Call it a grandfather clock or a grandmother clock, yet in many instances they may be the identical free-standing floor clock with an enclosed floor clock movement and weight-driven and have a swinging pendulum.. At 1-800-4CLOCKS.com, we typically differentiate between a grandmother clock and a grandfather clock based simply on a height above approximately 80 to 82 inches, which we generally (but not always) term a grandfather clock, and those longcase clocks which are below 80 to 82 inches in height which we generally (and again not always) term grandmother clocks. That is the simple difference between grandfather clocks and grandmothers clocks. It is important to note we would also take other factors into account, and that many clock experts would not agree with this definition. But it is this kind of debate on the difference between grandmothersclocks and grandfather clocks that make the clock industry and horology a dynamic and ever-evolving field where experts can reasonably agree, or agree to disagree, or neither, about not only grandfather clocks and grandmother clocks definitions, but also many other aspects including dozens of topics surrounding new and antique grandfather clocks, antique grandmother clocks, antique wall clocks, and antique mantel clocks. In fact, on mantle clocks, there could reasonably be a spirited debate around whether these should be called mantle clocks or mantle clocks. An overly simplified distinction would be whether one is in Europe or North America, where Europeans generally favor mantle clocks and Americans generally favor mantel clock, whether new or antique mantle clocks.
Established high-end clock-makers like Howard Miller Clocks have cleverly avoided the debate by referring to all the biggest clocks they sell as Floor Clocks, so the question never even comes up, or at least is answered, by looking at Howard Miller marketing materials. Ridgeway Grandfather Clocks and Ridgeway Grandmother clocks also avoid that same dubious distinction with Ridgeway Clocks also referring to their clocks as Ridgeway Floor Clocks. Hermle Clocks only sold grandfather clocks and grandmother clocks by advertising them all as Floor Clocks. Very recently, within the last year or so, Hermle Clocks has started to term their floor clocks all grandfather clocks, leaving it to their clock customers and Authorized Hermle Clock Dealers to make any distinction they so choose. Kieninger Clocks has also followed a similar method as Howard Miller, with all of their largest clocks being named Kieninger Floor Clocks unless their Authorized Dealers, like us at 1-800-4CLOCKS.com, choose to advertise and point to certain models in-store as Kieninger Grandfather Clocks and Kieninger Grandmother Clocks. Given the ownership between Howard Miller Clocks, Kieninger Clocks, and Ridgeway Clocks is all jointly owned, it is not terribly surprising that Howard Miller Grandfather Clock might be described similarly by Ridgeway Clocks and Kieninger Clock as Ridgeway Floor Clocks, Howard Miller Floor Clocks and Kieninger Floor Clocks.
Grandmother Clocks will typically have mechanical clock movements similar or identical to grandfather clocks. Grandfather clocks and grandmother clocks will also typically have the same clock chimes, with Westminster Chimes being the most popular, and triple chime grandfather clocks which most frequently also include the Whittington Chime and St Michaels Chime. Sometimes the triple chime floor clocks might instead include Beethovens Ave Maria or Schuberts Ode to Joy, as the 2nd or 3rd chime options. These are invariably almost always on cable-driven grandfather clocks and cable-driven grandmother clocks. Chain-driven grandfather clocks and chain-driven grandmother clocks will generally have a single chime, almost always Westminster Chimes, and will also generally have fewer of what might be considered “bells and whistle” features and grandfather clock extras or options like automatic nighttime shutoff, illuminated grandfather clock dials, rotating moonphase dials, and lit cabinets.
Now are there some unique grandmother clock designs which would lead us to classify certain floor clocks over 80 to 82 inches in height to actually be grandmother clocks, and the answer is absolutely yes. They would include the grandmother clock design as the basic framing clock categorization element. Having said that, there are also certain floor clocks below 80 to 82 inches in design they we would think might be better termed grandfather clocks. This is especially true for antique grandfather clocks and antique grandmother clocks. Are the floor clocks or tall case clocks which we think could or should reasonably be considered to be called either or both of grandmother clocks and grandfather clocks? The answer is an unequivocal yes, and for parallel logic reasons already highlighted above.
At 1-800-4CLOCKS, we were also proud to have introduced (and trademarked) several years ago grandson clocks™ . As many readers of this clock blog will undoubtedly know, granddaughter clocks have been around for centuries and have become part of the clocks and horological lexicon. Most simply put, they are much shorter than grandmother clocks and grandfather clocks. We expect and hope that grandson clocks will one day be as widely known and the clock definition and term as widespread in use.
We also at 1-800-4CLOCKS make an effort to make shopping for relatively short grandmother clocks or relatively taller grandfather clocks to be relatively easy by having created separate categories for grandfather clocks and grandmother clocks. While on the one hand this initially confuses some of our clock shopping customers in that they see the same clock under 2 categories, customers quickly recognize that this is much easier than calling the same clock by different names. See for yourself by visiting the following 2 links below each picture: