Self Winding Clock Company of New York

This is a battery powered clock movement by the Self Winding Clock Company of New York.

Self Winding Clock Company of New York

Self Winding Clock Company of New York

Self Winding Clock Company History

This company was formed in 1886 by Charles Pratt with Henry Chester Pond. The design was based on automatically winding the clock each hour with a motor powered by two 1-1/2 volt dry cells located in the case.

The advantage of this high-quality, pendulum-controlled movement, combined with the constant driving force of the small, frequently wound mainspring, was that it yielded a highly accurate clock subject to minimal wear.

Nationally Synched

An optional attachment allowed the clocks to be synchronized by hourly U.S. Naval Observatory time signals sent over Western Union telegraph lines. The railroads needed to coordinate among their stations (and among each other lest two trains sharing a stretch of track shared it too closely).

In 1883, the Naval Observatory agreed to telegraph standard railway time, a great boon for Western Union, who would then install and maintain the machines for a monthly fee.

These clocks were common in government offices, schools, and other institutions and could be seen in all Western Union telegraph offices.

This is a related and interesting piece by Neal McEwen: “Time, Standard Time, and Western Union.”

I run this clock using two 1.5v batteries in series. The clock is very large and heavy!

Read a bit about our other self-winding clock here.

18 responses to “Self Winding Clock Company of New York

  1. Thanks for the picture and info. I’m working on a Western Union Self windeer currently.

    Do all Western Union Clocks self wind every hour or are some 24 hour or 8 day winders? This one apprears to have a longer time between winds.

    • Thanks for the comment.

      Personally, I have not seen anything other that the 3 volt DC Western Union winding mechanisms. As you know, these movements are equipped with very small mainsprings that are wound with a 3 volt motor. I had my clock set up in my living room for a while and I do not recall hearing the clock winding every hour, I would hear it winding once or twice during the evening.

      I would guess an 8 day or 24 hour self wind clock (if one exists) would require a far more robust mainspring assembly and, subsequently, a larger motor and batteries. The 3 volt movements should run for about 1 year on two 1.5 volt batteries.

      I have seen ‘weight driven’ self winding clocks that have eight day winding cycles, the examples I have seen are AC powered Master Clocks.

      Thanks again!

  2. I need to find the value of a Western Union Self Winding wall clock. Octagon shape, oak case,
    13″ X 13″
    movement number 13878
    Can anybody help me?
    Thank you.

    • Not sure, but you often see these clocks on eBay and the prices listed are usually pretty good benchmarks to the current value. Have you tried that?

  3. Thank you. Yes I have. I was planning to put it on ebay when I found out what it was worth. I looked through hundreds of clocks on ebay and elsewhere online and can’t find one like this. It is octagon shaped with an oak case. Does that mean it is rare and might be worth more?

  4. I have a large wooden case Self Winding Clock Co., New York. It takes two 1.5 batteries, it looks beautiful and works great. I have the number of it. All is original BUT i think someone might of tried to revarish the out side, we were told By the Chicago clock co. years ago that the face of the clock is the most valued part and is in very good shape. looking for a value please help.

    • Face is not nessaserily the most valued part of a clock. All parts collectively make up the value. I’m not an expert in pricing, but you might check ebay for value; sales prices there are often a good guideline.

  5. Kathy Williams

    My father n law worked for Western Union for many years, he hs passed a year ago. he had western union self winding clocks several, we have one of them , maybe 4ft. wall clock with the murcury tubs ( 2 ) for the pindgilum, I cannot find any information on this clock, the facing reads self winding clock , new York. can you help us? we do know it is western Union. he worked there for over 35 years.

    • Thank you for writing! All my research is done on-line. There is lots of info available. My recommendation is start with the basics .. Google Self winding Clock company or Western Union clocks etc etc…

  6. Nancy kortuem

    Help, I need the value of the clock shown in this picture!

  7. I am doing a project on self winding clocks from the date 1750-1850 and who first invented it and how they work… I also need some pictures if possibe… Please let me know asap….

  8. Charlie Plauger

    I Have A Western Union Self Winding Movement No Batteries, Can You Tell Me What The Movement Is Worth And Is There Ever A Demand For One?

    • Thank you for visiting our blog!

      Yes, there is a high demand for such movements. We would suggest selling it on ebay. Depending on your location, they command the highest values in the USA. Sell on ebay USA… not Ebay UK. Research the going rate on eBay at this time before you list it.

  9. I own a Self Winding wall clock that was used in an old railroad station. It is dated 1898. It has started running fast and I have attempted to adjust it with no luck. If I turn the adjustment knob anymore the weights will fall off the pendulum. Any suggestions how to correct this problem?

  10. Richard Barlow

    My father worked for Western Union from the 1950’s as a messenger till his death in 1985 as the south Texas Regional Manager. A real work your way up the ladder story. During this time he saw the decommissioning of the self winding clocks. So it is only natural the he would have acquired one. I have had this Western Union Self Winding Master Clock on my wall since 1985. (Although the walls have changed as I have moved a couple of times) The clock has the F type movement that now does something rather peculiar. When I wind it with the contact button it will wind and move the cam to the point where it will engage the contacts and continue winding until the cam has gone past. The problem is that it will not do this on its own. I should not have to press the contact to get the cam to move. It keeps good time as long as I wind it every hour. Any ideas on how to fix it would be greatly appreciated.

  11. Richard, I too own two of the Western Union Wall clocks, mine are over 48 inches tall. As to your winding problem, mine will do the same thing if the batteries are wearing down. After the batteries are replaced, if you don’t hear a wind within two hours, manually press the contact for a few seconds after you have set the time (manually move hour and minute hands in clockwise direction only, never counterclockwise). This should take care of the problem until the new batteries begin to wear down. My brother was an installation manager with Western Union and oversaw many of the office closings and clock decommissioning. Hard to believe Western Union but these glorious clocks on their “trash” list, isn’t it?

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