Masthead

Two things in my life that are beautiful, temperamental, and far more trouble than their worth: Jaguar automobiles and mechanical anniversary clocks. As much as I curse them when I work on them, the temperamental aspect is strange part of the charm. Battery-powered anniversary clocks look pretty but they seem phoney and cheap; anyone can replace a battery when it goes bad. But a mechanical one requires some effort—a commitment, to keep it going.

I have several because I bought them cheap; it's very common to find them with a broken or ruined hair spring, which can be replaced. In theory, it's a relatively simple job. If you don't adjust the pallets, it's mainly about getting the right size spring and oiling it properly. In practice—it seems like they stop running because they overheard something and their feelings got hurt.

Anniversary clocks get their name by having 400 day movements, which means you (ideally) wind them once a year. I usually wind mine twice a year—typically on the Summer and Winter solstice because it's easy for me to remember.

Most of the photos here are without the glass domes simply to make the photography easier.

Kundo

Kundo, plain black face Kundo - metallic face Kundo

Kundo is a German company. It's actually K und O, short for Keininger und Obergfell, and between them and Schatz they're responsible for 90% of the mechanical anniversary clocks you're ever likely to see. I have several Kundos and even though they differ mechanically here and there, they only real difference is the artwork on the face. I believe, in fact, that the faces on many are interchangable. Kundo made a large number of faces with small variations:. for instance, plain black, black with a flowers, plain white, white with flowers, and so on. Don't like one? Swap it out.

I have at one more of these that is not pictured. It's in storage, and at the moment I can't recall what the face looks like.

As I type this, only one of mine runs—the one with the decorated black face (upper right). For awhile they all did, but my father was complaining that he thinks his most recent batch of clock oil turns gummy after awhile. Next time I clean and oil them, I'm going to try Mobil 1 synthetic motor oil.

Master Special

Master Special anniversary clockThis one is Japanese, not German. This is the most frustrating of the bunch because it just does not want to keep running. Could be the oil problem. Could just be a bad design. It's nice because the clock face doesn't look like the typical German stuff, but it also looks like shiny plastic. The lighting here adds a lot of contrast. Under normal lighting I find that the hands tend to disappear, and it's hard to read at a glance.

Once interesting feature that this has is the method to suspend the pendulum. On the Kundos you have to lift the pendulum up and push a clasp to "catch" it and suspend it. On this one, there's a little tab that sticks out at the bottom of the base. You push that all the way to the right, and it lifts a cup that's just under the pendulum. The cup lifts the pendulum up enough to take the weight off the spring. The pendulum can still flop around, unlike the Kundos, but if you're reasonably careful no harm will be done. It works nicely, and it's one-handed.

©opyright by James Ollinger. All Rights Reserved.