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Mantel Clocks – A Quick Guide

Mantel ClocksQuartz Mantel ClocksKeywound Mantel Clocks

Mantel Clocks – Selecting a Mantel Clock

There are two basic types of mantel clocks available today which are Quartz Mantel Clocks and Keywound Mantel Clocks .

Quartz Mantel Clocks which are those that are battery operated and do not require any winding. These mantel clocks have become the more popular as they cost less and generally keep better time than a keywound mantel clock.

Quartz mantel clock movement

Quartz mantel clock movement

Most use one or two “C” size batteries which will power the clock for over a year at a time. Some of the quartz mantel clocks will have a swinging pendulum which will have nothing to do with the timekeeping, but add a nice touch you might see on an older keywind clock. Most of the quartz movements have chimes which are digital chimes played through a speaker inside the clock. Most of these chimes sound quite good.
There is a new quartz chime system called a “Harmonic Chime” which is excellent. It is an actual recording of a Tubular chime. The quartz movements also allow nice features such as alternate melodies, volume controls and nighttime shutoff for the chimes. Some mantel clocks will have a non-chiming, time only movement using a single AA battery. These clocks are usually at a lower cost and cases typically are not as nice as the chiming Quartz clocks. The cases on the chiming quartz mantel clocks are usually as nice as any keywound mantel clock.
Summary: Quartz mantel clocks are up to a 3rd the price of a keywound clock, keep better time and still have a good chime. The movements usually last about 15 – 20 years and most can be easily replaced for about 80.00.

Keywound Mantel Clocks

These mantel clocks are completely mechanical and need to be wound once a week. Keywound mantel clocks have 3 holes, called winding arbors in the dial where each has it’s own job. The center position on these mantel clocks winds the clock for the time. The other two are for the Westminster melody and the hour count. If you are not using the chimes, only the arbor above the 6:00 in the center needs to be wound. There is

Keywound Clock Movement

Keywound Clock Movement found in a Keywound Mantel Clock

also a lever where you may turn off the chimes on the mantel clock. These mantel clocks need to be oiled properly about every 5 years to reduce the friction so the clock may last many decades. We have seen some clocks made like this that are over 100 years old still in operation. The sound of the chime is created by a small brass hammer that physically strikes a chime rod inside the mantel clock.


Summary: Keywound mantel clocks are designed to last a lifetime if one is properly serviced over the years. The warm sound of the chimes is different from any other style of clock, but the chime volume is acoustic and cannot be altered. This type of mantel clock has also shown to keep it’s value very well over a long period of time.

Click one of the links below to view these clock selections:
Mantel ClocksQuartz Mantel ClocksKeywound Mantel Clocks

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