Q: Can you overwind a watch or clock?
A: When the day comes that you wind your clock and it stops or breaks, the first thing you think is that it must your fault! “I think I’ve over-wound my clock or watch!” is the most common thing we hear from customers visiting our shop. But how common is it to really over-wind a clock?
What has actually happened to your mainspring?
Luckily, the truth is that you can’t over-wind your clock or watch. Over-winding is basically a myth! A clock mainspring is made of spring steel and is about the width of a ruler (but not quite as thick). They are on average 7 to 8 feet long! One end of the mainspring hooks on a winding arbor (the thing your key goes onto when you wind it). The other end hooks onto either the inside of a drum or on the corner post of the clock movement.
A mainspring must be fairly clean and have a proper lubricant (typically grease) in order to wind and unwind easily (therefore delivering power). Over the years, the grease will become dry and sticky, and the mainspring may become rusty or corroded. These factors cause friction in the movement of the spring coils. Eventually the spring becomes so dry and gummed up that it can’t release any more, or the spring metal becomes worn out and corroded and may break!
The problem might not lie with the mainspring either, it could be that the lubricants through the rest of the gear train have aged, got contaminated with dust and become thick and sticky. This can increase the friction so that no power can get to the escapement and the clock or watch won't run.
Q: Why do clocks and watches need servicing?
A: Regular service of your timepiece (every 3 to 5 years) ensures your treasured watch or clock is kept in tip-top condition and in good working order. Over time the lubrication deteriorates and attracts impurities, turning into a grinding paste! Minute dirt particles get into the mechanism, which affects the running and causes parts to fail. Regular servicing reduces the risk of this happening.
Q: Why is my clock chiming the wrong hour?
A: When your clock chimes the wrong number of times, your chime is not synchronized time of the clock. To adjust your clock chime, proceed with the following step:
Adjusting the Hourly Chime:
When your clock chimes, count the number of times it chimes. This is what time your hourly striker is set to.
Move the hour hand to the hour indicated by the hourly chime (count the number of gongs at the hour).
Reset the time using the minute hand to the correct hour and the chime should adjust along with the clock hands as well.
Adjusting the Quarter Chime: On most clocks, you can simple remove the minute hand which is friction fit. You have to apply pressure on the tube and it will loosen. Once removed, re-install the minute hand at the correct time. From there you can rotate the minute hand to reset the time.
Q: What does putting a clock in beat mean?
A: What if your clock only runs for ten minutes then stops? Most times this happens because the clock is not "in beat". A clock is "in beat" when the time between each tick and tock is evenly spaced. To determine if your clock is out of beat, start the pendulum swinging and carefully listen to the tick and tock. If it the time between each tick and tock is uneven your clock will not run correctly. If the time between the ticks and the tocks is even your clock is "in beat".
If your clock is not "in beat", there are several things you can try to correct the beat. If your clock is mounted on a wall by a single point, move the bottom of the clock case left or right until the clock sounds "in beat". Professionals will set the case to be level on the wall and adjust the escapement until the clock is "in beat". A Microset clock meter would be used to amplify the sound and provide a digital readout stating the beat percentage error.
The method used to adjust the escapement is different from clock to clock. Since we are experts in clocks, the following pertains to that types of clock with pendulums. Let the pendulum hang in its neutral position and place a piece of masking tape on the case just below the pendulum. Mark the neutral point on the masking tape. Move the pendulum to the left, marking the point where the clock ticks. Next, move the pendulum to the right, marking the point where the clock ticks.
As a rough estimate the two outer makes should be evenly spaced from the centre point. If they are not even, you will need to adjust the escapement until they are even. The best way to do this is to twist the "anchor pallet" on its arbor. However, in most cases, it will be difficult to do that because the anchor is often too tight.
Q: What is entailed in a watch or clock service?
A: When we service your timepiece, it is completely disassembled down to the lowest level and every part is individually inspected. With a mechanical watch having approximately 130 parts and clocks, even more, this process in itself takes time, The parts are cleaned, repaired or replaced where necessary, reassembled, re-lubricated and re-calibrated.
Where applicable, the case and bracelet can also be cleaned and, if required, refinished to an 'as new' condition. The same refinishing process can be applied to quartz watches when a new battery is fitted.
Q: Why isn't my clock running for the full time after winding?
A: If the clock won't run for its due period, you're probably not winding it up fully. So simply wind it until you feel the spring come to a definite stop. Either that or it could need a service.
Q: My clock is running fast or slow how do I adjust the time?
These clocks keep time by counting the number of swings of the pendulum. Shorter pendulums swing faster than longer ones do. To speed up a clock you must make the effective length of the pendulum shorter; to slow down the clock, the pendulum length must be longer. There are two main ways to do this....
Pendulum clocks with a time adjustment nut (Grandfather clocks, most wall clocks, German mantel clocks, shelf clocks, etc.) The adjustment nut is a large nut at the bottom of the pendulum just below the large disk or weight called the bob. To slow down the clock, loosen the adjustment nut (turn it toward your left). The bob will settle lower, making the effective length of the pendulum longer. The clock will run slower. To speed up the clock, tighten the nut (turn it toward your right). The bob will rise, making the effective length of the pendulum shorter and the clock faster.
Pendulum clocks with a time-adjustment arbor (French and American mantel clocks) The time-adjustment arbor is a square shaft that is much smaller than the winding arbors. It is usually located just above the “12” on the dial. However, it is also common to see it below the “12” or even below the arbor that turns the hands. There is usually a small F (Faster) and S (Slower) printed on either side of the dial. French clocks may have an R (Retard) and A (Advance). To make the clock go faster, turn the key toward the F (or A). To make the clock go slower, turn the key toward the S (or R).
The bob on most cuckoo clocks is carved to look like a leaf. It is usually held to the stick by friction. Simply slide the bob up to go faster (speed up), or slide the bob down to go slower (slow down).
The principle here is a little different. Because the pendulum is spinning instead of swinging, the physics are more like those of a figure skater: when the skater’s arms are far from the body, the skater rotates slowly. When the skater pulls her arms in close to her body, the skater rotates rapidly.
On the top of the pendulum is a small disk that is usually marked SF (slower/faster) or RA (retard/advance) with arrows indicating the direction to turn the disk. Turning the disk in the direction of the S forces the weights farther from the centre and the pendulum spins more slowly; turning the disk in the direction of the F forces the weights closer to the centre and the pendulum swings
Some clocks don’t have pendulums but instead have a balance wheel similar to that on a watch. These clocks count the oscillations of the balance wheel, which is attached to a spring. As the wheel turns, it winds the spring. The wheel can only rotate so far in one direction before the force of the spring overcomes the momentum of the wheel and the wheel then reverses direction.
Shorter springs become wound more quickly and reverse the wheel more quickly. There is usually a small lever close to the balance wheel with markings indicating slower (-) or faster (+). Simply move the lever in the appropriate direction. The lever moves along the outer coil and changes the effective length of the spring.
Our new online shop is stocked with hundres of clocks, watches, magazines and spare parts.