Choosing Between Fixing, Repairing or Restoring an Antique Clock
Typically, an antique clock can be made to run employing many different techniques. When forming my opinion as to how I could add value to my client’s treasured timepieces, I defined three basic categories. While there is value in all three approaches, I feel my greatest contribution is in the area of Restoration.
Fixing Your Antique Clock
In the era when it was essential to have a mechanical clock to determine when to be somewhere, the requirement was that the clock ran and kept time. It was a tool, if you will, that when worn completely out was discarded and replaced. When it quit working, the method used to return its function was not so important to the person who owned the clock. He was more interested in how long he would be without his clock. “Fixing” the clock was the point without regard to the impact the fix had on the longevity of the clock. After all, if it didn’t work it had little or no value.
Repairing Your Antique Clock
Now, there are many alternatives for telling time other than a mechanical clock, most being more accurate and convenient. Virtually all mechanical clock manufacturers are out of business with very few exceptions. Therefore antique mechanical clocks have been transformed from essential tools to pieces of art to be admired. In my opinion they represent a time when the design and history should be respected. The criteria used in making repairs shifts from making clocks work by any method at hand to preserving their lifespans. Since there are very few new curriculums based on preservation and no degree required to work on clocks, many in the business were trained by mentors who learned in the era when clocks were simply tools. There are some best practice methods held by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, NAWCC, American Watch and Clock Institute, AWCI and the British Horological Institute, BHI but they are also steeped in methods of a bygone era. Adhering to preservation techniques I define as Repairing a clock.
Restoring Your Antique Clock
In a clock’s history there were likely repairs and/or fixes performed. Depending on the techniques used, there may be corrections to those former actions necessary for the performance stability or longevity. The correction of those repairs/fixes might still fall under my definition of a repair, while a correction made to an old repair just due to it being visible and a deviation from the original design would constitute a Restoration in my opinion. If a condition exists that does not impact the performance but is visible, the owners of the clock might choose to leave the condition in the interest of preserving the history of that clock. Or they might choose to have the former repair corrected to remove the evidence of the failure that motivated the corrective action in the first place. Restoration decisions are more frequent on high value clocks. I have the tooling and expertise to employ techniques mimicking the original manufacturing techniques producing results necessary to restore high value clocks to like new condition.