Thursday, 9 May 2013

Something Old, Something New: Timeless Clocks

This fortnight's Something Old, Something New is going to be a trip back in time - quite literally. I'll be showing you some of the best vintage and vintage-inspired clocks out there. Design lovers will already be aware of the clocks still manufactured today with a long and impressive heritage, such as the still instantly recognisable Mondaine Swiss Railway clock, dating back to the 1940s, or George Nelson's 1948 Ball Clock, every bit as covetable today. There are lots of fantastic one-off vintage pieces available if you search around too, whether it's a kitsch diner number or vintage soviet desk lamp you're after. 

OLD: 1960s Starburst clockI Know Stella on Etsy, £95; NEW: Pluto clockNewgate£85

Alongside the Ball Clock, perhaps no other design says mid-century than the impressive starburst design. I'd be proud to hang either of these designs on my wall. The one on the left is a sixties original, from Isleworth's based Etsy seller, I Know Stella. The impressively retro number on the right is made by Newgate, a company who specialise in retro-style clock designs, and a great place to start if you're looking for an unusual timepiece. 


It's the influence of the Mondaine clock, but there's something so appealing - and, not to mention, efficient looking - about those blocky divisions of time. The design was so successful because it meant people could tell the time from a distance. The clock on the left, for example, dates from the 1950s and comes from a Czech factory. Just imagine how many people must have clock-watched using this over its long history! 



I'm guilty of using my mobile as my alarm clock but I'm going to mend my ways after seeing all the gorgeous vintage alarm clocks available online. The 1950s number on the right is so cute, it'll make waking up each morning a pleasure (well, almost). The Debenhams number looks suitably aerodynamic should you find getting up less of a thrill.

TOP, OLD: 1960s wall clockH is for Home, £45; BOTTOM, NEW: Mornington Acctim wallclockBHS, £25

More lovely vintage-style colours in these two true blue clocks. The 1960s design shown at the top of the image is made by Metamec, a British company who clearly used to make a lot of clocks (they also made the starburst clock at the top of the post). And, although the bottom clock is brand new, there's some heritage behind the design too. It's made by Acctim, an American company which dates back to 1929. 

Also, tell me: is there a convention amongst clock sellers that the hands should be set at ten to two, or ten past ten? That's the time on 6/10 clocks in this feature...


It really is a case of spot the difference on these final two designs. The new design on the right is apparently based on a 1950s original: could it be the General American one on the left? The shape of the hands, and the red second hand, as well as the colour and shape of the casing are so similar. The one on the left is a little bit more time worn, and the rim is made from bakelite - something you're not going to get in newer designs - but does that make it worth roughly double the price of the newer number? The answer, OF COURSE, is that only time will tell. 

5 comments:

  1. I think a jeweller told me once that display clocks and watches are always set to 10 to 2 (or 2.10) because then the face 'smiles' and looks friendly. And they always are, look in any jeweller's or clock shop's window.

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    1. That's all I'm EVER going to see now.

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    2. Amazing. A big smiley face from me to that!

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    3. That and you can see the company's logo clearly

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  2. Have Debenhams started selling vintage items now? ; )

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