Your Guide to Buying an Antique Carriage Clock

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Your Guide to Buying an Antique Carriage Clock

Antique carriage clocks are highly collectable items, sought out not only for their beauty but also for their historical charm. Searching out and buying an antique carriage clock can be an enjoyable process for potential purchasers. Understanding the history of carriage clocks and the various styles and designs will help purchasers in finding the ideal timepiece to add to their home. Buyers should also be aware of the various parts that make up these antique clocks and how to properly care for them to ensure their investment and value remain intact. In discovering more about antique carriage clocks, purchasers are able to make well-informed decisions that will help them find the exact style and design that will work with particular tastes and existing décors. 

History of Antique Carriage Clocks

As far back as ancient times, humans were interested in tracking the passage of time. Early timepieces included sundials and hourglasses that were limited in their use. It wasn’t until almost the 15th century that the first clock was invented in Bedfordshire, England. Over history, the styles of clocks changed to match the trends of the period and their internal mechanisms evolved as technology advanced.  The advent of the carriage clock arrived in around the early 18th century, designed to meet the need for a smaller, more portable clock. Earlier clocks were designed with pendulum mechanisms that could be easily damaged when moved. The balance and spring-driven platform escapement that comprised the working mechanics of the carriage clock made it ideal for transportation. These clocks often included handles to help owners carry them from room to room.

Discover Antique Carriage Clocks

Unlike their modern counterparts, antique carriage clocks come from an age of quality handmade craftsmanship. These clocks were built to last and as a result many antique carriage clocks still exist in excellent working condition. The carriage clock is also one of the most versatile clocks of its era. The fact that it needed to be transported means it was more robust in dealing with jostling and movement than any other style of antique clock. It is also small enough to be placed anywhere in a home without overpowering the room, whilst providing a sense of grandeur and history. Carriage clocks are often set in glass and feature a rectangular shape with a brass case. Simple carriage clocks track the time; while others are designed to sound on even hour. Carriage clocks require winding every eight days in order to functionally track time. Adding an heirloom of this quality is a worthy choice for any home.

Parts of Antique Carriage Clocks

Antique carriage clocks contain a number of complex parts that allow them to run efficiently. Learning the names and functions of these parts serves to make buyers aware of the various components that make up these intricate timepieces to help in identifying and understanding their value and condition.




This protective casing seals the many complex parts of the clock inside and forms the body of the clock. This case can be decorative or plain, depending on the clock and is usually rectangular in design.


The face of the clock where the numbers are found.


The escapement or movements of the clock is the mechanism inside that actually drives the timekeeping element of the clock. Carriage clocks are spring-driven and feature balance wheels and platform escapements.


The hands of the clock that indicate the correct time on the dial.

Gongs, Bells, etc.

The source of noise that signals the changing of the hour, or smaller increments in some clocks. These types of carriage clocks are also considered striking clocks or repeater clocks.

Main Spring

This ribbon of steel can be used to both wind and power the clock. Most carriage eight-day duration, meaning they can operate for a full eight days before requiring winding.


On any carriage clock the handle is an important way to not only transport the device but also to add an addition level of elegance to the piece.

Winding button or key

Key or knob on a clock used to wind the timing mechanism.

Factors to Consider When Buying Antique Carriage Clocks

While purchasing an antique carriage clock may seem like a simple matter of preference, there are a few factors that prospective buyers should consider before making a purchase to ensure they invest in a quality timepiece.

1. Working Condition

The value of an antique carriage clock is impacted by its ability to function as intended. The clock’s mechanics must be in good working order and the clock must be able to track time. The striking mechanisms and trains of repeater clocks must also be in solid functioning condition.

2. Originality

Antique carriage clocks that are comprised of original components are general considered more valuable than those that have been restored or feature escapements that have been upgraded to newer technology.

3. Design

Design features of antique carriage clocks that considered to be rare and more difficult to find, such as enamel panels and engraving, are often considered more valuable from a collector’s perspective. These items tend to be more expensive to purchase.

4. Accessories

Clocks that come with original winding keys and/or travel cases are generally considered more valuable. Original travel cases in good condition can be highly collectable on their own merit.

5. Budget

Setting budget limitations prior to purchasing an antique carriage clock will help narrow down choices and make the process of searching for the ideal clock easier.

Typical Features of Antique Carriage Clocks

Certain features on antique carriage clocks separate them from other clocks. An understanding of the traits and characteristics inherent to antique carriage clocks help purchasers in identifying them and determining their value.

1.  Handcrafted quality

These amazing clocks were built by hand and show a great level of craftsmanship and quality in both materials and design. These pieces are built to last and will become a centerpiece of any collection for generations.

2.  Style

Antique carriage clocks can be considered works of art, and are generally patterned in the popular styles and trend of the period in which they were made. Some styles may be more popular or in higher demand than others, impacting the value of carriage clock depending on its design features.

3.  Eco-friendly

Antique carriage clocks are an eco-friendly choice. They do not require the use of electricity or batteries to operate. However, it is important that antique carriage clocks are wound regularly to avoid damage to their internal mechanisms.

4.  Easy to set up and move

Antique carriage clocks are built with the ability to be transported in mind. These clocks are easy to set up and can be moved from place to place without high risk of damaging components, unlike pendulum clocks that are very sensitive to movement.

How to Care for Antique Carriage Clocks

Caring for an antique carriage clock is a simple task. Due to its intended use as a portable timekeeping device, the carriage clock is easy to move around without high risk of causing damage. When possible, these clocks are best left in a low humidity environment to prevent the metal from corroding too easily. Most carriage clocks need winding every week to prevent damage and strain, and like most other antique clocks, the carriage should be brought to a professional every five years to receive necessary preventative maintenance. Do not attempt to oil or clean the mechanisms inside without professional help. Treat a carriage clock with care and it will become a family heirloom that will last centuries.

Popular Antique Carriage Clock Manufacturers

The classic carriage clock was a popular item and as such those that produced them gained a certain reputation. These manufacturers can help raise the value of any piece. Some of the known British carriage clock producers are:

  • Vulliamy
  • Dent
  • McCabe
  • Frodshame

Popular French of carriage clock producers include:

  • Breguet
  • Drocourt
  • Garnier
  • Jacot

Popular American manufacturers of carriage clocks include:

  • E.N. Welch
  • Howard Miller
  • Elias Ingraham
  • The Gilbert Company

Finding Antique Carriage on eBay

Once you determine the type of antique carriage clock you want to purchase, visit the Antiques portal on eBay, click on `Antique Clocks´, then click on `Carriage Clocks´ and start searching item listings. The Categories list on the left-hand side of the eBay page helps to narrow the search.

Searching for Antique Carriage Clockson eBay

Search eBay listing titles for specific words when shopping for antique carriage clocks. For example, to find a French carriage clock, type `French 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 antique clocks with keywords. If you can’t find the exact antique carriage clock you want, try shopping eBay Stores.


The antique carriage clock is a wonderful creation and can provide a touch of simple elegance to any home. Understanding the history and advantages of this amazingly portable historic timepiece, as well as how to care for it, will help a buyer make a well-informed purchase that will hold value for years to come. Once you have collected this information, you can buy an antique carriage clocksafely and securely on eBay.

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