Grandfather clocks

Grandfather Clocks: Cable Driven vs. Chain Driven Mechanical Clocks Movements

10.15.07

One question addressed to 1-800-4CLOCKS.com on a regular basis is what is the difference, and what are the relevant pros and cons of a chain driven grandfather clock vs. cable driven grandfather clocks.

We attempt here to summarize what we see and believe to be the major differences between these two mechanical movements.

At this point in time, all of the mechanical movements for both Chain Driven and Cable Driven Grandfather Clocks that we sell are made in Germany, and are top quality.

Why buy a chain driven grandfather clock? First, we should address the difference between the a chain driven and cable driven grandfather clock. Both have 8 day movements. Cable Driven Grandfather Clocks are wound in the dial, whereas chain driven grandfather clocks are wound once a week by pulling the chains down to brings the clock weights back up again and start the cycle all over again.

Here is our opinion of the advantages of chain driven grandfather clocks vs. cable driven grandfather clocks. First, the clocks which are mechanically chain driven are generally less expensive in price, because they cost less to produce. Second, because chain driven movements are smaller, they tend almost always be made for and installed into smaller grandfather clock cases to fit into smaller spaces (length, height, width) than cable driven grandfather clocks. Many can even be termed Grandmother Clocks because they are generally relatively smaller. Third, we find that people who grew up with Chain Driven Grandfather Clocks tend to have a sentimental attachment to this style — and what better reason could there be for that!

The advantages of Cable Driven Clocks, as we see them, are first, that the movements tend to have a much longer lifespan (but do not forget a chain driven movement can be replaced at relatively low cost), say 50 vs. 100 years with continuous use). Second, one does not have the chains flopping around next to the clocks’ weights and pendulum. Third, the sounds of the chimes may be marginally better with cable driven clocks. Fourth, the chain driven clocks tend to be housed in grandfather clock cases which are not only larger (including height, width and depth), but also both more decorative and elaborate, and expensive.

Howard Miller Grandfather Clocks, as well as Hermle Grandfather Clocks, Ridgeway Floor Clocks, Kieninger Grandfather, and Bulova Grandfather Clocks, all have some selections in these areas.

The good news is that whichever you pick, you are likely to be very satisfied over time!

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