How Do You Wind Up a Mantel Clock?

How Do You Wind a Mantel Clock?

Many timepieces in the Chelsea mantel clock collection have a mechanical movement. This clock technology dates back to about 1300, giving these clocks a truly nostalgic feeling that is still appreciated among those who prefer vintage timekeeping. Because of their classic design, mechanical mantel clocks need to be wound weekly, or else all they are is a pretty-looking statue on a shelf.

Many of our traditional Chelsea clocks feature a mechanical movement as well. As noted above, mechanical clocks trace their roots back to the Renaissance era (which began in the 14th century), and they are still popular today. These clocks require weekly winding and setting, which may seem difficult or daunting to new mechanical clock owners. Fortunately, this act often quickly becomes a tradition that clock enthusiasts look forward to as they master the art of winding a clock!

We have developed this guide to help you learn how to wind a clock as easily and efficiently as possible. Before you know it, you won't even need to consult a guide to wind a clock! Enjoy this guide to help answer some questions you may have about how to wind a clock.

Mantel Clock Key

Winding Mantel Clocks

Those who take care of their mantel clock regularly will enjoy decades of accurate time, allowing you to make the most of your beautiful mantle mechanical clock. Read on to learn how to perform the initial winding, how often to wind your mantel clock, and how to fix common winding problems. Also, feel free to contact us if you have any lingering questions about the winding process after you've finished reading the guide.

While there are some differences in mechanical clocks from brand to brand, the general initial steps are usually the same. However, this guide will be most applicable for those who are working with an authentic Chelsea clock. If you have a mechanical clock made by a different company that doesn't fit with the instructional guide below, be sure to reach out to the clock manufacturer for help.

Mechanical striking clocks are shipped from the factory with a "stop-tube" placed in one of their winding arbors. This tube stops the clock from running, keeping it from striking during shipping, as well as preventing the strike mechanism from jamming when the clock fully winds down. We recommend that you keep this "stop-tube" in a safe place and place it in the clock when you will be away traveling and unable to wind the clock.

Your clock was fully wound when leaving the factory, so you will begin the winding process by removing the stop tube and setting the time. It is best to set the time by advancing the minute hand forward, pausing to allow the clock to strike at every hour and half hour. Never move the hand while the clock is striking, and never move the hour hand independently.

Mechanical mantel clocks typically feature at least two winders: one for the mainspring that keeps time, and the rest for the chime and strike mechanisms. Each one can be wound using the key that comes with the clock. We recommend inserting the key into the slots and winding one at a time, starting with the chime mechanism(s), which you can usually wind completely by turning clockwise.

All Chelsea clocks are fully wound, set to the Eastern time zone, and stopped with a stop tube before we ship them. If you have a new clock, vintage clock, or live in another time zone, you will need to adjust the time accordingly. To do this, gently and slowly move the minute hand in a clockwise direction. Stop at the appropriate chime or strike intervals and let them complete in full before continuing. It is best to wind the clock before setting the time. Should you find the hands to be jammed up and frozen, do not force them. See tips section below for more information on how to handle this problem.

Regular Mantel Clock Winding

Your clock will need to be wound and set every seven days. While this may seem bothersome at first, winding clocks is one of the greatest pleasures of being a mechanical clock owner as you repeat and master your new routine. It is a small break during your week to help you truly appreciate your clock.

When winding your clock, it is very important that you are winding it fully. To wind the clock fully, turn the key until it will not go any further. Do not be nervous about "over-winding" your clock. Contrary to the eternal "over-winding" myths, it is not possible to over-wind your clock's mainspring. With practice, you will become accustomed to how many turns of the key are required for a full winding. If you do encounter winding problems, its likely that your clock is in need of service. The clock mainsprings are quite powerful and should be professionally addressed when problems arise.

Choose a clock winding day that works best for you, and keep your schedule in mind so that you know that you will generally be around on the day you will need to wind your clock. Traditionally, Sunday is a very popular day for clock winding.

Our fully wound clock is designed to run 8 days, but it is standard practice for best performance to wind the clock every seven days. You'll find a weekly winding routine easy to keep track of in your schedule. Wind the clock at approximately the same time of day each time. You should never wind a clock within 10 minutes of a chime or strike, as this period is when gears and levers fall into position.

Clock Gears

Fixing Mechanical Clock Problems: Tips from Our Expert Clockmakers

Minute Hand Stuck in Place

If you should find that you were away and did not make use of the stop-tube or forgot to find your clock, the movement will be fully wound down. When this occurs, you will likely find that the minute hand is stuck as a result of the strike mechanism becoming jammed.

Unjamming the strike mechanism is quite easy. Gently move the minute hand of your clock counterclockwise by a few minutes. You will likely hear the clock strike, and the mechanism has released. You can then proceed to wind and set your clock as your normally would.

Time Moves at Incorrect Intervals

During assembly or repair, your clock has been carefully regulated and tested. However, the regulation of your clock may drift over time, which may require you to adjust the timekeeping of your clock. Environmental conditions and other factors can also affect timekeeping, warranting slight adjustments.

On the dial, you will find the regulating micrometer wheel or lever. Moving the regulator towards the F will make the clock run faster, and towards the S will make the clock run slower. Just the very slightest adjustment of the regulator can go a long way. Allow the clock to run for a full week, observing its timekeeping before making additional adjustments. Our clocks are designed to run +/- 1-2 minutes per week , and if you are seeing timekeeping within this range, there is no need for an adjustment.

Check out Beautiful Mantle Clocks from Chelsea Clock

A luxury mechanical mantel clock is a refined addition to any home. Shop at Chelsea Clock for time-tested designs such as the Ship's Bell, Harbour Master and Mariner clocks that are handcrafted by our master clockmakers. Or, consider our repair services if you want to repair or restore a beloved mechanical timepiece you already own.