A Celebration of the Carriage Clock
Carriage clocks have enthralled antique collectors for decades.
Their brief but unique history makes these clocks incredible collector’s items.
Polished Brass Carriage Clock, circa 1890
Carriage clocks, also called “officer’s clocks,” were first developed in the beginning of the 19th century. Abraham-Louis Breguet, a well known French clockmaker, created the first carriage clock for Emperor Napoleon in 1812. These clocks were designed to be traveled with, and were built to sustain the rapid movements of a 19th century carriage. Carriage clocks were built to be durable, which is why so many continue to be fully functional over 150 years after they were made.
French Polychrome Enameled Carriage Clock, circa 1870
Though these carriage clocks were built with amazing durability, many clockmakers also decorated them with unique designs. Nature scenes and portraits were created in enamel, and clock cases were engraved intricately on the panels. Many of these clocks were made with a corresponding leather or wood case to keep it safe, but today it is quite rare to find a surviving carriage clock case.
French Carriage Clock by Richard & Co, circa 1890
The demand for carriage clocks rose quickly during the late 19th century. The discovery of a system for carriage clock mass-production made it easier for everyone to own a carriage clock. Often these clocks were made with large numerals and exaggerated hands, making it easier for the owner to tell the time from across a room. Some carriage clocks even chimed on the hour or hour and half hour.
Carriage Clock by Charles Oudin, circa 1890
Today, carriage clocks are highly prized by history lovers and antique collectors. Historically, they are given as gifts to retiring employees by their employers. They also make wonderful gifts for Father’s Day an anniversary or a significant birthday.