I cannot say if it works because "I don't have a key"

When you read this in the item description, the alarm bells should be getting louder!! The very first thing to do is to check the seller's feedback. If they sell clocks and watches on a regular basis, they WILL have the means to wind it up to test it. It is always advisable to assume that the clock or watch is a total "non-worker" if it is sold untested and without a key. Another classic is " I don't want to touch it in case I "overwind" it. An even better one is "I don't know how to wind it up". Whatever the reason quoted in the item description, it pays to assume that you will have to spend over £100.00 on it. If, after you have brought it and have taken delivery, you wind it up and it works, you have got a bargain. If, on the other hand it doesn't work, you have got to spend some money!!

Buyer beware!!

Before you bid for what seems a bargain, take into account the cost of repairs. A very basic service could be £70.00-£100.00. Some quality clock repairers will charge you an inspection fee, quite often in the region of £80.00, in case you don't have the work carried out. After all, time is money! Your purchase that is just "overwound" or "just needs a service" could end up costing you a lot of money to put back into working order. You then have to ask yourself the question IS IT WORTH IT?

Buying a clock (or watch) on eBay

When you are looking for a quality timepiece here in good old eBay land, please consider the following points:

ALWAYS check the sellers feedback to see if they sell clocks or watches on a regular basis. If they do, you will be able to see in their feedback what sort of items that they sell and see the reputation they have gained. I could name several good sellers here on eBay, but I won't do that! If they don't sell clocks and watches on a regular basis, there is a chance that they are totally genuine and you may get a bargain. Or you may just buy what is known as AJS, (all junk and scrap)!!!!!!!!!!

IF POSSIBLE, buy a clock or watch that has been serviced. Quite often, a seller will offer a guarantee for a period of maybe three or six months, especially if they have carried out any servicing or repairs themselves. These items may cost a bit more to purchase, but will be well worth it in the long run. You will also find that it will arrive beautifully wrapped and will come complete with any setting up instructions that the seller feels that you may need.

BEWARE OF FAKES! There are many fake and reproduction clocks offered for sale here on eBay. The classic being the "English dial clock". These are known to most people as "station" or "school" or "office" clocks. If you see "LONDON 6472" on the bottom left hand corner of a fusee movement, the clock is a reproduction. Carriage clocks are another popular clock for the "fakers". If you are considering buying something along these lines, may I suggest you read an excellent guide written by "England 5" on the subject of spotting a "fake"?

INSURANCE! Antique clocks are NOT insurable by anyone other than carriers like Abbey Antiques, who specialise in the transportation of antique clocks. The Royal Mail or any of the other carrier services avaliable DO NOT insure antique clocks. You should bear this in mind if a seller wants to charge you extra for insurance. NEVER pay for something that does not exist!!


This guide is aimed at helping buyers and sellers on eBay that sell clocks and watches. If it helps prevent a buyer from being conned or ripped off, my time spent writing this guide will have been wothwhile. It will, hopefully, also encourage sellers to check their items more thoroughly before listing them for sale.

Read the item description VERY carefully and buy wisely!



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