Restoring an Antique Waltham Car Clock

I’ve said this before, now and then, something fun and wonderful shows up in the shop and today was one of those days.  This Waltham car clock (15 jewels, 8 day) showed up a couple of days ago for service.   This clock is probably one of the best examples of a working car clock from the 1930s or 1940s, and other than a couple of minor repairs to the winding stem tube, the clock is in great shape.

Being down here in Florida, I sometimes think that I would see more of these, but, if they have to come in from Florida, that works for me too…  LOL.

If you need tools, or other items related to watch repairs and 3d printing, click here to check out my Amazon Page!

In the video below, you will see the full service of this clock, and how much fun I had fixing it…  Enjoy.

Watch the Video Here!

History of Car Clocks!

I’m going to be honest, I don’t personally know a lot about these antique car clock’s history.  I know that for just about as long as we’ve had cars, and other moving vehicles, we have put clocks in them…  Sometimes, I don’t want one in my car, as it can make me feel late for where ever I have to go….  Perhaps that is why I’m always early for appointments!

However, I can tell you that Waltham, Elgin and Westclock were the major players in the civilian car clock industry, and all of them produced clocks for major American Auto manufacturers well into the 1950s.  The 8 day clock was a mechanical clock modeled after the common pocket watches, but, were modified to use two springs in some cases, which extended the running time of the clocks.

Some Images

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Why is the Stem On the Bottom?

Well, I would love to think that everyone knows all the answers, but sadly, no one has all the answers!  That’s why we use the internet, or read books (Read, it makes you smarter).

You’ll note that most car clocks from the early 1900s to the mid 1940s had the winding stem located on the bottom side of the clock, or running down from the bottom of the clock face from the Six o’clock position.  This was because the stem and crown usually stuck out of the underside of the dash board of the car or truck it was mounted in.

It, however, will work just like a watch (from that era).  To wind, just turn the crown, to set, pull the crown down and turn…  Simple…. 

The best part, it is an 8 day clock, and all you have to do, is wind it… a lot… and it will run for a week!

The End of an Era!

In the late 1940s and quickly into the 1950s, six volt car systems being popular, worked well for retrofitting electric clocks into the dash of almost any vehicle, and at an affordable price.

The fact that, you could mound the electric clock anywhere on the dash, was a design dream, and of course, we no longer had to handle allowing the user to wind the clock on a weekly basis.

So, the end of the mechanical car clock happened.


Car clocks from the early 1900s to the 1950s are very collectable.  Especially with all the people restoring cars from that era.  Most of the time, the cars are stored in harsh environments and rust away, seize up or get lost. 

Collectors are always looking for these antiques, and since they were lost to all kinds of issues, they have become rare.  

Prices can be all over the price board.  I’ve seen inexpensive clocks go for a lot of money as they can be difficult to find.  It is also hard to find them in working condition.  Luckily, many of these car clocks can be serviced and restored easily.  Much more easily than many of the clocks I see from cars made in the 1960s and 70s!

If you are lucky to get your hands on one, scarf it up…  They are worth having in your collection.

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