Vintage Telachron Clocks

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2015-06-26 10:34:10

Vintage Telechron clocks are clocks that were manufactured between 1912 until the early-1960s by the American company Telechron.

Brief history

The company was established in 1912 and was originally called The Warren Clock Company, after its founder Henry Warren. Initially, the company produced standard battery-powered clocks but they proved unreliable, as the ephemeral lifespan of the batteries resulted in inaccurate time-keeping.

Warren, realising that electric motors would solve the problem, invented the self-starting synchronous motor in 1915. The invention was later patented in 1918. The concept behind Telechron clocks was that in order to keep precise time, one would have to link time-keeping to the transmission of electricity sourced from power grids. All future Telechron clocks were driven by successive versions of Warren’s synchronous motor.

Telechron enjoyed huge success between 1925 and 1955 and its products were sold to millions of American consumers. The company’s triumph cannot however, be purely attributed to the precision of its time-keeping. Telechron clocks were designed by some of the most respected Art-Deco designers of the time, including John P. Rainbault, Kem Weber, Paul Frankl and Leo Ivan Bruce. The designs incorporated many of the motifs of Art-deco, including simple geometric design, elegant patterns and, above all, modernity. This not only made Telechron clocks genuine pieces of art, but pieces of art that could be mass-produced and made available to middle-America at affordable prices.

Guide for collectors

Their exquisite design and outstanding reliability has assured that an established and competitive community of Telechron clock enthusiasts has formed in the last twenty years. The appeal of these early-twentieth century clocks is a significant testament to a now archaic era of solid and American manufacturing which contrasts significantly with the modern trend of disposable consumer goods.

Despite being built over six decades ago, due to the durability of the working mechanisms, the motors in Telechron electric clocks are renowned for their almost ever-lasting precision. Furthermore, since Telechron clocks were mass produced, typical models can usually be bought from $15 to $40 on online bidding sites such as eBay. The more rare and unique specimens, particularly those designed by notable Art-Deco designers of the 1920s and 1940s, do make occasional appearances at auction houses such as Christie’s and Bonhams.

There is a considerable following for Telechron clocks and, although there is no official Telechron clubs or societies, there are numerous clock specialist forums found on website such as Telechron.net, Clockguy.com and Abbeyclock.com that are a great source of information regarding repair companies and spare part stockists, the value of items and serial numbers. Additionally, websites, such as Telechronclock.com, offer affordable deals to repair and restore antique Telechron clocks.

Notable Sales

A Telechron copper digital clock designed by the German furniture designer Kem Weber was sold at the New York branch of Christie’s in December 1991 for £242.

In June 1994, a circa 1930 Telechron brushed silver, brass and bakelite mantel clock, designed by the Austrian Art-Deco furniture designer Paul Frankl, realised a price of $1,840 at Christie’s, New York.

A vintage Art-Deco Telechron 711 electric alarm clock was sold in January 2012 for $24.75 on eBay.

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