Self Winding Clock Company
The Self Winding Clock Company was one of the largest manufacturers of clocks in America from the late-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.
Located in New York City with a satellite branch in Chicago, Illinois, the Self Winding Clock Company is most famous for producing the series of four nine metre diameter clock faces that adorn the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower in New York.
The company also commissioned products for organisations such as the Western Union and produced clocks for London Underground stations at Tooting Bec and Balham. Although the actual clock parts themselves were made by the Self Winding Clock Company, these clocks were actually fitted by companies such as H.C. Thompson, Seth Thomas and Howard.
Formed in 1886 by Henry Chester Pond and Charles Pratt, the Self Winding Clock Company based its design on automatically winding clocks each hour with motor powered dry cells located in the case. The company testified that this pendulum controlled movement, combined with the continual driving force of the frequently wound mainspring, would yield an exceptionally accurate clock subject to the least amount of wear.
The company also gave an optional accessory, which allowed their clocks to be synchronized each hour via U.S. Naval Observatory times signals that were sent over Western Union telegraph lines. In 1883, the Naval Observatory agreed to telegraph standard railway time, which dramatically aided Western Union, who at the time happened to own the Self Winding Clock Company.
Guide for collectors
The Self Winding Clock Company played an important role in horological history from the late-nineteenth century until well into the mid-twentieth century. The company provided dependable time synchronization across the country that was unmatched. The Self Winding Clock Company serviced factories, schools, transport stations, government offices and were seen in the offices of numerous business.
During the 1960s, many of the clocks were decommissioned and ever since, there has become a steadily increasing community of collectors.
One of the main attributes of products manufactured by the Self Winding Clock Company was their durability and robust build quality. Most cases were assembled from high quality lumber and were designed with intricate carvings and appointed with bevelled glass. The movements were ruggedly constructed with thick plates. However, collectors should be aware that many of these clocks are one hundred years old and require parts and mechanisms which only specialists and clock professionals may be able to locate. Spare parts and restoration information can be found on the following websites; Kensclockclinic.com and Electric-clocks.com.
Instances of pieces made by the Self Winding Clock Company on the market are extremely rare and at present, have not featured at either Christie’s or Bonhams. Collectors are most likely to find these clocks for sale at online clock dealers such as Antiqueclockspriceguide.com or online bidding websites such as eBay.
An early-twentieth century Self Winding Clock Company wall regulator clock was sold at Cottonauctions.com for $900. Constructed out of walnut and equipped with a brass self-winding movement, the piece exceeded its presale estimate of $300 to $800.
In January 2012, a Western Union Self Winding Clock Company was sold for $25 on eBay. The item merely consisted of a clock face and was without its mechanisms and clock hands.
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