British Horological Institute
British Horological Institute

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. How much is my clock worth?
  2. I've over-wound my clock and now it won't run. What do I do?
  3. How do I find someone in my area to fix my clock?
  4. I want to fix it myself but where do I find parts?
  5. I have many more questions... Where can I go?
  6. I'm interested in going into the clock repair business...
  7. How much will it cost to restore my clock?
  8. What do the credentials "CMC" mean?
  9. What do the credentials "FBHI" mean?

How much is my clock worth?

Answer: A wonderful resource for determining value is E-Bay. Search for your clock under "Completed Items" and see what turns up. If you are trying to value a piece you are interested in purchasing, take into account how much you like the clock and whether you ever intend to resell it. Antique clocks, 100 years old or older, are sure to hold their value and be enjoyed for generations. If you need to determine the value for insurance purposes, contact one of the bigger auction houses like Sotheby's or Christie's.

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I've over-wound my clock and now it won't run. What do I do?

Answer: When a clock stops after being fully wound it is an indication the movement is in need of service. Over the years, people have figured out that if you don't wind up your dirty, dry mainsprings fully, they will still unwind and run the clock. Dirty and dry mainsprings are really sticky, and when you compress the old dirty lubricant, (that is, when fully wound) the mainspring will virtually stick to itself and not unwind. The simple solution is to service the mainsprings, but if the mainsprings are that dirty and dry, then the rest of the movement will probably need attention as well.

So, if the mainsprings are serviced properly and aren't sticky, you can't wind your clock too tight. In fact, your clock will run better and more consistently if fully wound on a regular basis, rather than trying to guess by counting winds to determine when you are close to fully wound.

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How do I find someone in my area to fix my clock?

Answer: The American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute has a referral directory which allows you to search for a professional in your area. If you can't find what you are looking for there, the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc. may have a chapter close by. Local NAWCC chapters are made up of clock collectors and professionals who meet regularly to educate, train, and trade. Click here for a list of chapters. I don't recommend sending clocks through the postal service if it can be helped. You will be much better off working with a local horologist you can meet with face-to-face.

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I want to fix it myself but where do I find parts?

Answer: Not all parts are available. A professional clockmaker has the ability to manufacture parts in such a way that they are indistinguishable from the original. NAWCC marts are a good source for original parts, but a large number of reproduciton parts can be found from suppliers. Here is a list of some suppliers' web sites. Not all of them sell to the public, however.

If you are going to fix it yourself, remember Safety First!

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I have many more questions on a wide variety of subjects including watches. Is there a good resource available to help me?

Answer: Yes! The NAWCC sponsers a Message Board which has attained world wide acclaim. You can do a search by clicking on the "Find" tab to see if your question has been addressed in a previous posting, or start a new topic to avail yourself of the knowledgeable people available. And you don't have to be a member to use it!

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I'm interested in going into the clock repair business. Where can I go to get training?

Answer: AWCI is the only establishment in the US which certifies professionals. They have home study courses, in-house training at their facility in Ohio, and professionals who travel around the country and do training. BHI, based in England, also certifies professionals and has a home study course as well in-house training. Both institutes turn out some of the finest professionals in the business but their course studies are demanding.

The NAWCC's School of Horology is another resource for education. Although not able to professionally certify their students, it is a wonderful training ground for those interested. The school's disclaimer reads "The Avocational courses and the Specialty courses do not fall under the School's accreditation with ACCSCT. These courses are strictly taken as hobbyist courses or courses to further enhance the knowledge of people working in the industry." The NAWCC also has field suitcase courses which are organized through local NAWCC chapters around the country.

Just recently, About Time has begun to publish clockmaking classes live on Saturdays, and we also sell classes on DVD. Visit Clock for more information, or to watch the live feed for free.

There are a number of books available if you are unable to afford schooling and would like to be self taught. The best books are DeCarle's "Clock Repair" and Goodrich's "The Modern Clock". These are available on-line from Arlington Books.

The only other way to learn the trade is to become an apprentice to a clockmaker. Ask around and see if there is anyone willing to train you but don't be disappointed if you don't find someone. Persons who are qualified to take on an apprentice, and have the time to do so, are few and far between.

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How much will it cost to restore my clock?

Answer: This is a very important question and unfortunately, it can't be answered without a complete hands-on examination of the piece. There is no average restoration cost since there is no average restoration. The cost of the restoration is dependant upon how much wear and damage is present and this varies widely from clock to clock. Plus, a face-to-face meeting will allow the clockmaker to explain what must be done to bring your clock back to pristine condition.

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What do the credentials "CMC" mean?

Answer: CMC stands for "Certified Master Clockmaker". This is the American Watchmakers/Clockmakers Institute's (AWCI) highest level of certification for clock restoration. Persons with this title have proven to the industry, through a series of theoretical and practical exams, that they are professionally qualified to restore clocks of all types. Visit AWCI if you'd like more information on how to become a CMC.

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What do the credentials "FBHI" mean?

Answer: FBHI stands for "Fellow of the British Horological Institute". This is the British Horological Institute's highest grade of horologist and is realized through years of testing and advancement through several grade levels. Persons with this designation have proven to the BHI that they are dedicated to the advancement of horology and have above average skills at restoring historically important timepieces. For more information, contact the BHI. A note from a third party: Only a handful of people in the world have earned both CMC and FBHI levels of certification.

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Click here to visit the BHI Home Page. Click here to visit the NAWCC Home Page. Click here to visit the AWCI Home Page. Click here to visit