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Grandfather Clocks

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Grandfather Clocks

If you visit an old hotel or an old stately home, the chances are you will come across a grandfather clock – tall and imposing, and designed to tell the time and mark every hour with the chime of a large pendulum which makes up the majority of the decorative appearance of the clock.

How are grandfather clocks made?

If you look at the interior of a grandfather clock, the mechanism that makes it chime and makes the pendulum move can appear to be extremely complex – featuring a variety of springs and gears which all rely on each others’ accuracy of movement in order to work correctly. The clock itself is made up of the clock face at the top, the weights concealed inside, and the pendulum which hands on show and provides the main basis of the structure and aesthetic appearance. The pendulum of a large grandfather clock is set to swing once every two seconds – something which relies on the working parts moving together to ensure the weight is able to fall to the correct level to swing the pendulum; and it’s all based on the winding of the clock. When you wind the clock up, you pull a cord which lifts a weight – giving the weight the ‘potential energy’ needed to cause the wing of the pendulum.

Of course, the size of the pendulum itself is enough to affect the frequency of its swing – but when it comes to aesthetics and the appearance of the clock, it seems that the larger the pendulum is, the better.

Why should I buy one for a modern home?

Grandfather clocks are most notably associated with traditional homes filled with grand furniture and dark wood details. Why then would you choose to invest in one for a modern home?

The first reason is a term called ‘radical juxtaposition’, which is a concept used both in interior styling and in areas of writing, filmmaking and song writing. Radical juxtaposition is where two contrasting things are put together to create a really bold statement, for example placing a traditional and ornate grandfather clock in amongst a neutral and simple modern home style. This provides the grandfather clock with the perfect background against which to stand out, and ensures that the clock does not become lost in similar surroundings – as is often the case in dark traditional homes.

The fact is, those who buy a grandfather clock do so to make a design statement – and surrounding it with pale colours and neutral designs is the best way to create a focal feature.

Things to consider when buying a grandfather clock

One of the key things to consider is the size of the grandfather clock and whether it will fit in your space. While we have already heralded the value of juxtaposing features in stylistic designs, it is important not to select an item so large that it completely overpowers the space and ruins the aesthetic value. This can be counteracted with the colouring or material of your grandfather clock, with paler woods or painted colours toning down the appearance a little to help it blend into a more neutral space

The other thing to consider is the noise made by the constantly swinging pendulum - in a small house in particular where this kind of consistent noise can become quite overwhelming and all encompassing. Make sure you do your research before buying, and ensure you are getting a clock which is the right size for your space. For the best selection of grandfather clocks, head to homeware stylists, specialist clock retailers and second-hand stores.

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