It's About Time - August 2017

Questions and answers with timepiece expert Charles Harris

Question 1:

Dear Charles,

I have been looking at buying myself a really good watch. I have seen that "perpetual calendar" models are much more expensive. What exactly are perpetual calendars and why are they so expensive? Amit

Dear Amit,

Regular calendar model watches need to be corrected every month between 30 and 31 day months, not to mention leap years. A perpetual calendar watch automatically corrects the date on the watch for both 30 and 31 day month and also corrects the date for leap years. As I am sure you can imagine the mechanism to do this is very complicated and difficult to manufacture. There are only a few manufactures that offer this complication on their watches.This is the reason for why the watch is very expensive, however to own such a fine mechanism is not unlike owning a Ferrari or a Lamborghini.

Thanks for your question, Charles


Question 2:

Dear Charles,

I have a French Clock that was given to me by my Grandfather. When he gave it to me he gave me a bunch of instructions on how to take care of it. One thing he told me was that I was never to turn the hands backwards, however last week I was in a furniture store looking at a Grandfather clock and the sales person told me that you could turn the hands backwards on the clock. Was my Grandfather wrong in telling me not to turn the hands backwards on my French clock? Brian

Dear Brian, That is actually an excellent question! Turning hands backwards is probably the most mis-understood thing about owning a clock. The short answer is...your Grandfather was correct for the French clock. Each different Antique clock has different rules for turning hands, some you can and some you can not. Most modern clocks have anti-release devices that allow you to turn hands backwards, however that is not always the case on some import clocks. The best advice I can give anyone is to ask a qualified Clockmaker to tell you how to use the hands on your specific clock just to be sure. This way you can be assured that you do not damage your trusted timepiece. On some antique clocks you will damage the movement if you turn the hands backwards.Thanks for your question, Charles.

I want to thank all of you for submitting your questions.

Till next month....Charles.