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Question Box

From Horology magazine, July1938

Question Box
Double Faced Clock

Editor Horology,
Dear Sir:
I would like to get some information in regard to the following problem that I had last week.

I have a Swiss 8 day clock with two faces, that is, it has two dials, one on each side of the clock. The movement is exactly the same as a regular watch with the exception of the connection of the minute wheel which is also on both sides of the movement, fastened by a shaft that goes through the movement.

Now here comes the trouble. One side of the clock shows the time, say exactly 3 o'clock, but the other side of the clock shows 3 minutes past 3 o'clock. This, a3 far as I can see, comes from the amount of play in the gearing. This amount is by all means correct and nothing can be altered there. After the clock has run for 3 minutes the hands of both dials are together again. But, should one set this clock from the other side of the movement, that is, from the extra dial, he will set his clock at the correct time, but the hand will not start moving until after 3 minutes, thereby making the clock 3 minutes too slow right from the start.

The only possible way that I find to eliminate the error is by setting the hands of the clock backwards and then it seems to be alright. The extra minute wheel, has a friction spring underneath it. I have tried to remedy this by adjusting this friction, but to no avail.

Your opinion on this problem would be greatly appreciated, as I am not sure if this clock always did this or not. One cannot tell on which side the balance wheel is or the cannon pinion when the clock is all assembled into its case as both sides are exactly alike.

A. P.

Answer: The construction of these clocks is such that the hands on one side will always be several minutes behind the others because of the backlash in the gearing. For this there is no remedy.

Ship's Bell Strike 

Editor Horology, 
Dear Sir:
Will you kindly explain in your Question Box how to set the hands on a ship's bell clock, the kind that does not strike the full 12 hours.

Answer: The striking mechanism of a ship's bell clock divides a day into 6 four hour periods, beginning at 12, 4, 8, etc.  At the beginning of any of these periods, at 12 o'clock for example, it strikes 8 times. Then at 12 :30 it strikes 1 bell, at 1 :00 it strikes 2 bells, etc., until at 4 :00 0' clock it again strikes 8 bells and the cycle repeats itself.

Mainspring Too Strong 

Editor Horology, 
Dear Sir:
I have an --- watch which is constantly rebanking. It already has the thinnest mainspring which I could obtain and yet the power still seems to be too great. It starts to rebank when it is wound up only half way. Can you tell me how to overcome this difficulty?

H. R. S.

Answer: The proper method of preventing the watch from rebanking is to use a weaker mainspring. Even though the size is not to be had already provided with a brace, an ordinary Swiss spring can be cut to length and the old brace riveted to it. Another method is to replace the balance staff with one having larger pivots and jewels to correspond.


The highest mark in the watch trials for 1937 at the National Physical Laboratory (Teddington, England) was again obtained by the Omega Watch Company with 97.3 points. The best chronometer was submitted by Thomas Mercer, whose chronometers have received the highest marks since 1928.
It is interesting to note that of the 63 watches whose rates are given in the official report 9 were tourbillons, all made by Patek, Philippe & Co.


Under this title an interesting book on the evolution and history of English domestic clocks has been published. Only a very limited number of copies of this work by H. Alan Lloyd have been privately printed.

The connoisseur and collector of clocks will appreciate the numerous details calculated to facilitate the placing and dating of old clocks. The book contains many beautiful illustrations of pieces in such well known collections as C. A. IIbert, ]. Wainwright, and the South Kensington Museum. 

Copies of this volume may be obtained from Malcolm Gardner, 3 Earnshaw St., New Oxford St., London, W. C. 2, at the price of 6/4d (approximately $1.60). 

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